With­in the Sterk­fontein Caves, sci­en­tists have dis­cov­ered many hominid and oth­er ani­mal fos­sils, dat­ing back more than 4-mil­lion years, to the birth of human­i­ty. The most impor­tant and most famous of these fos­sils are Mrs Ples”, a 2.1-million-year-old Aus­tralo­p­ithe­cus skull, and Lit­tle Foot”, an almost com­plete Aus­tralo­p­ithe­cus skele­ton that is more than 3-mil­lion years old. These fos­sils, both found in the Sterk­fontein Caves in the Cra­dle of Humankind, tell us much about the pre­cur­sors of mod­ern humans, Homo sapiens.


Archae­o­log­i­cal finds with­in the Cra­dle of Humankind also include 2-mil­lion-year-old stone tools. The old­est record­ed, at Swartkrans, near the Sterk­fontein Caves, is a col­lec­tion of 270 burnt bones that reveals how our ances­tors learned to mas­ter fire more than 1-mil­lion years ago – a sig­nif­i­cant devel­op­ment and an ear­ly tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion. The abil­i­ty to do this has tak­en us from the basic skills need­ed to keep our­selves warm and to cook our food, to being able to con­trol and har­ness the pow­er of fire to the extent that we can now cre­ate and burn rock­et fuel to reach space and beyond.


Impor­tant: Please wear com­fort­able shoes when going to the caves and leave your hand­bags and oth­er lug­gage behind. There are a num­ber of tight spots and path­ways to nego­ti­ate in the caves and it is not advis­able to do the tour if you are claus­tro­pho­bic. It is also not advis­able for peo­ple who suf­fer from acute asth­ma or chest prob­lems to do the tour as there are a lot of stairs.