A great number of the world’s most influential cities trace their heritage to early human settlements thousands of years back. In this case, Johannesburg, South Africa’s first tenants moved in about 3 million years ago.
Fifty kilometers northwest of the Gauteng province, surrounded by wild grass, shrubs and trees, sits a 47,000 hectare attraction known as “The Cradle of Humankind.”
This renowned destination houses over 400 attractions, including the famous Sterkfontein Caves, restaurants, arts & craft outlets, lodges and wildlife facilities. Its history is told through the ancient fossils that have been found here, some even dating back as far as 3.5 million years ago.
The Sterkfontein is the biggest and most popular cave in the site, since it alone has produced most of the early hominid fossils ever found. The Australopithecus Africanicus & Little Foot, two major finds in this cave, made a remarkable impact in modern paleontology.
The former, nicknamed “Mrs. Ples,” was found by Robert Bloom in 1947 and is believed to date back 2.5 million years. The latter, found by Ronald Clarke and Phillip Tobias in 1995, is an almost complete ape-man skeleton, which is said to be 4 million years old.
Only a section of the cave is open to the public. However, tourists may view the excavation sites from a gravel platform. Other facilities include a tea-room and a museum in which artifacts and information are on display about significant findings in the area.
This World Heritage Site has more than three dozen fossil-bearing caves, each one with a remarkable story to tell. It is the perfect destination for eco-tourists and a rich source of information for scientists and researchers.
Most importantly, it gives us a glimpse into the lives of the first humans—how they were constantly evolving and changing.
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