The Cradle of Humankind, Gauteng
Did you know?
You can take an underground boat tour of Maropeng.
The Cradle of Humankind, located in the Sterkfontein Valley near Johannesburg, was proclaimed a World Heritage Site in December 1999.
It was approved by UNESCO on the basis that 'the area contains an exceptionally large and scientifically significant group of sites, which throw light on the earliest ancestors of humankind...they constitute a vast reserve of scientific information, the potential of which is enormous'.
It comprises a unique band of palaeo-anthropological sites across 47 000ha in the provinces of Gauteng and the North West.
The Cradle of Humankind has yielded some of the most extensive fossil and artefact finds on earth, particularly for the period between one and four million years ago, leading scientists to believe that the human family tree took root here.
Over time these first people used their hands to shape the first tool, spoke the first word, and slowly migrated north on a journey to populate the earth.
There are 13 explored sites within the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. Among these are the Sterkfontein Caves, where the famous Mrs Ples and Little Foot fossils were found; Kromdraai, which contains later hominid specimens; Godolin, which is home to an astonishing 90 000 fossil specimens; and Swartkrans, where burnt bones point to the earliest controlled use of fire at least one million years ago.
To cater for the needs of visitors wanting a world-class natural, cultural and historical experience in one, the Cradle of Humankind facilities at Sterkfontein Caves were upgraded and the Maropeng Visitor Centre with adjoining hotel have been constructed at Mohale's Gate
In addition, there are scenic routes through the valley, which connect diverse outdoor activities such as hiking, ballooning, fishing and horse trails with a variety of restaurants, coffee shops, guesthouses and arts and crafts outlets.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
How to get here
Around the area
Tours to do
You can do a combined tour of the Sterkfontein Caves and the Maropeng exhibition for a special price. Note that Sterkfontein is not accessible for people in wheelchairs.
What will it cost
A package tour of Sterkfontein and Maropeng costs R215 per adult, R130 for children and is free for the under-4s. You must arrive before 1pm to do this.
Length of stay
What to pack
Where to stay
What to eat
Every year, several sporting and other events are held in the area, including The Cradle Festival which takes place in April.