Just 45 minutes from Joburg is the Cradle of Humankind. It’s a World Heritage Site and is where some of the oldest human remains in the world have been found. It is regarded as the birthplace of humankind for this very reason
Maropeng Visitor Centre lives here, and is where we ended up on a sunny afternoon last week
I have heard mixed reviews about this place, which is an information hub about the evolution of humankind. A friend recently went and didn’t enjoy it at all, but we thought that we would check it out for ourselves
We had a gorgeous drive from Joburg – it’s picturesque compared to the city, with rolling fields and the Magliesberg mountains in the distance. The sun was blazing. Perfect
The visitor centre is built to look like a hill, with grass growing up and over. It reminded me of a Hobbit’s house. First stop, the restaurant on the top deck – Tumulus – to give ourselves the energy we would need for the day ahead
and because I eat constantly
Tumulus boasts that it has the best view in Gauteng. It is beautiful, but not as breathtaking as some. Our waitress was lovely, but the food took 45 minutes to arrive and was mediocre. I would rather have eaten at Roots after hearing great things about the place, but we had left it too late in the day
After our lunch we headed down into the basement, which is where the exhibit is housed. First up, you hop onto an underground river ride that depicts the various stages of the creation of the earth, using ice, wind, fire, smoke and of course water. We really loved this little tunnel ride. We felt like kids again!
At the end, off you pop and you enter the visitor centre exhibit. I think it is fantastic! Well laid out with lots of room between each station. It’s interactive and fun – not at all droning and boring like some information centres and museums are. We basically learnt about extinction and evolution and the rise of humanity as we know it. It was fab. At almost 30 years of age I found it really interesting, and it is cool enough for kids to appreciate it too. There is actually a jungle gym outside that you can wear your kids out on if they are usually too hyper for museum visits!
I learnt more than I thought I would (you expect to know much more at my age!), and I found it really interesting to learn about the differences between the different hominids, such as neanderthals and homo-erectus
The Visitor Centre is very professionally done, and I was surprised as I didn’t expect that much from the place – maybe as I had listened to my friend who didn’t think much of it (she had a young child with her at the time so found it more difficult than we did). It’s very modern and this helps to keep you engaged. It’s just big enough to make it worth the drive out there, but small enough that there isn’t information overload and you enjoy your time there, rather than it becoming a chore
We bought a combined ticket to also visit Sterkfontein Caves (more on that later) and for entrance to both it cost us R200 each
I’m definitely going to recommend this attraction to any one that visits us – you are so close to Jozi yet you feel a world away, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Definitely get to Sterkfontein Caves too – the whole thing took us from 13.00 to 17.30, including an hour of lunch. We just got to Sterkfontein in time for the last tour