Why is Tanzania popularly referred to as the ‘Cradle of Mankind’?
Tanzania earned its popular title ‘Cradle of Mankind’ due to the archaeological finds at Olduvai Gorge, a steep ravine located in the Great Rift Valley and extending to the Ngorongoro Crater’s north-west.
One of the world’s most eminent prehistoric sites, Olduvai Gorge was first excavated in the 1950s, by Mary and Louis Leakey. The site’s most extraordinary fossils include the skull of Australopithecus boisei, an ape-like creature who lived here around 1.8 million years ago and human-like (hominid) footprints believed to be approximately 3.7 million years old (discovered in 1972). These and other fossils found at the site suggest the region has been inhabited by a minimum of 300 different hominid species, including A. boisei and Homo habilis, as well as Homo erectus, which is believed to later have evolved into Homo sapiens, modern man.
Visiting Olduvai Gorge
We visited the gorge during one of our personalised Tanzania holidays, a journey from Nairobi to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti and Lake Manyara National Parks.
Day one, our arrival
After arriving at Jomo Kenyatta, Nairobi’s InternationalAirport, we settled in a hotel for bed and breakfast. After breakfast the following morning, we started off on our way to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
Day two and three, Ngorongoro Crater
Having arrived late in the afternoon at the conversation area, we enjoyded a sumptuous dinner and spent a night in a comfortable, well-appointed lodge. The next morning, we took off on a tour of the Ngorongoro Crater, where we were fortunate enough to spot elands, gazelles and rhinos; wildebeest, zebras and varying predators, including hyenas and jackals; cheetahs, leopards and lions.
Days four and five, Olduvai Gorge and Serengeti
Having spent another night at the Ngorongoro lodge, we took off to visit the famous Olduvai Gorge and its interesting fossil museum. We then carried on to the Serengeti National Park, where we spent the rest of the day and most of day five on game drives, providing us with the opportunity to see lions and impalas; elephants, hippos and buffalo; cheetahs, wildebeest and waterbuck, as well as an array of bird species.
Day six, Lake Manyara National Park
Our last full day was spent at Lake Manyara, one of East Africa’s oldest national parks. Among the park’s many habitats (the lake, ground-water forests, acacia woodlands, open grasslands and, of course, the rift wall) we saw the incredible tree-climbing lions the region is famous for; baboons, buffalo and elephants; impala, leopards and giraffes; zebras, wildebeest, hippos and more.