Over the last thirty years or so, it has become increasingly apparent that Africa is probably the "Cradle of Mankind". From Africa they spread out to populate the rest of Earth. Remains of the earliest humans were found in Oldupai Gorge. Oldupai Gorge (originally misnamed Olduvai) is the most famous archaeological location in East Africa, and has become an essential visit for travelers to Ngorongoro or Serengeti.
At Laetoli, west of Ngorongoro Crater, hominid footprints are preserved in volcanic rock 3.6 million years old and represent some of the earliest signs of mankind in the world. Three separate tracks of a small-brained upright walking early hominid. Australopithecus afarensis, a creature about 1.2 to 1.4 meters high, were found. Imprints of these are displayed in the Oldupai museum.
More advanced descendants of Laetoli's hominids were found further north, buried in the layers of the 100 meters deep Oldupai Gorge. Excavations, mainly by the archaeologist Louis and Mary Leakey, yielded four different kinds of hominid, showing a gradual increase in brain size and in the complexity of their stone tools. The first skull of Zinjanthropus, commonly known as 'Nutcracker Man' who lived about 1.75 million years ago, was found here. The most important find includes Home habilis, Zinjathropus and the Laetoli footprints.
The excavation sites have been preserved for public viewing and work continues during the dry seasons, coordinated by the Department of Antiquities. One may visit Oldupai at all times of the year. It is necessary to have official guide to visit the excavations. At the top of the Gorge there is small museum, a sheltered area used for lectures and talks, toilets and a cultural boma. Local Maasai souvenirs are also available.
Thus, Oldupai and Laetoli makes the Ngorongoro Conservation Area an important place in the world for the study of human origins and human evolution. It is where people and their early ancestor have co-existed with wildlife for nearly four million years.
See and touch a huge cast of actual footprints made by our early human ancestors (hominins) known as "Lucy" Australopithecus afarensis. The prints of three hominins were miraculously preserved in muddy ash deposited by volcanic eruptions and hardened by the sun some 3.6 million years ago. For those who are visiting Serengeti, it is most logical to visit it on your way in or out of the Serengeti National Park. The price is US$20 per person paid before or at the gate during safari.