What to do in the Cradle of Humankind this festive season

Posted on December 18, 2018 — Pakamani Nombila

The festive season we’ve been all looking forward to is almost here. If you’re on the lookout for the ideal place to relax, unwind and reflect on the year that was 2018, a visit to the Cradle of Humankind should be on your to-do list.

The Cradle of Humankind is one of 10 Unesco World Heritage Sites in South Africa and is a mere 90-minute drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria.

The area is home to a diverse range of birdlife, game and rare plant species. It is also home to the world's richest hominin site: 40% of the world's human ancestor fossils that have been discovered to date were found there.

The are numerous attractions, dining establishments and accommodation options to choose from that are suitable for various budgetary needs. Here are some of our top picks, ranging from fun recreational activities to accommodation spaces and places to eat.

Where to go

Maropeng:

Maropeng is the official visitor centre of the Cradle of Humankind. It is a must-visit spot, with exhibitions that take visitors on a journey into the origins of humankind.

Visitors to the centre learn through various interactive exhibits about how the Earth was formed and how humankind evolved, while the sustainability wall highlights the importance of saving the environment. At this world-class centre, you can look forward to seeing fos­sils and viewing stone tools that are dated at up to a mil­lion years old.

For bookings, phone +27 (0)14 577 9000 or email info@maropeng.co.za.

(Image: maropengsa)

Sterkfontein Caves:

The Sterkfontein Caves are located at the heart of Cradle of Humankind. These limestone caves are famous for being the site where a number of hominid and ani­mal fos­sils were discovered, some dating back more than four mil­lion years.

One of the most famous finds in the Sterkfontein Caves was Mrs Ples, a 2.1-million-year-old Australopithecus skull. The most recent significant discovery was Little Foot, a nearly complete Australopithecus skeleton that is more than three mil­lion years old. The popular cave tours at Sterkfontein commence above ground before taking visitors deep underground into the caves, and run sev­en days a week.

For bookings, phone +27 (0)14 577 9000 or email info@maropeng.co.za.

(Image: bazgado_uncut)

Ama Zwing Zwing Zipline Tours:

The Ama Zwing Zwing zipline tour is perfect for those seeking to pump some adrenaline out of and around their system. The tour is made up of seven slides and 10 platforms, ranging from two metres to 14m in height. This high-octane adventure is suitable for anyone between the ages of seven and 75 years.

One of the major highlights of the zipline tour is enjoying refreshments at the highest platform while taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding Magaliesberg area.

For bookings, phone +27 (0)82 803 773.

(Image: jeslin25)

Places to stay

The Cradle of Humankind boasts a number of accommodation options for those visiting this World Heritage Site.

Lanseria Country Estate:

Lanseria Country Estate, at the edge of the Cradle of Humankind, offers the perfect getaway for people looking for a quiet area away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Their accommodation options range from deluxe and standard rooms to family units as well as self-catering units.

Guests can also enjoy good food and beverages at the @ThePlace2B restaurant on the estate. There is a selection of wines to choose from as well as locally brewed craft beer. Lanseria Country Estate also has conference facilities and can be booked as a wedding venue.

For bookings, phone +27 (0)83 446 7663 or email Theplace2b@lanseriacountryestate.co.za

(Image: anseria_country_estate)

Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge:

Located right in the heart of Cradle of Humankind, the Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge is made up of 50 two-bedroomed thatched bungalows. Each bungalow has a tea and coffee station, heaters and a veranda that visitors can use while they enjoy watching the sunsets and viewing game.

There are various activities to partake in at the game lodge, including boat cruises on the 22ha lake and game drives with an experienced ranger covering the Zwartkop and Driefontein farms. Wi-Fi is available at the game lodge, with television available in the TV lounge only.

For bookings, phone +27 (0)11 919 5000 or email reservations@cradlemoon.co.za

(Image: nutri_ash)

Valley Lodge & Spa:

The Valley Lodge & Spa is a one-hour drive from Pretoria and Johannesburg and is located on the stunning banks of the Magalies River. It is the perfect place for a relaxed getaway and some body pampering.

This multi-award-winning four-star hotel has elegant and well-appointed rooms, a spa, conference facilities, a restaurant and a wedding venue. There is something for all types of guests at the Valley Lodge and Spa, which makes it an ideal retreat in the heart of nature.

For bookings, phone +27 (0)14 577 1301 or email info@valleylodge.co.za.

(Image: tamara_speaks_frank)