Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Visiting the Oldupai Gorge in Tanzania


Last night, I found two entrance tickets to the Oldupai Gorge in Tanzania from my trip last October, with our names and the entrance fees still carefully printed on them.

I remembered what a nice and interesting excursion this was, and how we'd been very lucky at the Oldupai Gorge.

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The Oldupai Gorge is one of Africa's foremost excavation sites -- if not the world's.

Located in Tanzania, it's garnered fame because a group of archeologists discovered some of the oldest fossils of mankind here.

It's about an hour's drive on bumpy roads from the ridge of the Ngorongoro Crater and the lovely Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, where we were staying.

THREE SAFARIS.
AND THEN SOME.

At Safari # 1:
The Retreat in Selous, Tanzania 

The Travel Companion and I were doing three safaris plus the island of Zanzibar and the city of Dar es Salaam in just under two weeks in Tanzania.

Ngorongoro was Safari # 2 for us.



As with our previous trip to South Africa, we'd decided to go to Tanzania because we'd both never been.

And then I chose the itinerary and the places to stay, while he decided on the daily schedule and most of the logistics.

A BREAK FROM THE ANIMALS



So on our third day at the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, we decided to take a break from chasing animals all over.

Instead he'd arranged for our guide to bring us to the Oldupai Gorge.

This was of special interest to us because we'd also visited the Cradle of Mankind in South Africa the previous year.

This is another famous excavation site, about two hours out of Johannesburg. It has an excellent museum and we even took a boat ride inside, giving it a theme park atmosphere.

That's the original vehicle used by Mary Leakey

In contrast, the Oldupai Gorge is basically all dust and soil in a valley.

But it has a small and interesting museum that we spent some time in, looking at maps and reading the information boards.

And after seeing this, I said to the Travel Companion: "I want to see Mary Leakey's house."

THE HOUSE WHERE MARY LEAKEY LIVED

That's the manager of the Oldubai Gorge
Mary Leakey lived here, and she was the archeologist who made many of the stunning discoveries in the Oldupai Gorge.

Our guide did some asking around for us, and pretty soon, he came out again with the manager of the Oldupai Gorge and a set of keys.



The manager was pretty happy to show some visitors around Mary Leakey's old home, as few people really ask about this.

I don't think they know that it's actually possible to visit Mary Leakey's home. It really isn't, but you may get lucky if you ask nicely.

What a wonderful surprise.

HISTORY BEFORE OUR EYES


Mary Leakey's home and laboratory are still intact, almost exactly as she left these places decades ago.

Even her findings are still in her private store room, untouched.

I guess that's because the Oldupai Gorge is pretty much in the middle of nowhere.



There were no crowds here.

Just the Travel Companion and myself, and the Oldupai Gorge manager, his assistant and our guide.

We got the full-on personal tour.

We even got to hold many fossils that were millions of years old. And what an experience this was.




A NICE LUNCH IS WAITING...

And when we got back to the Ngorongoro Crater Lodge -- what do you know?

An excellent lunch of salad, hummus, guacamole and roast chicken was waiting.



And both of us just love hummus and guacamole, so we certainly ate with gusto after an exhilarating trip.

That was certainly one special day in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.



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