A mere hour's drive from Johannesburg, the Cradle of Humankind is a place of major significance. It was here we first became human. Here where we first stood upright on our own two, rather oddly shaped, feet, explored the uses to which we could put our usefully opposed thumbs, and experimented with more and more sophisticated grunts as we tried to make sense of our environment. Its also the place where 1.8 million years ago we first "domesticated" fire.
You can do a tour of the Sterkfontein Caves, where there is a small interpretive museum, but you'll get more out of a visit here if you take a dedicated tour with a knowledgeable guide who can tell you about the various discoveries.

OK – to be perfectly honest, it's unlikely that these hominids lived only in the Sterkfontein area – they probably ranged all over southern Africa but, in order for fossils to be preserved, they need to die under ideal conditions – ideal conditions for fossil formation, not ideal conditions for life, obviously.

And the Cradle of Humankind, with its heavy deposits of limestone, offered the perfect environment for the preservation of these ancient skeletons. Since 1947, when Robert Broom discovered the first hominid fossil, who came to be known as Mrs Ples, literally thousands of fossils have been found at Sterkfontein and the other sites that make up the Cradle of Humankind.

But, even if you're not particularly interested in visiting the place where our ancestors hung out, the Cradle of Humankind is a great place to visit and it is close to Pretoria and Johannesburg. There are enough small game farms, caves, restaurants, craft shops and guesthouses to keep you occupied for a couple of days. You could even go for a hot air balloon ride. The Cradle is also close to the town of Magaliesburg and the Magaliesberg Mountains.

World Heritage Sites – Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai, and Environs

The Cradle of Humankind was proclaimed one of South Africa's first World Heritage Sites in 1999.

Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai, and Environs Krugersdorp, Gauteng S25º55'45 E27º 47'20

Makapan Valley Mokopane (Potgietersrus), Limpopo, South Africa S24º9'31 E29º10'37

Taung Skull Fossil Site Taung, North West, South Africa S27º37'10 E24º37'59

The Taung Skull Fossil Site, part of the extension, is the place where in 1924 the celebrated Taung Skull - a specimen of the species Australopithecus africanus - was found. Makapan Valley, also in the site, features in its many archaeological caves traces of human occupation and evolution dating back some 3.3 million years. The area contains essential elements that define the origin and evolution of humankind. Fossils found there have enabled the identification of several specimens of early hominids, more particularly specimens of Paranthropus, dating back between 4.5 million and 2.5 million years as well as evidence of the domestication of fire 1.8 million to 1 million years ago. It is an extension to the site inscribed in 1999.

UNESCO World Heritage Site Selection Criteria

  • (iii). To bear a unique or at least exceptional testimony to a cultural tradition or to a civilization which is living or which has disappeared.
  • (vi). To be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance. (The Committee considers that this criterion should preferably be used in conjunction with other criteria).

Source: UNESCO

Cradle of Humankind Fun Rating

from 137 customer reviews
4 out of 5 stars!

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Magaliesburg Magaliesburg
Town of Magalies Meander

Magaliesburg
Magaliesburg is beautiful and a short drive from Joburg. There is also The Cradle of Humankind and Maropeng nearby.
Megan Brook
South Africa

Muldersdrift Muldersdrift
Town of West Rand

Glorious Muldersdrift
Amidst the glorious rolling hills of the Cradle of Humankind, this lovely area of Muldersdrift is still pristine and welcoming. So much to do, so much to see - a bit of everything for everybody. And rounded off with an evening braai against the backdrop of a vivid African sunset. We love it!
Wendy Mann
South Africa

Magaliesburg Magaliesburg
Town of Magalies Meander

Cradle of Humankind - Rhino and Lion Reserve
During our stay in Magaliesberg, we visited the Lion and Rhino Reserve in the Cradle of Humankind precinct. The Reserve is a nice start to seeing wildlife in South Africa. The setup is like a real game reserve, but due to its limited size, you'll see a lot of game. In the wildlife crèche, one can literally get in touch with predators, which was an unforgettable experience for the kids. Obviously, it is no true wilderness.
Jeroen van Onna
Netherlands


