Laetoli is a Geosite and a historical site found in Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority in Arusha region in Northern Tanzania. It is located in 45 km south of Oldupai Gorge and 25 Km North of Lake Eyasi, and South East of the Serengeti National Park
The name Laetoli originates from a Maasai word “Olekitolya” or Laitolya which means the red lily, a plant grows in this area at the end of a dry season when it is blooms
As a result of discoveries about the old man, the stone tools they used, availability of animal remains and foot prints of both animals and birds at Laetoli and Oldupai Gorge, the sites brands the Norongoro Conservation Area (NCA) as the only mixed World Heritage property in Tanzania and most likely the first Geopark in Africa
Until now, Laetoli area of around 80 squre kms represents 32 localities covered with fossil bones of extinct and extant species, footprints of homids, animals, birds, stones and artifacts at some places
Laetoli is an area of woodland and grassland vegetation on low hills and ridges marked by extinct volcanoes lemagrut (lemakarot), sadiman (osattima) and Oldeani (Oltiani). Most part of this area is covered by black clay soil alternatively known as black cotton soil
Four (4) facts making Laetoli famous
Laetoli is known for the evidence of early human being footprints as well as animals and birds. It is hear where evidence shown that the early human being was walking with two limbs. The first cultural and scientific evidences were recorded in 1935. Louis and Mary Leakey, scientists originally from British who moved to East Africa in early 1931 are known for their excavations at Oldupai Gorge and Laetoli where they recovered fossilized bones imbedded in the sedimentary exposures along the Gerusi River Basin
On the other hand, expedition of 1938-39 led by Ludwing Kohl – Larsern of Turbingen University, Germany recovered some fossils in the area including a fragment of a hominid upper jaw. Systematic investigations of the area begun between 1974 and 1975 and continued from there
In 1978, two parallel trails of hominid (small and dual adult individuals) covering 26 meters and accounting to about 70 footmarks were discovered in Laetoli. In addition, in 2014 another set of foot prints from the same species was discovered nearly 100 meters south of the 1978 discovery location
These footmarks document the oldest reputable evidence for bipedal or upright mode of location in human history. Until now, Laetoli is the only Pliocene site Pliocene site bearing hominid foot prints out of more than 63 known sites with similar finds on earth
Residence and economic activities
The majority residence of Laetoli is Maasai. Whose main economic activity is gracing. You will encounter Maasai castles along the road going or coming from Laetoli. However, the benefit from researches done in this area since their hired as researchers assistants and receives payments as an extra income
[Show maasai catle gracing along side Laetoli road]
Nine (9) things that a tourist can see in Laetoli
Any visitor to Laetoli has a chance to see or tour:
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Three (3) activities that a tourist can do in Laetoli
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Any interested tourist can reach Laetoli by a road transport through any road network connected to the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority. Most road networks within the NCAA leading to tourism attractions are accessible throughout the year. The NCA is also connected by a tarmark road from Arusha making it easy for tourists to organize their travel. Tourists can also fly to Manyara air strip and travel by vehicle from there. It is recommended to organize your visit with registered tour operators available in TBT website.
[Show tour vehicles]
All people are encouraged to visit this Geosite and historical site of its kind which marks the original of mankind evolution on earth. Special emphasis is given to students specializing in history and geography studies as well as researchers from all over the World.
Laetoli near future plan
The government through the NCAA has decided to make Laetoli one of the leading tourism destinations in Tanzania. To achieve this, there is ongoing reconstruction of the site museum which when finished the buried footprints will be exposed to the public including tourists. In that building, there will be a research centre, educational and children centre, training centre and archives.
[Image of the current laetoli museum and the expected bulding]