Cradle of Humankind Travel Guide

Description

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

In and Around

Nearby Locations
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Accommodation near Cradle of Humankind

*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling distance.

from R720
1 night, 2 adults

The Rabbit Hole Hotel

Sleeps 31 Krugersdorp Hotel in Krugersdorp

The Rabbit Hole Guest House & Restaurant has 17 unique and artistically styled en-suite rooms. MCCI ...

from R620
1 night, 2 adults

Puschka Farm

Sleeps 18 Magaliesburg Self-catering in Magaliesburg

Puschka is an organic farm situated in the beautiful Naauwpoort Valley, in the foothills of the maje...

from R580
1 night, 2 adults

Pine Valley

Sleeps 34 Muldersdrift Self-catering in Muldersdrift

Pine Valley consists of five fully serviced and equipped self catering chalets and four B and B type...

from R600
1 night, 2 adults

The Loft Guest House

Sleeps 11 Krugersdorp Guest House in Krugersdorp

The Loft Guest House is perfectly located on a main route of Krugersdorp and on the doorstep of Rood...

Wow Country House, Exclusive House of Friends
Special
Deal
from R900
1 night, 2 adults

Wow Country House, Exclusive House of Friends

Sleeps 20 Magaliesburg Country House in Magaliesburg

The venue is perfect for that special get together, a birthday celebration when you don’t want to ma...

from R1350
1 night, 2 adults

Stone Hill

Sleeps 34 Magaliesburg Self-catering in Magaliesburg

Are you looking for a romantic and pet friendly getaway in the country. Perched high above the dista...

from R800
1 night, 2 adults

The Farm

Sleeps 2 Magaliesburg Self-catering in Magaliesburg

Secure, private, self-catering accommodation in the Hartbeestfontein Conservancy, near Magaliesburg ...

from R810
1 night, 2 adults

Ekudeni Country Venue

Sleeps 46 Muldersdrift Bed and Breakfast in Muldersdrift

Ekudeni is ideally situated on the “wedding mile” in Lanseria, only 30 minutes from either Pretoria ...

from R960
1 night, 2 adults

Clear View Lodge

Sleeps 46 Broederstroom Lodge in Broederstroom

Clear View Lodge, a retreat and conference facility in Broederstroom, is a mere 40 minutes’ drive fr...

Mountain Sanctuary Park - Magaliesberg

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