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  UNESCO World Heritage Sites
 
 
 
Johannesburg > Johannesburg Places to Visit & See > Cradle of Humankind Site

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Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site
North-west of Johannesburg

 
 
 
A visit here is sure to take you back in time. The Cradle of Humankind Site is located 45 minutes drive on the north-west of Johannesburg and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that consists of a series of dolomite limestone caves which contain the fossils of animals, plants and hominid ancestors.

The sites is worthy of the ancient history, human beginnings, discovery and modern adventure. It is a great attraction in Johannesburg for the kids and families to explore, discover and experience a whole lot of life, that where life began.

The site has two parts that include the Interpretation Centre Complex of Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves that they are the key visitor attractions to explore and experience the area. The site has nice restaurants in the company of spectacular views.

There are numerous hotels, lodges, guest houses and bed and breakfast accommodation in and around the Cradle of Humankind WHS for the travellers. The accommodation opportunities extends from the north-west of Johannesburg through the picturesque Magaliesberg mountains.

Maropeng

Maropeng is the gateway to the World Heritage Site. The word "Maropeng" means "returning to the place of origin” in Setswana. The site is located in the gateway of the Cradle of Humankind WHS. Visitors enjoy the Maropeng tour with an underground boat ride through the elemental forces and continue through an interactive and educational experience. Maropeng is located 45 minutes drive from Johannesburg city center and Pretoria.
 
 

Sterkfontein Caves

The Sterkfontein Caves are one of the 13 fossil sites in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. The site is located in the heart of the Cradle of Humankind WHS and it is about an hour drive from the Johannesburg city center and about 10 minutes from Maropeng. Attractions include, scientific exhibition showcases a reconstruction of a mined versus a pristine cave, cave formations, early-life forms, mammals and homofossils as well as details of fossilisation, palaeobotany and landscapes.

Scientific evidence suggests that these dolomite caves started out as coral reefs growing under the sea about 2.3 billion years ago. As the reefs died out they were converted into limestone and finally into dolomite. Caves were carved out in the dolomite when acidic water percolated and stalactites and stalagmites were formed. It is believed that animals and hominids which were trapped in the caves died and were eventually fossilized. Together these caves have yielded 850 hominid remains.

In 1947 an almost complete skull of an adult female Australopithecus africanus was found in the Sterkfontein Caves and nicknamed 'Mrs.Ples'. ‘Little Foot', the oldest hominid skeleton discovered to date, was also found in the same caves. Indeed, this site is a treat for archaeologists and for those interested in prehistory.

Visitor Information
The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site
Address:
North-west of Joburg, from Hendrik Potgieter or Beyers Naude Drive
Phone:
+27 (0)11 355 1200; Email: cradleofhumankind@gauteng.gov.za
Web:
www.cradleofhumankind.co.za

Maropeng & Sterkfontein Caves
Phone: +27 (0)14 577 9000; Web: www.maropeng.co.za

 
 


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