Sterkfontein Caves in the Cradle of Humankind

After our trip to the Maropeng Visitor Centre, we zoomed off around the corner to the Sterkfontein Caves.  I was super excited to be going in a cave.  Ever since I used to watch Fraggle Rock as a kid I have wanted to live hang out in one.  For some reason though, I just never have

We rocked up for the last tour and surprise, surprise we were the only 3 on it!  It really felt like our own private tour.  We were lucky enough to have Norman as our host with the most.  I really do tend to luck out and get the best tour guide ever whenever I go on an adventure.  This time was no different

Norman took us on the short walk to the cave entrance.  There is an information centre and some educational stone exhibits on the way there, echoing what the Maropeng Visitor Centre showed us earlier that day, so we didn’t stop to read much.  Norman waited until we were in the shade and took some time to reiterate what we had learnt, including some info that we had not, and summed it all up for us in an easy to understand way.  It was good to have someone do that, as often you read something in a museum and it goes straight out the other ear.  This helped us to absorb everything that we had learnt about human evolution and the fossils that had been found in the area, and are still being excavated todayIt was then time to descend into the cave.  At the start there was a warning saying that at some points there were some very narrow or low entrances where we would have to squat or crawl, and it set out a list of health issues that should we suffer from then we should avoid the caves.  Luckily we all have a clean bill of health right now, so down the steps we went

Even the entrance to the cave was low, so we bent down and all of a sudden we were inside this long walkway of steps, with the highest “ceiling”.  The air was so cool, and a welcome difference to the blistering heat outside.  I felt a strange flood of calm and excitement.  It’s really quite peaceful down there, especially with just the 4 of us

We walked on a bit, with Norman entertaining and educating us.  He has only worked there for 3 months, but he was great and has obviously had very good training.  We were impressed.  It got darker and darker, and although artificially lit, the caves are huge, so Norman had his trusty torch to show us the way and highlight interesting rock formations.  Rob loved this one that looked like an elephant – can you make out the ears and the trunk?When it got really dark, Norman showed us that he could make a crocodile shadow puppet, and then we spent the next 5 minutes with Rob teaching him to make a dog, and Rob’s mum teaching him a butterfly.  We had so much fun, and Norman seemed very excited that he had learnt some new animals for his next tour groups.  They get a lot of school kids on the tours, and this kind of entertainment is perfect for them.  He assured us he was going to practice and perfect it.  Rob then threw a rabbit in there for good measureWe walked around, under the close supervision of Norman, and I was in utter awe at the magnificence of these caves.  They really are sprawling, and it was a good workout walking around.  There is rubber matting down so that you won’t slip on the wet rock, and at some points there are man made stairways and railings to hold onto.  We loved every minute

There were some tight spots to manoeuver, and we all managed just fine.  I can see why they advised us to wear comfortable walking shoes, and would actually suggest that you ensure that you wear trainers with a good tread for a good grip.  I wore Toms and thought that they would be fine, but actually they have no grip and were a bit slippery at times

Norman struck just the right balance between educational, informative and fun.  The mastermind behind Maropeng definitely knows their stuff and chooses the right staff and crafted the right training programme.  We loved both places – the caves and the visitor centreIf you want to go to the caves you don’t need to go to the visitor centre, but it is worth it and you save money if you buy a combined ticket – R200 for both or R130 for just the caves.  I would say go to Maropeng visitor centre first and finish off with the caves.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!  I really hope that you get Norman as your tour guide.  He is what made our tour so special I think.  And yes.  That is chocolate on my vest, that I dropped whilst eating a Magnum just before the tour…

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2 thoughts on “Sterkfontein Caves in the Cradle of Humankind

  1. Great post martina! I remember our own trip way back when and my pictures were absolutely awful, as it was before I actually learned how to use my camera. Yours are stunning!

    And I feel SO great actually being able to comment again, and read these kinds of things – my internet was down for a whole week and I’m frantically doing all the online activity I can think of before it goes out again, as it did the first time they “fixed” it…

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