Many agencies and tour operators show too little interest in the area of Olduvai. After a cursory visit to the "Museum", they just rush into the Lodges of Serengeti or Ngorongoro, often considered as a convenient stop-over with toilets.
Yet at least a day spent in this unique and off-track area would undoubtedly be amongst the most exciting and diverse of the Northern circuit.
Olduvai Gorge and shallower side gorges off the main one cut into the western edges of the Rift Valley on the Serengeti plains in the heart of the protected area of the Ngorongoro (NCA).
The area is of an exceptional archaeological interest:
There is evidence of much more verdant vegetation, even a lake and lake shore trees; climate changes over thousands of years have led to very marked sedimentation - layers of earth and rock, obvious even to the lay person. This phenomenon has continued over almost the last two million years and led to a relatively rapid burial of many comparatively intact flints and other tools as well as faunal remains.
The intense volcanic activity of the time has caused different levels of volcanic “ash” which could be accurately dated. These “beds” also consist of other earth materials.
Over time this long sequence of movement and erosion from streams and small rivers caused the runoff and then the widening and deepening of the various gorges, which in turn has cut through the layers, making them accessible to researchers. It is effectively a well-protected and monitored living laboratory of the prehistoric era and still the focus of much ongoing research.
Although Olduvai is often cited as the Cradle of mankind, it should be remembered that other prehistoric human groups were present in many parts of Africa. However, here, particularly, a combination of accidental local conditions and other favourable factors enabled the initial exciting discovery, careful conservation and long-established research of direct and indirect evidence of the existence of our forefathers at this magical, fascinating site.
A small well laid out Visitors Centre, known as the “Museum” tells the various major discoveries made on the spot.
It is possible to hike in the gorge. After seeking arrangements with the Curator's office, you will be accompanied to the site by legitimate staff.
There are many fossil remains including prehistoric animals who lived between 200,0000 and 700,000 years ago and, of course conservation rules are strictly observed and it is forbidden to touch the artefacts or to pick them up.
From the site of our Olduvai Camp, guests can easily walk to the “Museum” in about two hours.