This post is about the Cradle of Humankind Where History is Appreciated. Many stories have been told about the evolution of man from ancient times. Archaeologists have been at pains trying to make man understand his past. Nowhere else have these scientists found helpful answers than the Cradle of Humankind located in South Africa.
LOCATION OF CRADLE OF HUMANKIND
When you go to South Africa, Cradle of Humankind is found about fifty kilometres in the northwestern direction of Johannesburg in the Gauteng Province. Although this province is an economic centre of South Africa, you shall be ready to explore the sites that are of historical importance to the existence of man more than three million years ago. This site also boasts of more than one-third of the world’s historical fossils dug up from Maropeng and Sterkfontein Caves.
THE MAROPENG CAVES
Maropeng is the local language in Setswana and it means “Returning to the place of origin.” The Cradle of Humankind or Maropeng Visitor Center is the first one to visit as every information you need including extending your visit to the Sterkfontein Caves is processed from here. This is the centre where you may discover the ancestors of human beings dating way back in ancient times in comparison to the fossils discovered at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania. Moreover, there are fossils also for various animals including the largest dinosaur found in Africa. Maropeng is a World Heritage Site.
Situated about eleven kilometres from the Maropeng Cave, Sterkfontein Cave is also A World Heritage Site with fossils more ancient than the East African fossils at Olduvai Gorge. Here fossils record back to three hundred million years. Both caves contribute to the notion of scientists that the humankind’s birthplace might have taken place here. Here is a museum that is well equipped to explain the humankind’s background. Visiting both caves will make you conclude that a trip of a lifetime has just taken place as one considers where he or she has come from and what the future holds.
IS THE AREA A WILDERNESS OR NOT?
One may think that these two World Heritage Sites are located in the wilderness of South Africa. As you drive towards these sites in the sub-urban area of Johannesburg, you shall notice that the Visitors’ Center is partially developed as restaurants, shops and good lodges and hotels have been built nearby amounting to about four hundred establishments in the whole area. It is not a small area but covers over fifty hectares of land. These sites contribute significantly to the tourism industry of South Africa. People here learn to appreciate this kind of environment where man supports the tourism industry in order to protect and preserve it because of his livelihood. Human and animal conflict here is almost non-existent.
SOME ACTIVITIES ONE MAY BE INVOLVED IN WHILE AT THESE SITES
There are many activities one may be involved in at these sites as facilities are enough to attract your involvement somehow. Walking safari or game viewing, descending or ascending narrow caves, height jumps, cycling and witnessing excavations taking place led by scientists from Witwatersrand University. Thirteen sites have been excavated and the exercise is ongoing. There is something for everyone to enjoy.
Homo Naledi, apart from “Mrs Ples” and “Little Foot” is the latest fossil to be excavated and dates back to millions of years. Little Foot’s skeleton had been complete when it was discovered and had a full set of thirty-two teeth. Homo Naledi is the “latest” or newly found ancestor of humankind after a 21 day excavation period. This undertaking was one of the most dangerous of all although no life was lost. It included going several times (sometimes up to seven times a day) squeezing oneself through a tiny hole up and down. Scientists had to bed and craw into narrow tunnels to ensure success.
The Cradle of Humankind reserved as a World Heritage Site in South Africa can be described as a Historian Paradise. Here is where historical names such as prehistoric Tumulus, Homo Habilis, Australopithecus Africanus, Plesianthropus and more come out automatically out of the mouths of paleo philanthropists. Their enthusiasm as they narrate what transpired millions ago leaves you breathless and then panting for some more details. As you descend into the caves, guides ensure that you are wearing a hard hat. The evolution of life, in general, is really interesting and fascinating at the same time.
Before entering the Sterkfontein Cave the guide tells you what you are about to see when you enter the cave. One of the expected sites is an underground lake. It is about sixty meters below the cave. No crocodiles are found inside the underground lake. Above the underground lake is the limestone. Prospecting miners who had been looking for precious stones discovered this important cave.
CULTURE AND CRAFTS
When you visit the World Heritage Site, it is not just humanity’s ancestors’ skeletons you will see, but you shall be able to appreciate the African culture and crafts. Some artefacts and curios will be fascinating enough to be bought as souvenirs. You may want to climb to the Table Mountain in a cage. After that, you would be free to eat dinner in a traditional or modern restaurant and then taste some popular amazing wine of South Africa. You may like to be treated to traditional dancing or dance the night away in a live jazz bar in Johannesburg. It is all up to you.
Tigers are rare animals to watch in Africa, but you will be accorded to see one when you reach the World Heritage Site.
WEDDING VENUES AND CONFERENCE CENTERS
Wedding venues and conference centres are found around the World Heritage Site. They have become popular recently and they are wonderful venues for those seeking a venue for a wedding reception. The conference centres are also becoming popular for international conferences.
PERCEPTION FROM VISITORS
Some visitors to the site remark that the tour of the World Heritage Site is fascinating beyond what they had imagined before embarking on the tour. I hope you have a similar perception when you visit the site.