Human Evolution Tour in Africa
Study Anthropology in South Africa and Tanzania
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Arrive in Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city, which began as a 19th-century gold-mining settlement. Its Soweto township was once home to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Settle into your hotel, and take a city tour, stopping to see the thought-provoking Apartheid Museum. Meet your fellow student anthropology enthusiasts tonight at dinner.
Head about an hour northwest of Johannesburg to begin your anthropological explorations in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. This region has one of the world’s richest concentrations of hominid fossils. Your first stop, the Maropeng Visitors Centre, takes visitors back through time through its interactive exhibits that explain human evolution, and displays fossils and stone tools of exceptional archaeological value. The pathway to the entrance passes an archaeological excavation of a Stone Age site where geologists found early stone tools.
You’ll have lunch at the Tumulus restaurant within the Maropeng Visitor Centre. The deck has great views over the Cradle of Humankind landscape.
After lunch, a short 15-minute drive from Maropeng is the site of the Sterkfontein Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, well-known for its rich trove of hominid fossils of man’s earliest ancestors, including the famous Mrs. Ples and Little Foot.
Return to Johannesburg for dinner and maybe some music at the Orbit Jazz Club before retiring for the night at your hotel.
This morning, catch a flight from Johannesburg to Dar Es Salaam, the capital and largest city of Tanzania, situated along the coast of the Indian Ocean. You’ll arrive in the early afternoon, check in at your hotel and take a tour of some of the city’s highlights, including The National Museum. This renowned museum is a good introduction to Tanzanian culture, with exhibits that include Louis and Mary Leakey’s human fossil finds from Olduvai Gorge, the Mwenge Woodcarvers Market and The Village Museum, showcasing over a dozen different types of traditional Tanzanian huts.
Enjoy dinner at a traditional local restaurant and sleep soundly at your hotel after your day’s travels.
This morning you’ll return to the airport for your flight to Arusha, which will take just over an hour. From here, you’ll be driven 2.5 hours to one of Tanzania’s most spectacular natural sights, Ngorongoro Crater. The crater is a caldera, formed centuries ago when a massive volcano imploded and collapsed upon itself. The area is also one of the country’s best wildlife viewing spots, as the crater has a permanent supply of water which draws thousands of wild animals to the crater floor, including lions, elephants, rhinos, gazelles, buffaloes, wildebeests and zebras.
After settling into your lodge, you’ll take a late afternoon game drive to the crater floor to enjoy this wonderful array of big game animals and other animal and bird life. Dinner will be at the lodge, and you’ll spend the night in this beautifully scenic setting.
Get up early for a morning game drive as the animals begin to stir, then have breakfast. You’ll then drive north about 2 hours to one of the most famous anthropological sites on earth, Olduvai Gorge. It was here that Louis and Mary Leakey made their groundbreaking discoveries of hominid fossils that supported the premise that human evolution from the apes began here in Africa.
Here you’ll tour the Olduvai Gorge Museum, where you’ll see the famous Nutcracker Man, plus a replica of the nearby Laetoli Footprints of a man, woman and child together, which provide some of the earliest evidence of bipedalism, and be driven down into the gorge to see where the Leakeys’ work was conducted.
From here it’s a 45-minute drive to Serengeti National Park, Tanzania’s largest National Park and one of the greatest wildlife shows on earth. Serengeti National Park is a vast treeless plain with large numbers of animals searching for fresh grasslands. The annual migration of millions of zebra and wildebeest takes place in May or early June.
You’ll be well-situated at a park lodge, from which you’ll go on a late afternoon game drive to begin admiring the natural splendor of the Serengeti. Swap stories at dinner, and overnight at your lodge.
Get another early start so you can participate in a morning game drive, followed by breakfast. From here, you’ll take a small aircraft from one of Serengeti’s airstrips on a 2-hour flight back to Arusha. Then you’ll board one more flight to return to Dar Es Salaam.
The rest of the afternoon is at leisure after your travels, followed by dinner and a well-earned sleep at your hotel.
After breakfast at your hotel, transfer to the airport for your flight back home, full of lifetime memories of your visits to some of the most compelling anthropological sites and wildlife parks in Africa!
The history of human evolution from apes to man has its genesis in Africa. Here is your chance to study anthropology at some of the most exciting locations on the planet, particularly Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania and the Cradle of Mankind World Heritage Site in South Africa. Learn about the discoveries and the key people behind them, such as the Leakey family. Enjoy some fantastic wildlife viewing in Tanzania at Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater. Get a feel for modern African urban life during your time in Johannesburg and Dar Es Salaam.
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