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National Travel and Tourism Week - Olduvai Gorge

Tuesday, May 02, 2017 8:47 PM | James Morgan

Next up on our list of Tanzanian travel spots is the Olduvai Gorge, located in the northern part of Tanzania near the Serengeti. Due to its unique fossil records, it is one of the most important anthropological sites on earth, helping scientists to better understand the history of early humans, both from how they looked to where they traveled. The gorge itself is roughly 30 miles long, a product of both volcanism and plate tectonics as well as weathering and erosion. [1] This process has taken millions of years, and it was worth it, for the gorge has much to offer from both a scientific standpoint as well as being a tourist destination.  By visiting the Olduvai Gorge, not only will you be given a chance to set foot where our earliest ancestors once did, but you will be accompanied by a unique learning experience and an amazing array of wildlife.

Photo by Sherwood on Flickr

The Olduvai Gorge first came to prominence in 1911, when German Neurologist Wilhelm Kattwinkel first discovered the bones of a previously unknown and extinct horse. From there on out, it became a hotspot for research, with archaeological and geological teams visiting the locations ever since. It wasn’t until the mid-1900’s when the scientific discoveries really started to alter our perception of human history. Found within the gorge were ancient fossils and stone tools, some dating back to over 2.5 million years ago. [2] These discoveries nearly proved to the world that humans originated in Africa, settling a long debate. Although the average tourist is not allowed to hunt for fossils, the many sites surrounding the gorge provide an experience not found anywhere else in the world.

Museums around the gorge offer many educational exhibits, ranging from fossils and artifacts of early human ancestors to the skeletons of the animals who accompanied them. One of the best museum exhibits, found at the Olduvai Gorge Museum, is a cast of footprints made by early hominids, the most well-known being Lucy. These footprints were, amazingly, preserved in mud hardened by the sun roughly 3.6 million years ago. The museum also offers other notable finds, such as fossils, tools, and other finds related to early humans. For anyone interested in the history of early humans, the Olduvai Gorge is a must-visit destination.

The Olduvai Gorge is one of the most important locations in all of Africa simply due to its unique and vital presence of early human artifacts. However, that is not the only reason one should visit. The Gorge itself is not far from the Serengeti, meaning that the wildlife surrounding it is sure to be abundant and varied. So, whether you are looking to walk with our earliest ancestors or take a safari nearby, the Olduvai Gorge is definitely an African treasure worth visiting.

References: 

[1] http://www.olduvaiproject.org/what-is-olduvai-gorge/

[2] http://www.jenmansafaris.com/national-parks-and-attractions/olduvai-gorge/


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