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Cradle of Humankind, Maropeng Visitor Centre, Kromdraai

Early Hominids Exhibition Maropeng

The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site in Kromdraai, Krugersdorp, just an hour from Johannesburg or Pretoria, is renowned as the place where humankind began. It is here that the first hominid, Australopithecus, was found in 1924 at Taung in the North West Province. The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and the Maropeng Visitor Centre is a major tourist attraction in South Africa.

The World Class Maropeng Visitor Centre at the Cradle of Humankind Heritage Site tries to help us understand where we come from and where we are going as humans – from the formation of the planet through the evolutionary process to the modern world.  See fossils, learn how humankind was born, view stone tools that are up to two million years old, and much more. This self-guided, interactive tour allows you to take all the time you need to ponder humanity’s fascinating origin.

Winner of the 2008 Tourist Attraction category at the South African Tourism Welcome Awards, the Maropeng Museum is not just for archaeology buffs and school groups. As a tourist destination it will inform at the least, and very possibly change the way you think of yourself and the world around you.

Though the exhibitions are based on the ground-breaking hominid fossil discoveries at the nearby Sterkfontein Caves and at the other archaeological sites on the 47000-hectare Cradle of Humankind estate, the Maropeng Visitor Centre extends beyond archaeological finds.

A unique introductory feature takes you on a boat ride through the ‘Elements’ of Fire, Water (and Ice), Earth and Air. Further exhibitions display and detail various themes from and related to the birth of the planet and the development of DNA and life on Earth, showcasing progress from evolution to extinction, The Gaia Principle (the theory of a living Earth), right through to modern society, how we function as a species, and on to our ‘ecological’ footprint and future.

In addition to the fixed exhibitions at the Visitor Centre, Maropeng also offers other activities such as stargazing and astronomy talks and exhibitions by a resident astronomer, as well as archaeological tours and excursions.

Its convenient location is near the Sterkfontein Caves. You can easily take a tour to the Caves – the site of the most longstanding, continuous paleoanthropological dig in the world. The Sterkfontein Caves are world-renowned for their fossil finds. These caves have produced the 3,3 million year old pre-human skull popularly known as “Mrs Ples,” and an almost complete hominid skeleton affectionately known as “Little Foot”. The caves and the exhibition are separated from one another by several kilometers. You can purchase a ticket for either or both but allow time to travel between them and have transportation figured out beforehand.

There are many places to eat, from the excellent on-site restaurant and two more within the Maropeng precinct – the Market Place restaurant, which serves light meals and snacks, and the more formal Tumulus restaurant, which offers a range of culinary options with spectacular views over the Cradle of Humankind. There is also a restaurant at the Sterkfontein Caves that offers a wide variety of snacks and meals.

Maropeng Open Monday – Sunday. 09:00 – 16:00 (final tour at 16:30)
Sterkfontein Caves
Open Monday – Sunday. 09:00 – 16:00 (final tour at 16h00)

Please note that due to the heavy rainfall Sterkfontein Caves will be closed until further notice!

You can also visit the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve with its 650 head of game, the Wondercave which dates back 2 200 million years, with is breath-taking formations as well as the first Gold mine on the Witwatersrand, as they are situated very close to the Cradle of Humankind. The area is also a rich haven for those with a passion for trout fishing

Getting there:Take the N14/R563 north out of Johannesburg, past Roodepoort and Krugersdorp to Maropeng. Turn left on to the R400 at the sign for the Maropeng Museum. Then take the R563 to Hekpoort. Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves are situated on the same road, about 10km apart.

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