Cradle of Humankind Tour

Maropeng – Sterkfontein Cave – Cradle of Humankind.

Paleontologists sites – world’s hominid fossils. World Heritage site of the Cradle of Humankind. Tours of Maropeng – Sterkfontein Cave – Mrs. Ples.

Daily Private Transfers and Tours, 7 days a week.

Sterkfontein Geological Wonders on outskirts of Johannesburg.

Cradle of Humankind – World Heritage Site

The Cradle of Humankind (Maropeng and Sterkfontein Caves)

Declared a World Heritage Site in December 1999. The area of Cradle of Humankind is approximately 48 000 hectares, housing the caves of Sterkfontein, Driemolen, Swartkrans and Wonder Caves.

Ekala Eco Tours offer tours that would included both Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves.

However in our experience, the Sterkfontein cave is the main, should not miss item. As such most of our tours that included Sterkfontein, are done as a full day tour including other important wildlife, cultural or historical sites.

Collection and drop off O. R. Tambo airport or any other point – Johannesburg or Pretoria.

We can also add many other wild life options or other local tours to create a full day tour.

Perfect tour options to include with the Sterkfontein Cave to create a full day tour:

Overnight options

Many other fossil sites exist in this area but only 13 have been excavated to date. The Cradle of Humankind is of universal value, providing a crucial insight into the early stages of human development including the environment in which our remote ancestors hunted and lived.

15 major Paleontologists sites – discover ancient history and human beginnings – close to Johannesburg.

Sterkfontein Cave

The Sterkfontein Cave is situated 35km to the North-West of Johannesburg (within the The Cradle of Humankind). It is the richest hominid site in South Africa accounting for 40% of the world’s hominid fossils.

History/Sterkfontein

The Sterkfontein cave opening was discovered in 1896 by Mr. G. Martignalia who was mining the Sterkfontein Hill. The cave was subsequently explored and found to contain magnificent flow stone formations, which attracted the interest of several geologists. (Martin et al., 2003). Between 1918 and 1920, however, the cave was irreversibly damaged by limestone mining exploitation and explosions.

In 1947, Broom discovered the most complete australopithecine known as Mrs. Ples. In 1957, the owners of the Sterkfontein farm donated the cave and surrounding areas to the University of Witwatersrand.

The Tour – Sterkfontein Cave

There are two levels in the Sterkfontein cave, the upper section that was open at the surface for millions of years and contains the fossils. The lower section is open to the public with spectacular shapes, eroded from the dolomite. A complex near the entrance includes a virtual reality auditorium, exhibition spaces, lecture theatre, restaurant and shop.

From here tours are conducted through the iconic caves, which reveal the unfolding journey of humankind.

Cradle of Humankind tours available – 6 days a week.

Sterkfontein Caves and Maropeng are now closed for Mondays.

The Exhibition/Sterkfontein

Professionally created, interesting and easy to understand displays provide information and life like illustrations of the evolution of human kind; covering Hominid illustrations from the 7 million year old Chad Toumai fossil through to modern humans. Fossil finds such as Mrs Ples, Little foot and the Taung Child are discussed in detail.

Maropeng – Cradle of Humankind

Maropeng – a Setswana word “returning to the place of origin”. Maropeng is an early stone age site, with is rocks being used for early stone tools. Intriguing interactive journey through the history of life on earth. Humankind’s origins and its continuing journey into the future. Go back in time with a underground boat ride. The evolving story of life. The site overlooks the magnificent Magaliesberg and Witwatersberg mountain ranges.

Wonder Cave

2.2 million years old with a 45 000 cubic meter chamber accommodating stalactite and stalagmite formations of up to 15 meters. It was opened to the public in 1991. Early lime mining fortunately did not damage this natural wonder. Access to the cave is via 88 steps to a lift that will take you down into the cave. Pathways are well lit and no crawling is necessary. This allows easy public access.

Swartkrans

The second richest site in this area with numerous hominid fossils finds, predominantly of Australopithecus robustus. Bone tools have been found, thought to have been made and used by Homo Ergaster, the forefather of Homo sapiens. Swartkrans is the site of fossilized hearths, demonstrating the earliest known use of fire. A collection of 270 burnt bones, 1.3 million years old, clearly proves this ability to control fire.

Driemolen

The third richest site in the area with only recent excavations, which include 75 fossils of Australopithecus robustus and a 2 million year old, almost complete female skull.

Kromdraai

Paranthropus robustus, more robust hominid existing 2-1 million years ago in South Africa.

Bolt’s Farm

Series of old lime quarries. Bolt’s Farm is the oldest fossil site within the cradle of humankind, dating to about 4.5 million years. Notable fossil finds include jaguar-like forms and saber-toothed cats.

Coopers B

Became the third South African cave deposit to yield a hominid fossil. Including part of the face of a Hominids like Paranthropus robustus, and some isolated teeth, as well as a range of animal fossils.

Gladysvale Cave

First cave visited by Robert Broom in the mid-1930’s. The oldest deposits are around 2 million years old, with a considerable volume of breccia. Over 250 000 fossils have been recovered from the Gladysvale cave, including rare remains of hominids, a wolf – like form and skull of a giant hyena.

Haasgat

Early lime mining caused damage and resulting in part of the roof collapsing. No hominids fossils, discoveries limited to early forest-dwelling monkeys, indicating the deposits to be around 1.3 million years old.

Gondolin

Fossil Hominid teeth have been found at this site, although excavation has, to date, been limited. Fossils finds to date suggest the age to of about 1.3 million years ago.

Plovers Lake

Fossils of a large number of animals, including baboons, antelope and extinct Zebra, have been found at Plovers lake. No hominid fossils have been discovered, however most of the site has not been excavated. Some deposits have been dated to around 1 million.

Kromdraai

Aged between 1.6 to 1.9 million years old with the first fossil discovery of Paranthropus robustus and three different saber toothed cats as well as thousands of animal fossils being found.

Components of the Cradle of Humankind

Please Note: Only Maropeng, Sterkfontein Caves and Wonder Caves are open to the general public. Tours to the other sites can be arranged and are conducted by specialist paleontologists. Prior notice is required and extra costs are applicable.

Perfect tour options to include with the Cradle of Humankind to create a full day tour: Elephant Sanctuary and DeWildt Cheetah Sanctuary

Aerial Cable way, Hartbeespoort: Spectacular panoramic views of Hartbeespoort dam, Magaliesberg and surrounding area from the aerial cable way and the view points and walkway on top.

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Ekala Family & Guides

Full or Half Day Tours

personalised historic, cultural or custom Tours.

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including Johannesburg, Pretoria, Soweto, Gold, Diamond, Gauteng Aviation and Military History.

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Eco wildlife including Pilanesberg, Kruger National and Hluhluwe - Umfolozi Game Park.

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including Johannesburg, Pretoria, Soweto, Alexandra Township and local Cultural Villages.

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including Sandton to O.R. Tambo Airport, Pretoria and Johannesburg Park Station Transfers.