Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania boasts a blend of landscapes, wildlife, people and archaeology that is unsurpassed in Africa. Ngorongoro Crater is one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles, its magical setting and abundant wildlife never fail to enthrall visitors.
Called the 8th wonder of the world and stretching across some 8,300 sq km, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area in northern Tanzania boasts a blend of landscapes, wildlife, people and archaeology that is unsurpassed in Africa. The volcanoes, grasslands, waterfalls and mountain forests are home to an abundance of animals and to the Maasai. Ngorongoro Crater is one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles, its magical setting and abundant wildlife never fail to enthrall visitors. It borders the Serengeti National Park to the north and west.
Visitors now see Olduvai Gorge (also known as Oldupai, the Maasai spelling of the name) as a dry, shallow canyon draining wet season run-off from Lakes Ndutu and Masek to the Olbalbal depression. However, several million years ago the entire area was a vast alkaline lake. The wildly fluctuating waters of this ancient lake formed the definitive sediment layers that have yielded a valuable pale anthropological and archaeological record. In the seventy years since Louis and Mary Leakey first began searching the area for clues to our distant past, more than sixty hominid remains have been found, belonging to four different hominids, showing the gradual increase in brain size and in the complexity of their stone tools. One of the most famous of these discoveries was made by Mary Leakey and is the well known ‘Zinjanthropus’. At Laetoli, hominid footprints are preserved in volcanic rock some 3.6 million years old and represent some of the earliest signs of the small brained, upright-walking Australopithecus afarensis, ever to be found. Imprints are among the fascinating exhibits in the museum at Oldupai. Excavations are on-going and continue to produce splendid specimens of extinct hominids, animals and plants. The museum at Oldupai Gorge provides excellent exhibits, lectures and its location offers great views over the gorge. Walking tours of the area, which is also a birders’ paradise, can be arranged.