Maropeng a’Afrika and the Cradle of Humankind

The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and Dinokeng are initiatives of the Gauteng Provincial Government to establish geo-spatial tourism destinations in the north-west and the north-east of the province, close to the densely populated metropolitan areas of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni.

The Gauteng Provincial Government – through Blue IQ, its strategic economic investment programme – has invested over R250 million in roads and bulk infrastructure in the two destinations in order to boost tourism development.

There are 663 tourism attractions in the two destinations (a remarkable growth since 2003 when there were only 163 tourism establishments).

The projects promote economic growth and social upliftment, relieving the burden of poverty, particularly for historically-disadvantaged communities living in and around the two destinations.

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The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site

The Cradle of Humankind is one of eight 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 which our species has taken to make us what we are – a place of pilgrimage for all humankind. It 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 which have been identified within the area. These have already been internationally-recognised in the World Heritage Site listing, and have now 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 site is to be preserved and sustainably utilised.

The world-renowned Sterkfontein Caves is home to the oldest and most continuous paleaontological 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 2.3 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 now enjoys ensures that what is deep within its core will be protected and explored forever.

An amount of R189 million has been invested in roads and bulk infrastructure to develop the site and leverage in private sector investment in tourism development.

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 world-class visitor exhibition and recreational facilities showcasing the site. This Public Private Partnership is the first of its kind, a concession agreement requiring Maropeng a’Afrika Leisure (Pty) Ltd to pay an annual concession fee which government will invest in community benefit projects and in scientific research.

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

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

Seventy Conference venues and 44 wedding and event venues can accommodate 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.


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