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Olduvai Gorge & Laetoli

Olduvai Gorge & Laetoli

Olduvai Gorge & Laetoli 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.

 

Olduvai Gorge & Laetoli

Olduvai Gorge is a site in Tanzania that holds the earliest evidence of the existence of human ancestors. Paleoanthropologists have found hundreds of fossilized bones and stone tools in the area dating back millions of years, leading them to conclude that humans evolved in Africa.

Olduvai is a misspelling of Oldupai, a Maasai word for a wild sisal plant that grows in the area. The gorge is located in the Great Rift Valley, between the Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti National Park. It is 30 miles from Laetoli, another fossil-rich area. Olduvai Gorge was formed about 30,000 years ago, the result of aggressive geological activity and streams.

The steep ravine is about 30 miles (48.2 km) long and 295 feet (89.9 meters) deep, not quite large enough to be classified as a canyon. A river cuts through several layers to form four individual beds, with the oldest estimated at about 2 million years old.

At Laetoli, west of Ngorongoro Crater, hominid footprints are preserved in volcanic rock 3.6 millions 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 increases 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 millions years ago, was found here. The most important find include Home habilis, Zinjathropus and the Laetoli footprints.

Burunge WMA

Burunge WMA

Burunge WMA

BURUNGE WMA is located in Babati District, Manyara Region along Arusha-Babati-Singida-Dodoma highway, about 120 kilometres from tourist city of Arusha. Home to elephants and Giant Baobab trees

BURUNGE WMA is located in Babati District, Manyara Region along Arusha-Babati-Singida-Dodoma highway, about 120 kilometres from tourist city of Arusha.

The WMA is made up of nine villages from three administrative wards whose revenue from tourism and conservation is sent back to support the local communities to execute social and economic development activities.

Villages which had allocated their land for establishment of the WMA are Sangawe, Mwada, Vilima Vitatu, Ngoley, Kakoi, Olasiti, Manyara, Maweni and Magara.

Burunge WMA is accessible by road transport from Arusha to Makuyuni, a distance of 85 kilometres, then from Makuyuni to the WMA is located about 35 kilometres, between Makuyuni junction and Babati town.
The WMA borders Tarangire and Lake Manyara National parks, which together share the rich wildlife resources living in those two famous national parks in Northern Tanzania. It is 18 kilometres from the Tarangire National park Gate and 10 kilometres from the southern boundary of Lake Manyara National Park.

The most tourist attractions found in Burunge WMA are mostly the wildlife from Tarangire and Lake Manyara National Parks, mostly elephants and other mammals seen in northern Tanzanian parks including the Big Five.

Burunge is as well, famous for its big population of pythons which are rarely found in most wildlife parks in East Africa. Animals migrating as far from Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area have been spotted in the WMA and added its conservation prominence.

Other than wildlife, the WMA is famous for flamingo and hippo watching in Lake Burunge, sunset over the Tarangire National Park, baobab trees dated over thousand years and seasonal migration of Zebras, Giraffes, Waterbucks, Buffaloes ,Lions, Leopards and other attractive animals from Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Lake Manyara and Tarangire wildlife parks.

Burunge WMA is as well, famous for harbouring elephants with bigger and longer tusks not found in any part of Africa. Visitors to this WMA can enjoy watching more than 200 bird species found inside the community conserved forest which makes the WMA unique.

Burunge WMA has been divided into six blocks and which each investor pay US$ 60,000 as block fee per year, and which 75 percent of the total amount is sent back to local communities through the WMA management. All investors are carrying out photographic safari, since no hunting safari in this WMA.

Tourist activities in the WMA are mostly photographic safaris organised by tour operators. Bicycle riding and walking safaris inside the WMA are the other organized tourist activities taking place there during early morning hours and late afternoons.

Tourist accommodation and recreational services are offered in lodges and camps established inside Burunge WMA. These are Tarangire River Camp,  Tarangire Osupuko Lodge, Maramboi, Chemchem Lodge, Lake Burunge Tented Lodge, UN Lodge and Little Chemchem Lodge.

Little Chemchem Lodge is located closer to Lake Burunge at a place full of wild animals. Some animals seen around there are Giraffes, Zebras, Gazelles, Dik Diks, Warthogs, Elephants, Buffaloes and Lions.

Cultural performances can be organized through traditional dances from the Maasai and Wambugwe groups made up of women and men. Two Cultural Dancing groups have been established in Burunge WMA to entertain visitors booked in lodges and camps within the WMA.

These Groups are “Pevingo Dancing Group” which is made up of men and women, and “Mshikamano Women Group”. Pevingo Dancing Group is made up of 20 traditional dancers from Wambugwe community, among them15 dancers are men and the rest five are women.

Most songs composed do carry wildlife conservation messages to attract local communities involvement in wildlife conservation, while campaigning for anti-poaching and environmental protection, also strengthening good neighbourliness with Tarangire National Park.

Mshikamano Women Group was launched in 2004 as an initiative of 30 women members, all engaged on various cultural activities. The group do organize traditional dances to visitors (tourists) booked in lodges within the WMA.

It is an economic generating group as well, specialized in weaving of various, attractive ornaments and utensils using the grass. Among the products are trays, dustbins, table mats, small containers, foods covers and also various home utensils.

Mgungani Women Group is the other local community initiative to raise incomes of women through gains in tourism and wildlife conservation. The group was formed in 1997 by 50 Maasai women entrepreneurs through 10 Village Cooperative Banks (VICOBA).

Located near the entry gate to Tarangire National Park, the group sell ornaments and decorations to tourists calling in the park. Other women groups in Burunge WMA are Einoti Maasai Women Group and Tarangire Emanyata, all specialised on cultural activities.