Cradle of Humankind

Page updated : 13th September 2019
Page created : 26th March 2013

“Maropeng is educational and great fun!“

“Maropeng has top quality exhibits, with an interesting, entertaining guide“

The entrance to the Maropeng Visitor Centre, Cradle of Humankind, which is built in the shape of an old burial mound

At the entrance to the Maropeng Tumulus museum building, you have a choice of following either the 'Adults' arrow, pointing to the left, or heading for the 'Children's Entrance', straight ahead.

Following the 'Adult' arrow, takes you to a side entrance where the largest display of original fossil hominin material, in history, is on display!

The display consists of a sample of the 1,700+ skeletal bones recovered since 2013, from the Rising Star Cave system, which is part of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.

A comparison of skull features of Homo naledi and other early human species

The above comparison of skull features, of Homo naledi and other early human species, is taken from Wikipedia, and is attributed to Chris Stringer, Natural History Museum, United Kingdom.

Some of the excavations and outdoor displays leading up to the entrance

Not far from the Sterkfontein Caves is the Maropeng Visitor Centre, where the theme of our human development, and a peep at our early ancestors, continues!

It's a modern, world class exhibition, and one of only twelve sites worldwide, that is recognised by the Smithsonian Museum for being influential in promoting the awareness of human evolution.

Great for kids!

Your tour really starts before you get inside the Tumulus building.

Outdoor displays and small excavations, of an Early Stone Age site, that have unearthed, amongst other objects, cleavers and handaxes, line the path.

The early humans that inhabited this area were hunter-gatherers, and it was they who hewed these tools out of the local rock.

Information correct
13th September 2019

Every day : 09h00 - 17h00 (9.00am - 5.00pm)
Last boat ride at 16h00

Adults: R120
Children under 18: R65
Children under 4: Free
Pensioners : R65 (gives you access to both Maropeng and Sterkfontein Caves - with valid ID Card needed)
Students: R75 (with valid student card)
School Groups: R65 per pupil


Maropeng and Sterkfontein Caves Combined ticket :
Available until 13h00 (1.00pm)
Adults: R190
Children under 18: R125
Children under 4: Free
Students: R175 (valid student card)
School Groups: R120 per pupil

Telephone : +27 (0)14 577-9000
Send an E-Mail

Telephone : +27 (0)14 577-9100
Send an E-Mail


On the D400, near Magaliesberg Village
Between the R24 (Magaliesberg) and the R563 (Hekpoort) Roads
8,7 kms from Sterkfontein Caves

GPS Co-ordinates (hddd.ddddd)
S25.97885 E027.66441

Note: the combination ticket is only available until 13h00 (1.00pm), in order for visitors to have enough time to see both exhibitions.

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

Prices are subject to change without prior notice.

Booking is essential for all group and school bookings.

It's once you're inside that the fun begins!

A boat ride through time - starting with the present and going back to the formation of our planet earth, followed by the Vortex Tunnel, replicating a Black hole, with its warnings of possible "dizziness, nausea, unbalance and unsteadiness...", that get you to the start of the museum displays!

The displays are bright, colourful and very interactive, resulting in a hands-on learning experience.

They deal with the formation of the earth, our physiological development from early man and our cultural evolution to where we are today.

Part of the interactive display at the Maropeng Visitor Centre . . .

On the negative side, the message the exhibits portray is not unique, and some tend to be a bit confusing due to insufficient explanation.

Guides, who are available, are probably essential to you enjoying the experience.

. . . more of the interactive display at Maropeng Visitor Centre . . .

. . . and still more of the interactive display at Maropeng Visitor Centre

An interesting little side show after exiting the museum, is the Kiddies Cave.

It's a small, man made hide away for the little ones to explore, that is dark enough to be adventurous.

Entrance to the Kiddies Cave at Maropeng

The Homo naledi Exhibition

This exhibit is currently not on show, as it is on display in the USA.

Rick Hunter and Steven Tucker, two recreational cavers, discovered fossils, of a yet to be identified hominid, in September 2013 in the Rising Star Cave system, in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site

The new species, named Homo Naledi, was announced to the world at a press conference in September 2015

An exhibit showing the scientists working on the findings of Homo naledi

People, fitting certain criteria - due to the nature of the work as well as confined conditions, were needed to excavate the bones.

Palaeoanthropologist Lee Berger, from the University of the Witwatersrand, put an ad. on his Facebook page on 6th October 2013, and the 6 female scientists who were chosen, were given the name 'Underground Astronauts'

They had no idea what they were coming to, as the expedition was shrouded in secrecy.

Their 'fate' was to excavate the bones of Homo naledi from the Dinaledi Chamber, and were given the name because of the danger in entering a shaft, that narrowed to a 175 mm (7 in) opening, to get to the cave, 10 metres (36 ft) below.

A display of the Excavation on left, and the six 'Underground Astronauts' bouncing of the wall in the background

A scan of the Rising Star Cave system showing the Dinaledi Chamber at bottom left

The remains of a child and a partial skeleton of an adult male, named Neo by scientists, were found in a second chamber, called Lesedi.

Access to the Lesedi chamber was almost as difficult as reaching the Dinaledi chamber.

The Lesedi Chamber exhibit at Maropeng

Neo, a partial skeleton of a male Homo naledi, was found in a second chamber, called Lesedi

Homo naledi on display at Maropeng

Bones from 15 individuals make up this display of Homo naledi

Maropeng Road (between the R24 and the R563)
Cradle of Humankind
Maropeng website

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