#9 Cradle of Humankind

South Africa Travel Blog

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The Cradle of Humankind is a collection of various sites in South Africa which contain fossils of hominids, dating back millions of years. The Cradle of Humankind is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and has been since 1999. In 2005 the Cradle of Humankind was expanded, and a visitor center was opened.

Covering some 47,000 hectares, the Cradle of Humankind is the name given to the area in which a series of dolomitic caves have in the last fifty years or so produced nearly two-fifths of the world's hominid fossil discoveries. Given its accessibility and the richness of the finds, it has now arguably overtaken Tanzania's Olduvai Gorge as Africa's (and therefore the world's) most important paleontological site.

As yet, the tourist facilities are few: many of the caves are fragile, and jealously protected by the scientists working on them. However, you can see inside the famous Sterkfontein Caves, and there are excellent specialized paleontological tours available. Elsewhere within the Cradle are largely unrelated attractions, such as the Rhino and Lion Nature Reserve and the Kromdraai Wonder Cave.

To reach the Cradle of Humankind by car, head west out of Johannesburg on the R47 (Hendrik Potgieter Road) or M5 (Beyers Naude Drive), then follow the N14 until the R563 junction. A few kilometres northwest along the R563 is a right turn which will take you to the Sterkfontein Caves turn-off.

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