Maropeng Heritage Site: South Africa's Cradle of Mankind

Maropeng Heritage Site
Maropeng Heritage Site

Maropeng Heritage Site Offers The History of Humans to Visitors

By Jackie Cohen

Gauteng, a northern province in South Africa, is defined by the nation's largest cities, Pretoria and Johannesburg.

The entrance of the Maropeng Heritage Site.
The entrance of the Maropeng Heritage Site.

Pretoria is one of the nation's capitals, and Johannesburg is home to many historic sites relating to the country’s 20th-century struggle to end segregation, including the Apartheid Museum.

The Gauteng province is a multi-cultural melting pot of South Africa, offering a world class-city lifestyle experience and a wide variety of tastes, ranging from festivals, nightlife, gaming, shopping, restaurants and a variety of markets.

Take your family to a theme park, or roam outside to enjoy the natural history of Pretoria.

Exploring Humankind

As Gauteng's only heritage site, the Maropeng Heritage Site, is a tourist hub for those interested in the roots of humankind.

Also known as the Cradle of Humankind, the site holds stories of history and origins of human beings.

Explore the 2500 meters of interactive exhibits, complete with an underground boat ride through a vortex of history. With a combination of unique audio and visual technologies, Maropeng is an exciting experience for adults and children alike.

Almost Human Exhibition

The Almost Human Exhibition incorporates natural sensations of Earth, air, fire, and water. The exhibit intertwines an experiential laboratory with educational lessons.

With a collection of ancient fossils, the roots of humankind are displayed for visitors to explore. The vortex tunnel uncovers the big bang theory and continental drift.

Enter the time machine and travel back in time 4.6 million years to uncover the roots of humanity and progress of evolution.

What it means to be Human

The Maropeng Heritage Site's interactive exhibits reveal humankind's unique set of characteristics that separate us from other species on planet Earth. Modern humanity is described and specifically categorized throughout the final portion of the exhibition, clearing up confusion and questions guests may have encountered throughout the beginning part of their exploration of the exhibit.

World Famous Fossils

After your visit to the exhibits of the Heritage site, enjoy a light meal at the Market Place Café at the Tumulus restaurant and enjoy the breathtaking view.

Stop by the Sterkfontein Caves after your visit to the exhibition to explore the dramatic discoveries that have changed the way people have interpreted the roots of their past.

Visitors are introduced to world-famous fossils like Mrs. Ples, a 2.1 million-year-old Australopithecus skull and Little Foot, part of a near reconstructed skeleton dating back three million years.

Enjoy the sunset from the deck of the Maropeng Hotel.
The sunset from the deck of the Maropeng Boutique Hotel.

A Self-Guided Tour

Depending on your level of interest and determination, this self-guided tour can take guests anywhere from one to seven hours to fully explore. The highly interactive elements engage and keep visitors of all ages entertained and engaged during their visit.

Guided tours are generally available during weekend and holiday hours at no additional cost to visitors. Upon arrival to the exhibits, inquire within the ticket kiosk when the next guided tour will begin, as they generally leave the meeting place frequently during open hours.

After your visit back in time at the Maropeng Heritage Site, check into the Maropeng Boutique Hotel. After you are settled in, spend the evening stargazing with resident astronomer Vincent Nettmann.

The four-star Maropeng Boutique Hotel offers a truly luxurious getaway to guests of the heritage site. Indulge in a special meal prepared by their resident chefs, with superb fine dining creations and gastronomic delights.

Liz H, of Canada, gave her stay a five-star review, "We chose the Maropeng Boutique Hotel because of its location close to the Museum of Humankind which my granddaughter ( an archaeologist) wanted to visit. The hotel was lovely - comfortable, quiet rooms, wonderful food, pleasant and helpful staff and a beautiful setting."

The accommodation has a Certificate of Excellence from Trip Advisor.

A variety of spa treatments are available to guests with on-site wellness and beauty services, customizable to whatever needs you may have.

Tumulus Restaurant

For a more casual dining experience, the Tumulus Restaurant offers a grand variety of options at their Sunday buffet or daily luncheons. Reserve a table on their delightful deck with breathtaking views overlooking the Magaliesburg and Witwaterburg Mountain ranges, your eyes will be as pleased as your appetite.

Koen, a visitor to the restaurant from Brugges, Belgium, had a unique experience at the restaurant. "Nice restaurant, in terms of interior and in terms of service. There is the opportunity to eat a la carte but most of the guests eat one of the predefined menus, that offers no choice options, however.

"The wine list offers a wide choice starting at very acceptable prices. The chef seems to prefer special combinations. Some are really good (the guinea fowl with a sauce based on cacao and a crumble based on orange), some are not so good in my opinion (tuna with pineapple). Weird was also that the texture of my dessert was different than my wife's although it was the same (mine had a dry cake, hers a cake soaked in some juice). But all in all, a nice dinner."

If you are in the market for unique combinations and exotic flavors, the Tumulus Restaurant is a conveniently located option during your visit to the Heritage Site.

Conveniently located on the first floor of the Maropeng Visitor Center, the views are the best in all of Gauteng. At sunset, enjoy a drink overlooking the vista, and you may just see wildlife roaming in the distance. Open seven days a week, the Tumulus restaurant is always ready for your visit regardless of what day you get to the Heritage Site.

Booking a table in advance is essential, as volumes of guests are generally quite high and reservations are highly sought after. A 10% gratuity for your server is recommended. All restaurant staff are locals from the surrounding communities of the heritage site.

Another option for lunching during your visit to Maropeng is the Market Place restaurant. This casual eatery is located in the marketplace as you approach the Maropeng Visitor Center. Offering a large variety of dishes, this piazza-like setting offers diners light bites before they continue their visit to the surrounding shops and exhibits.

Highlight your next visit to the province of Gauteng with a trip to the Maropeng Heritage Site, learning about humankind's tumultuous past.

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Jackie Cohen

Jackie Cohen

Jackie Cohen is an avid globetrotter, in constant search for new obscure destinations and adventures. With a special interest in sustainable tourism practices, she's traveled around the world to North and East Africa, the Middle East, the Americas, Southeast Asia, and across Europe-always looking for local cuisine, hidden surprises, and lessons in different cultures. She's from Beverly, MA.