If you’re in Gauteng, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to picturesque travel destinations. However, on the province’s West Rand the Cradle of Humankind offers something that’s difficult to find elsewhere: a trip through time.
Maropeng, the official visitor centre for the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, features the world-famous discoveries that has earned the area its name.
The Cradle of Humankind is home to some of the richest fossil sites in the area. Perhaps the most famous at the moment is the Dinaledi chamber, where a new hominin species, Homo naledi, was discovered a few years ago. The announcement, made in 2015, drew more international attention to the site.
Scientists and researchers, affectionately dubbed “underground astronauts”, are still busy at the Dinaledi site, but you’ll be able to immerse yourself in their story at the visitor centre.
Here’s a rundown on what to expect.
Maropeng Visitor Centre
The visitor centre has a fascinating exhibition that stretches over some 2 500m2. In it, you’ll take a journey that begins with the creation of the Earth, and walks you through Earth’s changing surface over millions of years.
You’ll see what early hominin species must have looked like and how they lived, and understand the evolutionary process that resulted in the modern humans we are today.
Of particular interest will be the historic Almost Human exhibition, which tells the Homo naledi story.
Maropeng is open seven days a week. Click here for opening times and ticket prices.
Located just 10km away from the Maropeng Visitor Centre, the Sterkfontein Caves offer you a chance to explore an ancient cave system that has yielded historic fossil finds.
There is small exhibition at the entrance to the caves to set the scene and then you’ll don a hard hat and get going on an underground adventure. Remember to wear comfortable shoes.
Click here for admission and ticket information for Sterkfontein Caves.
Pro tip: A combination ticket for both the Maropeng Visitor Centre and the Sterkfontein Caves is good value for money. You can book your tickets online here.