Northern Tanzania, within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area


90 m deep and 50 Kms long


A visit to the museum

About Olduvai Gorge:

Olduvai Gorge is situated within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area, between the Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park. The gorge often referred to as 'birthplace of man' is named after the Maasai word for the wild sisal plant, commonly called Oldupai. Olduvai is about 90 m deep and 50 Kms long and contains sediments interspersed with layers of volcanic ash and lava that date back over two million years.

It is one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world and has been essential in furthering understanding of early human development. Excavation work there was pioneered by Louis Leakey in the 1950s and is continued today by his family. Millions of years ago, the site was that of a large lake, the shores of which were covered with successive deposits of volcanic ash. Around 500,000 years ago seismic activity diverted a nearby stream which began to cut down into the sediments, revealing seven main layers in the walls of the gorge.

The most famous of Olduvai's fossils was discovered by Mary Leakey in 1959 - it is 1.8 million years old, and belongs to an ape-like hominid known as Australopithecus boisei. Archaeologists believe there were about three hominid species in the region about 2 million years ago, two of which appear to have died out while the third species, the Homoerectus continued to evolve into modern man, Homosapiens.

A visit to the museum at Olduvai Gorge which displays a variety of fossils including a cast of the 3.7 million years old hominid footprints can be very interesting. The guides at the museum give on-site interpretation of the gorge. It is also very useful for information and education, with many specimens, and exhibits