Origins of Humankind Craighall Park, Rosebank Region, Johannesburg

The Cradle of Humankind is one of 8 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in South Africa. The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site lies about 50km north-west of Johannesburg, an area of rolling grassland, rocky outcrops and river courses typical of this land before it was overtaken by urban sprawl.

Origins of Humankind
  • Origins Centre Rock Art Museum, Wits 9-5 daily; excellent museum – well-conceived and one of the few museums that is still well-maintained. If you can’t get to the Cradle then this is a good substitute but if you can do both this is a good background. Nice gift shop and café; R45 entrance adults; R22 children under 12; Guided tours provided plus taped tours available in English, French, German, Afrikaans, Zulu and Sotho
  • World Heritage Site, Cradle of Humankind (40 minute drive from Liz at Lancaster) is an area of about 47,000 hectares. The dolomitic hills are 2.6bn years old – more than half the age of the Earth itself. There are more than three dozen fossil-bearing caves in the Cradle of Humankind including important sites like Swartkrans, Drimolen, Wonder Cave, Cooper’s Cave, Bolt’s Farm, Motsetsi, Plover’s Lake, Kromdraai, amongst others. Sadly the famous Sterkfontein Caves, which is the one site the public had access to, has been closed indefinitely. But the Maropeng Information Centre has extensive exhibits with many interactive displays.
  • On the Krugersdorp side is the Maropeng Information Centre which includes a lot of interactive displays. There are two restaurants at Maropeng itself – one that serves light meals and snacks and another more formal restaurant with spectacular views. There is also a restaurant in the Hotel which is a 5 minute walk form the information centre. There are restaurants and various star gazing events so check the website.
  • If you want to combine animals and paleontology then you could go to the Rhino and Lion Park, also in the Cradle of Humankind, where Wonder Cave is located. 011 957 0109 . There is quite a wide variety of animals and there is a tour of Wonder Cave.
There are some great restaurants out in the Cradle
  • Roots restaurant at the Forum Homini Hotel is sublime. Five-course Saturday brunches & six-course Sunday lunches are highly popular and reservations are essential to avoid any disappointment. What a setting. Roots is open every day lunch and dinner except Saturday for brunch and dinner only and Sunday lunch only. 011 668-7000
  • A new restaurant at Nirox: and then there was fire (yes that’s right, no caps) operates Thursdays to Sundays 10am to 6pm. In what was the pavilion, it is a farm table and tapas Argentinian-style cooked over an open wood-fired grill 011 645 3744 645. Booking essential!
  • A stunning modern building, which is set in a 3000 hectare private game reserve, houses the Cradle Restaurant. There is a wonderful view from the verandah overlooking of the Highveld bush. Sadly the food and the service can be a little ‘iffy’.