Cradle
The Cradle of Humankind was the best place to be. We were able to explore all the tourist attractions we could possibly think of:The Sterkfontein Caves offered much fun and adventure and lots of memorable photos.Maropeng was SO MUCH FUN especially the Vortex tunnel WOW.The Lion and Rhino Park was so amazing. People were friendly and the animals were lovely. The lion cubs were so cute and soft and fun to play with!The Wonder Caves with its amazing sculptures was also a great addition and grand finale.Definitely comes highly recommended. All these have excellent tour guides who are more than...
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Beaulah Addinall
South Africa


One of a kind
If you want attention to detail and made to feel like you're the only guest, Cradle of Humankind is the place to go. Service was exceptional and food was great. Will definately recomend.
Camilla Coertse
South Africa

Hekpoort Hekpoort
Town of Gauteng

Lonely but interesting
Its a nice and quiet place to tell the truth.
Aubrey Molele
South Africa

Hekpoort Hekpoort
Town of Gauteng

Hekpoort
Small but beautiful
DENNIS HOUGH
South Africa

Hekpoort Hekpoort
Town of Gauteng

A lil gem
We were in Hekpoort for a wedding and we had stopped somewhere for lunch. Called Goblins Cove! What a little experience that was. We enjoyed a snack and the setting, very mysterious.
Samantha Gillman
South Africa

Broederstroom Broederstroom
Town of Magalies Meander

Open and tranquil
Great views and everything you need is conveniently near by.
Monique Reprezas
South Africa

Magaliesburg Magaliesburg
Town of Magalies Meander

Magaliesburg
Magaliesburg is one of the unspoiled places that we still have left, it's not too far from Gauteng and there is so much to see and do. We love it..
Megan Bridge
South Africa

Krugersdorp Krugersdorp
Town of West Rand

My car buying experience led me to holiday in Krugersdorp
I wasn't planning on coming to Krugersdorp until I chased my dream car I found on a usedcarsforsale.co.za site (an old Ford) and the dealer was based there. I ended up coming over the town and spent a couple of days there. I will be driving up again this Winter to enjoy it.
Cookie Stones

Magaliesburg Magaliesburg
Town of Magalies Meander

Magaliesburd is place to be
It is a good place that when you just want to have a peace of mind and relax. I love it, its nice quite place.
esther mangena
South Africa

Muldersdrift Muldersdrift
Town of West Rand

Muldersdrift
Peace and quiet along side the rolling hills, pure bliss!
will hartzenberg
South Africa

Broederstroom Broederstroom
Town of Magalies Meander

Beautiful place
So much to do and see. Close to all amenities.
natalie maharaj
South Africa

Magaliesburg Magaliesburg
Town of Magalies Meander

Enjoyable
Had a great time there!
Zayd Ballim
South Africa

Magaliesburg Magaliesburg
Town of Magalies Meander

Ambrosia Pizza Restaurant
Wonderful atmosphere, great service, excellent food. Friendly owners. Wonderful time.
Marge Delport
South Africa

Broederstroom Broederstroom
Town of Magalies Meander

Many things to do
A rich environment filled with so much life.
Natasha Da Costa
South Africa

Hekpoort Hekpoort
Town of Gauteng

Hekpoort
Awesome,so many things to do. A weekend is to short.
Paul Bester
South Africa

Game Reserve of West Rand

Slegte Ervaring
Plek het baie agteruit gegaan ... voelhok is verval en by kamp area is dit ook dood ... swembad is leeg en toe met staal omheining ..... kiosk is toe.... hul adverteer cub feeling maar daars niks hokke is toe en niks en niemand insig .... beslis glad nie die R98 per volwassene werd nie... was laas Sondag daar sal nie weer gaan of aanbeveel nie.
Salome Jansen Van Vuuren
South Africa

Broederstroom Broederstroom
Town of Magalies Meander

It's a nice place
We didn't do much. We were mostly at the cottages, but from what I could see passingly, it's a great place to visit with friends and family.
Morongwa Malemela
South Africa