Price 1 AdultZAR 4900.00
Price 2 AdultsZAR 5950.00
Price Per Extra Adult More Than 2ZAR 2700.00
Is “The Cradle” where it all started?
To the west of Johannesburg where the Highveld starts its descent to the “Bushveld” from the gold-bearing ridge of the Witwatersrand lies an area of undulating hills referred to as the Cradle of Humankind. It gains its name from the huge amounts of fossil remains of early man and our more apelike ancestors discovered here in the dolomite caves just beneath its surface. The unusual geology of the region has made it one of the richest fossil-bearing regions in the world not just of early apemen but many other extinct creatures.
The most famous of the caves where the first fossil discoveries were made and continue to be made are at a place called Sterkfontein. It is a must when in this region to visit these caves. There are guided tours down into the caves every half an hour. At the start of the walkway leading to the caves, there is a reception area with a small restaurant and very informative interpretive centre. Built to give an open view of the “veld” it is a very pleasant place to enjoy a coffee and small snack before continuing on your exploration of the region.
Important Note. The Sterkfontein Caves are closed until further notice due to flood damage in 2021. In the meantime in their place we are offering a tour of the Origins Centre at the University of the Witwatersrand in its place. The Caves are administered by the Universities Anthropology Department and they are the custodians of all the recovered fossils from the Cradle of Humankind and many other sites throughout Southern Africa. This is then followed by a visit to the Cradle and Maropeng Mound as described below ( or to the Wonder Cave).
Origins Centre at Witwatersrand University Johannesburg.
The interactive exhibits at Origins Centre take visitors on an extraordinary journey of discovery, which begins with the origins of humankind in Africa and then moves through the development of technology, art, culture, and symbolism. The journey continues with an exploration of the diverse Southern African rock art traditions. These ancient masterworks, and the artists, are illustrated through contemporary art installations by well-known South African artists.
Origins Centre permanent exhibitions:
- Indigenous Gardens – edible and medicinal plants from different biomes that were used in the past and currently by ritual specialists throughout southern Africa.
- African Origins – Early African stone tools from 2.6 million years ago; the origins of humanity in Africa and what makes us human; The sands of time across the world; replica hominin skulls showing our human evolution over the last 7 million years
- The San and Rock Art – San and their Hunter-Gatherer past; San genocide and Sara Baartman; The eland in San belief; San painting technologies; The trance dance and how San ritual specialists enter the spirit world; rain making and neuropsychology; Interpreting a rock art panel.
- Rock Engraving Archive – Varied engraved rock art traditions & styles in Southern Africa. Can be explored through augmented reality (Download the app on Android or IOS – originscentrear)
- Conservation – Conservation problems facing rock art sites today and site etiquette
- Tapestry Room – Understanding and interpreting San Art; The history of the San told through 11 embroidered panels; The ‘White Lady of the Brandberg’
- Khoe Art – The geometric art found in southern Africa; Who are the Khoekhoen?
- Early (Iron Age) Farmers – The rise of complex societies, including information on Mapungubwe and Great Zimbabwe; Protest art of the Makgabeng
- Installations by contemporary artists – One Being by Deborah Glencross; World Map by Walter Oltman; Axis Mundi by Russel Scott; Synanthrope by Hannelie Coetzee; Signs of People by Willem Boshoff; Threads of Knowing by Tamar Mason; Double Vision by Pippa Scotness & Malcolm Payne; Glass Beads by Martli Jansen van Rensburg.
Maropeng Visitors Centre
To attract more visitors to the area another site has been created at Maropeng to the north. At Maropeng inside a great hollow mound is a presentation on the history and prehistory of our species. It is very popular with the busloads of schoolchildren that visit the area. But the interactive displays fascinate both old and young. From the top of the mound are wonderful views of the countryside as far as the Magaliesberg Mountains. There is a restaurant for light meals, a curio shop, and footpaths have been laid to explore the “highveld” grasslands surrounding the venue.
Alternative to Maropeng
Instead of visiting Maropeng ( as there is some duplication with the Origins Centre) not far away are the the Wonder Caves. Or we can do a combination of Maropeng and the Wonder Caves.
(Light lunch included)
Extended day, combined with one or more of the many regions attractions
Within easy reach of the Cradle of Humankind are most of the region’s major attractions. So while in the area it is wise to consider adding some of them in combination on a day or two or three outings. Consider staying in the area rather than in central Johannesburg and you are welcome to consult us for recommendations at various levels of affordability.
To the northeast situated on some high “koppies” is the Rhino and Lion Game Reserve. Here roaming free are Rhinoceros, many antelope species including the rare Sable, Zebra, Warthog, and many smaller mammals. In separate “mini reserves” are Lion, Cheetah and African Wild Dog. There is a licensed restaurant at the centre of the reserve where you can stop for lunch in between viewing the game and the distant views of Johannesburg from the top of one of the koppies. This reserve is an excellent opportunity for the hurried visitor to Gauteng to see some of South Africa’s famous fauna.
Across the road in a series of ponds formed by a small river, you can leisurely view Hippopotamus’ wallow. Also on view are some exotic species of tiger; which of course are not indigenous but you can use the opportunity to compare to its native cousins the Lion and the Cheetah.
Inside the reserve are the Wonder Caves with awe-inspiring underground caverns and containing some of the most impressive stalactites and stalagmites in South Africa.
To the north, as one leaves “The Cradle” and descends to the foot of the picturesque and incredibly ancient Magaliesberg mountains you will find the Village of Lesedi. Here members of the various ethnic groups that make up the population of South Africa display their traditional way of life and culture in a wonderful three-hour show that includes an optional African Banquet.
A little further on one reaches the shores of the Hartebeespoort Dam a huge manmade lake formed by damming the Crocodile River at the gap or pass in the mountains called after the Hartebeest antelope. This whole area is an attractive weekend playground and retirement region for the cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria. A bridge or causeway leads one across the dam to one of the few gaps in what appears to be the impenetrable ramparts of the Magaliesberg. Through this pass in the mountains called “Kommando Nek” by the Boers during the Anglo-Boer war one descends to the warmer climatic zone of the bushveld. Nearby is a huge craft market with arts and crafts from all over Southern Africa and short distances to the west and to the east lie the Elephant Sanctuary and the Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre, The Lion Park and The Rhino and Lion Reserve all worth a visit. Also worthwhile is the short drive that takes you back through the mountains and across the dam wall which gives views of the deep gorge carved by the Crocodile River.
Applicable extra entrance fees per person plus extra time charges above 8 hours ( length of standard day tour) can apply. Please click on Book/Enquire on this page and let us know what you would like to do.
There are many excellent restaurants and hotels in the region. So why stay in the traffic? Contact us about attractive stays.
All tours are conducted by fully qualified English-speaking tour guides in approved vehicles. Other language guides on request
Pick up and drop anywhere Johannesburg/Pretoria/Airport.
For groups of 4 or larger please contact us for a quotation.
Free Mineral water is included on all our trips!