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The United Republic of Tanzania


The United Republic of Tanzania



Laetoli is one of Africa's most important palaeontological sites. It is located on the southern edge of the Serengeti Plains within the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and far north of Lake Eyasi. The site contains a long series of Plio-Pleistocene, predominantly volcano-sedimentary deposits rich in archaeological and paleontological remains, which are overlain by Precambrian metamorphic rocks.

The paleoanthropological relevance of the entire area has been recognized since the mid-1930s, although Laetoli became known in the 1970s as a result of exciting discoveries such as the Holotype and other remains. It has exceptional evidence of the earliest bipedal hominid traces, which date back 3.6 million years. About 3.6 million years ago in Laetoli, two early ancestors of humans walked through wet volcanic ash. When the nearby volcano erupted again, subsequent ash layers covered and preserved the oldest footprints of early humans.

Today, the Laetoli footprints are the oldest known footprints of early ancestors of humans in the world. The Laetoli Footprints, according to archaeologists, exhibit three distinct tracks of an upright walking hominid known as Australopithecus afarensis. The entire footprint trail is almost 27 meters long and comprises approximately 70 early human footprint impressions. The Olduvai Museum has replicas of these footprints.

Kohl Larsen, a German entomologist, first studied the Laetoli area in the 1920s, yielding a few fossils. The hominid footprints were discovered in 1974 by a team led by Mary Leakey, and excavations were conducted in 1978 and 1979.  The site is open to researchers interested in human origins and cultural development. Every year, researchers from local and foreign universities visit the site to work on various geological bed exposures that make up more than fifty sites.


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Ngorongoro is managed by a different government authority namely Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA). To get their details including fees kindly visit their website

The Ngorongoro Crater is home to much more than wildlife safaris, with important cultural and archaeology here too.

Away from the wildlife, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area has other areas of significance. Oldupai Gorge is one of Africa’s most important archaeological excavations where some of the world’s most humanoid remains were discovered.

When travelling to foreign destinations it is always respectful to dress modestly and we suggest the emphasis is on comfortable clothing.

It is often warm on the plains and at lower altitudes but cold in the hilly and mountainous areas; a rain jacket, fleece and good quality walking shoes/boots are essential.

The Ngorongoro Crater is rich in wildlife, with many species calling this vast area home.

The Ngorongoro Crater is the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera with a diameter of 16km and a crater wall over 600m high. It is a true Garden of Eden, an extraordinary natural sanctuary for some of Africa’s densest large mammal populations and predators. Over 400 spotted hyenas exist in the crater (especially on the eastern shore of Lake Magadi), along with lion’s, leopard (spotted on occasions in the swampy areas), and black-backed and golden jackals.

The lion population has varied during the years partly due to migration into and out of the crater but mainly because of the vulnerability of the compact population. Cheetah, although common in the Conservation Area, are scarce in the Crater possibly due to the high rate of competition from other predators.

Elephant (especially around the Gorigor Swamp area) and buffalo are regularly seen. There also exist residential populations and large concentrations of wildebeest (over 10,000 in number), Burchell’s zebra (approximately 5,000), and buffalo, Thomson’s and grant’s gazelle in the open grasslands of the crater floor. The Ngorongoro Crater is perhaps the best place in Africa to see the endangered black rhinoceros.