Cradle of Humankind – UNESCO Site

Maropeng is the official visitor centre of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, “Cradle of Humankind”, and the Sterkfontein Caves.

Maropeng is an appropriate choice of name for the tourist centre. First off, it’s Setswana, the indigenous language spoken by most of the local population. Secondly, translated into English it would be “returning to the place of origin”.

The Cradle of Humankind site is just an hour drive from either Johannesburg or Pretoria,  just off the R563 Hekpoort Road, Sterkfontein, 1911, South Africa. The first ancestor of every person on this planet lived in this area 3 million years ago. Therefore, by visiting Maropeng, tourists are returning home to the place of their true roots. It is definitely an attraction that shouldn’t be missed.

Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999, the “Cradle of Humankind” occupies an area of 466.2 km² and contains a complex of limestone caves, including the Sterkfontein Caves, where the 2.3 million year-old fossil of Australopithecus africanus, nicknamed “Mrs. Ples”, was discovered in 1947 by Dr. Robert Broom and John T. Robinson. The find helped to corroborate the 1924 discovery of a juvenile Australopithecus africanus skull, known as “Taung Child”, by Raymond Dart, at Taung in the North West Province of South Africa, where excavations still continues.

The Cradle of Humankind site has produced a large number of hominin fossils, as well as some of the oldest ever found. Some of the fossils date as far back as 3.5 million years. The Sterkfontein Caves alone have produced more than a third of all early hominid fossils found prior to 2010.

The UNESCO World Heritage Site is the attraction, but the Maropeng Visitors Centre is the official gateway to the Cradle of Humankind site. There’s an exhibition building, hotel, restaurant and conference centre, as well as an admissions area. The Maropeng Visitors Centre was opened on 7 December 2005 by Thabo Mbeki, who was the South African President at the time.

For more information contact…
Telephone number for Maropeng and Sterkfontein Caves: +27 (0)14 577 9000
Hotel reservation phone number: +27 (0)14 577 9100
Restaurant reservation number: +27 (0)14 577 9000

If you’ve visited the UNESCO World Heritage Site, “Cradle of Humankind”, or have stayed at the Maropeng Hotel, please share your experience with other travelers by adding a review in the comment section below. Thank you!

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Vagabond Travel came into being April 16, 2014 when I departed Canada heading for Mexico City. I have no destination in mind, nor an itinerary to follow. This is a sort of website, journal and travel blog all rolled into one. That’s about it.

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