South Africa is an endless land of discovery that often reveals and adds a new richness to our heritage every now and again. Learn more about the evolution of humankind by taking a trip back into time at the Cradle of Humankind.
By Tamara Toti
Packed with historical and ancient fossils, the Cradle of Humankind is just 90min away from Johannesburg’s city centre and extends as far as the North West Province. This historical wonder may be made up of rocky highveld, but it’s a treasure trove of discovery for those with a love for the ancient and old. The list of things to do and sights to see is endless.
Get to dine in its tranquil surroundings, see a collection of both wildlife and exotic birds, or take part in the man sports offered. Today South Africa has 10 World Heritage sites within its borders and the Cradle of Humankind is just one of these covering 47 000-hectares of land. This beautiful area is made up of the Sterkfontein Caves, Swartkraans, Komdraai and Environs and is famous for the many fossils that have been found here. The area is home to 17 000 residents, over 200 caves and about 13 fossil sites that provide evidence that human evolution began in Africa almost 3.5million years ago.
MAROPENG VISITOR’S CENTRE
Maropeng is a Setswana word meaning ‘returning to the place of origin’. Upon entering the centre you’ll be greeted by a thrilling and world class exhibition that takes visitors on a journey tracking the evolution of humans through innovative and interactive storytelling methods. This is a self-guided tour that can take an hour and a half to three and is great for families with kids.
For prices and tour times, visit www.maropeng.co.za
The Sterkfontein Caves is a world famous and a popular visitor’s destination. The caves are the richest in hominid fossils and fossilised fauna, wood and stone tools that tell of our ancestors and how they used to live. The caves are home to the earliest fossil discoveries of human ancestors, Mrs Ples and Little Foot. Nowadays the caves are owned by the University of Witwatersrand which they have sectioned and opened to the public for the viewing of the
excavation site. Tours are available seven days a week, starting above the ground and going deep into the caves, visit www.thecradleofhumankind.net
Just as the name suggests, Wonder Cave is a natural wonder surrounded by game farms with an abundance of both game and bird life. It’s situated in the internationally known valley Komdraai and is believed to be 2.2 million years old with the most beautiful dripstone formations and a bat population. This cave has an enormous single chamber that one enters from the side on an elevator that gives you the view of the beautiful rock formations inside. Tours are available seven days a week with experienced guides along well-lit pathways. To book your tour, visit www.thecradleofhumankind.net
LION & SAFARI PARK
Nestled in the Cradle of Humankind, the Lion & Safari Park offers visitors an unforgettable wildlife experience. Since moving to the Cradle of Humankind in 2016, the park has added some new activities and attractions to its offerings. When visiting the park guests can now look forward to self-drives, guided tours, cheetah encounters and hand feeding a selection of animals. You get the opportunity to get up close to some of Africa’s favourite animals and capture those memories at the photographic centre on site in a photobook, on mugs, keyrings and puzzles.
Visit www.lionandsafaripark.com to book your getaway.