The Cradle of Humankind, nicknamed as the place where humans originated, is a paleoanthropological site in the Gauteng province, South Africa. Extending just a bit into the North West Province, the site covers 47 000 hectares of land, which is mostly privately owned.

With over 200 caves on the site and the possibility of discovering more, the site is populated by a strip of limestone caves that contain fossilised remains of ancient forms of animals, plants and hominids.

The site has 13 fossil sites which have been extensively examined and have a variety of some of the stone tools which were used by our human ancestors. Tools such as axes and scrapers.

What’s cool about the Cradle of Humankind?

In 1999 it was declared as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

These are some of the fossil-bearing caves in the Cradle of Humankind:
•Cooper’s Cave



•Makapan valley


•Plovers Lake

•Rising Star Cave



•Wonder Cave

The site has produced some of the world’s most valuable evidence of the origins of modern humans, hence its name “Cradle of Humankind”.

The Cradle of Humankind is one of eight World Heritage Sites in South Africa, and the only one in Gauteng.

The image above is “Little Foot”, Little Foot is an astonishing fossilised skeleton of an early form of Australopithecus. It is said to be 3.67-million years old, making it the oldest known hominid from the Cradle of Humankind.

Little Foot was found deep inside a Sterkfontein cavern, where he probably fell into the deep shaft that was covered with undergrowth.

This is the complete ‘Little Foot’ skeleton which was unveiled in 2017.

What does think about the Cradle of Humankind?

We call it the genesis of humankind. The Cradle of Humankind is that place we as South Africans and the rest of Africa can brag about. It’s that place that puts a stamp on the origins of us as human beings. It give scientists the ability to understand how the hominids have changed and diversified since inception.

A visit to the Cradle of Humankind will give you the chance to learn about stones and bones, while also dining in the peaceful surroundings.


Open and closing times


The Maropeng Visitor Centre is open to the public from 9am to 5pm every day. The last boat ride departs at 4pm.

NB: No dogs are permitted on the property. Service dogs and guide dogs are the exception.

Sterkfontein Caves

The Sterkfontein Caves are open to the public from 9am to 5pm every day. The last tour departs at 4pm.

The tours of the Sterkfontein Caves, which start above ground and then take visitors deep into the caves, run every half an hour, seven days a week.

Admission fees for 2018


Adults: R120

Children (under 18): R65

Children under four: free

Pensioners: R65 for access to both Maropeng and the Sterkfontein Caves (on presentation of a valid ID)

Students: R75 (on presentation of a valid student card)

School groups: R65 per pupil

Sterkfontein Caves

Adults: R165

Children (under 18): R97

Children under four: free

Students: R100 (on presentation of a valid student card)

School groups: R90 per pupil

Combination ticket (Maropeng and Sterkfontein Caves)

Adults: R190

Children (under 18): R125

Children under four: free

School groups: R120 per pupil

Pensioners: R65 (on presentation of a valid ID)

NB: no pensioner/student discount applies for the combination ticket. The combination ticket is only available until 1pm, in order for visitors to have enough time to see both attractions.

The Maropeng Visitor Centre and its restaurants are all wheelchair accessible. Unfortunately, the Sterkfontein Caves site is not.

Prices are subject to change without prior notice.

Booking is essential for all group and school bookings.

Private tours

Private tours of the caves may be arranged at a nominal fee.

Booking in advance is strongly advised for groups as well as individuals, as the number of visitors entering the Sterkfontein Caves at a time is limited.

Tours conducted by scientists can be arranged at an additional cost.


Tel: +27 (0)14 577 9000 (


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