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LOCAL TIME: 11:36 am | Thursday, 18 July
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The Sterkfontein Caves, Cradle of Humankind

The Sterkfontein Caves is the main archeological site of The Cradle of Humankind in the Magaliesberg just north of Johannesburg on the West Rand, Gauteng.

This is where Archeologist Dr. Robert Broom discovered the 2.1 million year old hominid skull fossil ‘Mrs Ples’ in 1947. The discovery of this fossil and others from the same ‘pre-human’ species Australopithecus Africanus at Sterkfontein and also in various other parts of South Africa* changed ideas as to the origins of man, and gave credence to Darwin’s theory that modern humans originated in Africa.

The scientific importance of the discoveries at Sterkfontein led to the declaration of the Sterkfontein surrounds as a World Heritage Site in 1999 – more than 50 years after the discovery of Mrs Ples (so named for the latin word for ‘almost human’ – Plesianthropus).

The caves have in recent years been upgraded into a tourist destination with Cave and archeological site tours running on the half hour, 7 days a week. There is also a restaurant and conferencing facilities, as well as exhibits that compliment the nearby Maropeng Visitor Centre and Museum and exhibits on the origins of modern humans.

Getting there: Take the N14/R563 north out of Johannesburg , past Roodepoort and Krugersdorp toward Maropeng, but turn right off R563 R400 at the sign for the Sterkfontein Caves before Maropeng.

*see Makapans Valley (Makapansgat Valley) in the Limpopo Province

More info on the quaint town of Magaliesberg More info on the West Rand area