The Cra­dle of Humankind
World Her­itage Site

The Cra­dle of Humankind is one of 10 World Her­itage Sites in South Africa, and the only one in Gaut­eng. It is wide­ly recog­nised as the place from which all of humankind originated.

The 47 000-hectare site has unearthed the best evi­dence of the com­plex jour­ney that our species has tak­en to make us what we are – and is there­fore a place of pil­grim­age for all humankind. The area is not only a place of ongo­ing sci­en­tif­ic dis­cov­ery into our ori­gins, but also a place of con­tem­pla­tion – a place that allows us to reflect on who we are, where we come from and where we are going to.

The Gaut­eng Provin­cial Gov­ern­ment is the des­ig­nat­ed man­age­ment author­i­ty respon­si­ble for devel­op­ing and pro­tect­ing this extra­or­di­nary site for pos­ter­i­ty. There are 13 exca­vat­ed sites that have been iden­ti­fied with­in the Cra­dle of Humankind area. These have already been inter­na­tion­al­ly recog­nised in the World Her­itage Site list­ing, and have now also indi­vid­u­al­ly been declared as nation­al her­itage sites by the South African Her­itage Resources Agency (SAHRA). The care­ful man­age­ment of these unique sites is a clear pri­or­i­ty if the Cra­dle area is to be pre­served and used sustainably.

The world-renowned Sterk­fontein Caves site is home to the old­est and most con­tin­u­ous palaeon­to­log­i­cal dig in the world. It is also the site of dis­cov­ery of the famous pre-human skull affec­tion­ate­ly known as Mrs Ples”, and an almost com­plete hominid skele­ton called Lit­tle Foot”, dat­ed at 2.3-million and 4.17-million years old respec­tive­ly. No one knows what still lies hid­den in the rocks of the Sterk­fontein Caves and oth­er sites. The World Her­itage Site sta­tus the area enjoys ensures that what lies deep with­in its core will be pro­tect­ed for­ev­er, and explored responsibly.

An amount of R189-mil­lion was invest­ed in roads and bulk infra­struc­ture to devel­op the site and bring in pri­vate-sec­tor invest­ment to devel­op tourism in the area.

In Octo­ber 2003, the Gaut­eng Provin­cial Gov­ern­ment entered into a con­tract val­ued at R163-mil­lion with Maropeng a’Afrika Leisure (Pty) Ltd for the con­struc­tion, design and oper­a­tion of a world-class vis­i­tor exhi­bi­tion cen­tre and recre­ation­al facil­i­ties show­cas­ing the site. This pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship was a ground­break­ing one, requir­ing Maropeng a’Afrika Leisure to pay an annu­al con­ces­sion fee for the gov­ern­ment to invest in com­mu­ni­ty ben­e­fit projects and in sci­en­tif­ic research.

The Cra­dle of Humankind World Her­itage Site has since become a major inter­na­tion­al tourism des­ti­na­tion, with about 387 tourism attrac­tions, includ­ing 91 grad­ed establishments.

There are 175 places to stay and 113 restau­rants in and around the area to choose from.

In addi­tion, the 70 con­fer­ence venues and 44 wed­ding and event venues can accom­mo­date groups rang­ing from 20 to 800 guests.

The attrac­tions direct­ly employ an esti­mat­ed 7 000 per­ma­nent and 2 200 casu­al employees.


Over the years, Maropeng has received numer­ous awards from the tourism indus­try. Read more about Maropeng’s awards.


Maropeng is proud to be asso­ci­at­ed with the fol­low­ing institutions:

Fedhasa New Logo 1
Saaci Logo 1
Satsa 1
Mp 2008   Heritage Logo 1
Mp 2008   Final Touch Africa Logo2 1
Bee Certificate 2015
415.25 KiB