Caves, Cradle of Humankind
After an extensive face-lift in 2005, the Sterkfontein Caves is now home to a top restaurant, conferencing facilities, improved access into the caves, new walkways and a boardwalk past the excavation site where world-acclaimed fossils have been discovered.
The new scientific exhibition centre showcases a reconstruction of a mined cave – versus a pristine cave – cave formations and geology, early life forms, mammals and hominid fossils, among other topics. It describes in detail important finds such as “Mrs Ples”, the “Taung Child” and “Little Foot”, as well as providing information about fossilisation, palaeobotany and landscapes.
The tours at the Sterkfontein Caves, which start above ground and then take visitors deep into the caves, run every half hour, seven days a week.
Within the caves, scientists have discovered many hominid and other animal fossils, dating back more than 4-million years, to the birth of humanity. The most important and most famous of these fossils are “Mrs Ples”, a 2.1-million-year-old Australopithecus skull, and “Little Foot”, an almost complete Australopithecus skeleton that is more than 3-million years old. These fossils, both found in the Sterkfontein Caves in the Cradle of Humankind, tell us much about the precursors of modern humans, Homo sapiens.
Please wear comfortable shoes when going to the caves and leave your handbags and other luggage behind. There are a number of tight spots and pathways to negotiate in the caves and it is not advisable to do the tour if you are claustrophobic. It is also not advisable for people who suffer from acute asthma or chest problems to do the tour as there are a lot of stairs.