• March 01, 2012

Maropeng is the official visitor’s centre for the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and whether guests are looking for a get-away to relax and enjoy the fresh air, or an exhilarating adventure back into pre-historic times, it is the ideal destination for all. Just a short 45 minute drive from either Johannesburg or Pretoria, it offers fun, interactive and educational events on a monthly basis.

March 3: Cooper’s Cave picnic and walking tour

How would you like to explore a living museum, where the fossils embedded in the rock describe the world as it was between 1.4- and 1.8-million years ago?

Maropeng and palaeobiologist Dr Christine Steininger are offering budding palaeontologists the rare opportunity to explore the 1.5-million-year-old Cooper’s Cave. Located near the famous Sterkfontein Caves, Cooper’s Cave has yielded numerous fossils of previously unidentified animals, and a rich assembly of stone tools.

The day’s activities include an interactive fossil and site talk, exploring a cave, a chance to look for fossils in recently excavated deposits, and learning how to make stone tools.

You’ll never know what you’ll find at Cooper’s

Cooper’s Cave is one of the most diverse and abundant fossil sites in the Cradle of Humankind. “You can walk through the site and see literally hundreds of fossils in the rocks around you,” says Steininger. It’s an incredible experience.”

Fossils of the extinct hominid Paranthropus robustus have been found at Cooper’s and the site is also known to be home to fossils of predators.

Large carnivore species, such as sabre-toothed cats, hyenas and a new species of large dog have also been found there, alongside evidence that they all co-existed.

One of the largest primates recorded at Cooper’s is believed to weigh 67kg, which is bigger than other hominids that existed in the Cradle. This raises the question, which primate was more dominant, the bipedal hominid or the large quadrupedal baboon?

A fun family day out in the Cradle of Humankind

This is a must for adults and children with an interest in palaeontology and archaeology. Remember to pack a jersey, torch, hat, apply sunscreen and wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes – and bring your camera! The tour will start at 09h00 at Sterkfontein Caves and includes a light picnic lunch.

As Christine tells her guests, “If you didn’t spot a fossil, there is something wrong with your eyes, there are literally hundreds of fossils visible on the surface.”

Please note this tour will only go ahead if there is a minimum of ten people

Guests are able to combine the event with an overnight stay at the luxurious Maropeng Boutique Hotel for a special rate.  

March 10: Bone Detectives: Transformations in body and mind

The story you will follow here is one that started seven million years ago. It’s the story of hominid evolution, an ancient path that culminates in defining what it is that makes us human.

Is it our large brain or our ability to walk upright? And what evolutionary trail have we followed to be able to emerge as Homo Sapiens?

Up-and-coming scientist Brendon Billings takes you on a tour to discover the fascinating answers buried in fossils, once hidden but now unlocked by scientists. Examine the brains and bodies of different animals, and an exhibition of casts of fossil discoveries made at the Cradle of Humankind. Learn about the development of hominids, and the language and culture that came with it.

After the bones tour, explore Sterkfontein Caves with experienced and award winning tour guide Reuben Tsime, for a deeper understanding of cave formation and the importance of freeing the secrets inside fossils found in the area.

Enjoy a fantastic picnic buffet lunch overlooking the beautiful Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, which provides a poignant reminder of the landscape on which the human evolutionary story began and continues to play out.

This tour is ideally suited for anyone with a passion for science, or those who are fascinated by the human brain and body, and the evolutionary history of our species.

Please note this tour will only take place if there is a minimum of seven people.

Guests are able to combine the event with an overnight stay at the luxurious Maropeng Boutique Hotel for a special rate.  

March 17: Swartkrans picnic and walking tour

Swartkrans, one of the Cradle’s richest fossil sites, is usually closed to the public. But on these tours, small groups will have a rare opportunity to observe an active palaeontological dig and will be guided around the site by scientist Morris Sutton, who is currently excavating there.

Swartkrans has yielded the largest sample of Paranthropus robustus, and it is also significant for the discovery of the earliest evidence of the use of controlled fire in Southern Africa, dating back 1-million years.

Please note the tour does include a light picnic lunch but is strictly for adults only. This tour will only go ahead if there are a minimum of seven people booked.
Guests are able to combine the event with an overnight stay at the luxurious Maropeng Boutique Hotel for a special rate

March 24: Stargazing – Our deep southern skies

Did you know that two-thirds of all the stars we can see from Earth are concentrated in the southern region of the sky? 

On a perfect moonless evening, large telescopes reveal the delicate structures of far away objects such as the sparkling stars in the colourful Jewel Box cluster. Join Maropeng’s resident astronomer Vincent Nettmann for a thrilling evening exploring the stars.

The evening begins at 18h00 with welcome drinks and dinner at the Maropeng Boutique Hotel where you can enjoy breathtaking views over the Cradle of Humankind as the sun sets.

Guests can enjoy a three-course dinner which will then be followed by an illustrated talk on the stars. Remember to bring binoculars so you can participate in this laser-guided sky tour. Subject to weather conditions, you will be able to observe the summer sky objects and the moon through a range of large aperture telescopes.

For more information on costs, bookings and essential requirements, email or call us on (014) 577 9000 or visit and click on shop to make a booking.


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