Challenge shines spotlight on Cradle of Humankind

  • July 31, 2017 | Nosimilo Ramela

The finalists in Maropeng’s Africa is Home competition were treated to a full-day, all-expenses-paid experience at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site on Sunday 23 July – and the winner, to be announced in the coming week, will walk away with a grand prize consisting of various leisure and tourism spoils.

Contestants arriving for the challenge.

The official visitor centre of the Cradle of Humankind, Maropeng had called on creatives, photographers and bloggers to shoot 60-second videos of themselves, sharing why Africa is home to them. They then had to post these on their social media channels and tag the Maropeng – Cradle of Humankind Facebook page, using the hashtag #AfricaisHome.

Three finalists were chosen and invited to participate in the final leg of the challenge. The contestants were taken on a day of adventure, with the brief to share their experiences on their social media platforms. The person with the most traction would be crowned the winner and walk away with the grand prize.

Attendees included local celebrities such as songstress Kelly Khumalo, actress Sophie Ndaba, Big Brother Mzansi star Lerato Sengadi, Feather Awards co-founder Thami Kotlolo and DJ Dino Bravo, who all participated in sharing their adventure in the Cradle of Humankind with their fans.

Kelly Khumalo soaking up the Africa sun.

To ease into the challenge, the contestants started the day with breakfast on the Tumulus Restaurant deck at the Maropeng Boutique Hotel. “The view is amazing and the background is gorgeous. It’s a sunny day and we’re excited to experience this great treasure,” said contestant Koketso Tshoga.

From here, the finalists were driven to Sterkfontein Heritage Lodge by Tshuku’s Transport, allowing them to take full advantage of the luxury experience without having to navigate. The lodge is situated at the top of King’s Kloof, overlooking the Cradle of Humankind. Here, the contestants went ziplining with SuperTouch Events. For some, it was the first time, but they soon discovered their inner daredevils. “I’ve never done anything like this before, so I’m breaking out of my comfort zone today,” said lifestyle blogger Neeta Raga-Dullabh.

Self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie Khumalo said ziplining was one of her highlights for the day. “It was really good; I could do it 50 times over.”

Sengadi shared her sentiments: “It was actually fun. Once I got over the initial fear and looked around, it was amazing – so beautiful, a must-do.”

Janine Muthusamy, general manager of sales and marketing for Maropeng, said the aim of the challenge was to showcase all the amazing experiences visitors can enjoy at the Cradle of Humankind. “As Maropeng, we’re thrilled to serve as the gateway to the Cradle of Humankind and its numerous tourism offerings.”

Muthusamy said the challenge provided a snapshot of the sights and activities at Gauteng’s only World Heritage Site. It was important for contestants to have a personal experience, so they could gain insight into what the attraction had to offer. “This destination is a gem with incredible views and great sunsets.”

Following the ziplining, the contestants settled down for lunch and beer-brewing and gin-tasting briefings at the Black Horse Brewery.

“I’m not a beer drinker, but I really enjoyed the pink beer; it was smooth and tasted sweeter than I expected,” said contestant Sigcobile Bopi.

“The views from the restaurant are spectacular – I’ve taken some amazing shots,” said Ziyaad Plaatjes, founder of the iloveza.com website. “It’s a great opportunity to be here and to have access to these great scenes.”

The contestants spent the afternoon at the Maropeng Boutique Hotel, watching the sunset from the poolside while enjoying sundowners. “The sunset is absolutely stunning – it’s like the backdrop of a movie. Africa is beautiful and Maropeng has such a brilliant view – the perfect spot to celebrate our common humanity, ” said Kotlolo.

To kick off the evening’s activities, the special guests were treated to a guided viewing of the Almost Human exhibition, showcasing the Homo naledi discoveries. Maropeng Curator Lindsay Marshall conducted the tour.

Lerato Sengadi at the Homo naledi exhibition.

She quoted the late Professor Phillip Tobias, an esteemed palaeoanthropologist who was the head of research at Sterkfontein Caves and famously said: “Africa gave the world humanity and that is no small thing.” Africa gave the world the story of humanity and that is something we can be incredibly proud of, said Marshall.

Maropeng managing director Michael Worsnip welcomed the contestants to storytelling around the fire with Bongi Kotta at Hominin House. Worsnip said the Cradle of Humankind is a great place to reflect on what connects all humanity.

Ndaba encouraged the contestants to see Maropeng as a second home. “When I need a break from the busy world and some time to reflect and centre myself, I come here. This place is my solace and my home,” she said.

After some great interactive storytelling in high spirits, the guests enjoyed an authentic African spit braai for dinner.

Reflecting on the experience, Tshoga said she didn’t realise just how much the Cradle of Humankind has to offer. “I’ve heard of Maropeng before, but I didn’t know there was so much to see and experience in the Cradle of Humankind. It was truly eye-opening.”

Muthusamy was delighted with the outcome of the challenge. “I believe we succeeded in what we set out to do. The contestants took full advantage of the experience,” she said, noting that the Cradle of Humankind even trended at number one on Twitter ahead of the MTN/702 Walk.

The winner of the R30 000 grand prize will be announced in the coming week. It will comprise a luxury weekend stay for two at Askari Game Lodge & Spa and the Maropeng Boutique Hotel; a safari drive; combined tour experiences; luxury spa treatments from Just Haven Spa; beverage hampers from the Black Horse Brewery and Groot Constantia estate; and a luxurious evening of wining and dining at the Carnivore Restaurant at the Misty Hills Country Hotel in Muldersdrift.

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