Cradle of Humankind

The remarkable Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site is less than an hour’s drive from Johannesburg, near the Witwatersberg and Magaliesberg mountain ranges. See the Sterkfontein Caves, where scientists have discovered many hominid and animal fossils dating back over 4 million years, Maropeng (meaning “returning to the place of origin” in Setswana) and its exhibition centre, housed in a Tumulus that allows visitors to sail through the various stages of Earth’s formation on an underground boat, and the close-by Magaliesberg, one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges. Besides the pure pleasure of finding an abundance of flora, fauna, birdlife and the magnificent sable antelope, have fun micro-lighting, abseiling, rock climbing, river rafting and hiking. And, if you are feeling lucky, visit Gauteng’s oldest gold mine. A variety of accommodation is on offer, from camping to super smart.

Back in 1947, Dr. Robert Broom from the University of Witwatersrand discovered the nearly complete skull of a supposedly adult female nicknamed Mrs. Ples, followed by the discovery of thousands of other fossils at Sterkfontein and the surrounding area. More recently, in 1997, an almost complete hominine skeleton was discovered in these sites. It is supposed to be about 3.5 million years old and it was named ‘Little Foot’. The skeleton is partly covered in breccia (a cemented rock) and it is just partially exposed to visitors. So, if you enjoy seeing old things, these are as old as you are ever going to get!

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