28 Oct 2014 | By Sun International

Everyone Is South African: the Cradle of Humankind

It might be hard to believe (but then again, South Africa seems to specialise in all things marvellously unbelievable) that only 50 kilometres away from the 24/7 buzz of Johannesburg you will find the birthplace of humanity. That's right, the country that occupies the very tip of Africa is home to 40% of the world's human ancestor fossils!

The only World Heritage Site in Gauteng, and one of only eight World Heritage Sites in South Africa, the Cradle of Humankind is at the very top of the long list of things to do in Johannesburg. The world's richest hominin site, the Cradle of Humankind is 47 000 hectares of unadulterated wonder. Not only rich with wonder beneath the soil, the site is also home to rare and endangered birds, plants and animals.

The site of the Cradle of Humankind has produced some of the oldest hominin fossils ever discovered, with some dating back as far as 3.5 million years – now that's unbelievable! The site also contains a complex of limestone caves notably including the world-famous Sterkfontein Caves, the site of discovery of the record-breaking pre-human skull affectionately known as "Mrs Ples" and her equally impressive friend, an almost complete hominid skeleton known as "Little Foot". Dating back 2.3 million and 4.17 million years respectively, Mrs Ples and Little Foot are full of secrets if you only listen carefully… However, it will have to be between 9am and 5pm because that's the opening times!

Beginning in 1966, the Sterkfontein Caves are the site of the longest continuously running fossil excavations in the world. With so much to discover at the Cradle of Humankind, visitors to the City of Gold will be pleased to know that the Cradle of Humankind is only one of many of exciting and interesting things to do in Johannesburg. However, when it comes to places to stay in Johannesburg, there is only really one place to stay if you want to make the most of your trip – The Maslow.

Maropeng is the official visitors' centre of the Cradle of Humankind. Translated from Setswana to mean "returning to the place of origin" Maropeng certainly lives up to its name!

Top tip: Purchase your admissions tickets to Maropeng and/or the Sterkfontein Caves online and you will receive 10% off! Click here for booking.