On our last full day in Johannesburg we wanted to see the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, which consists of Sterkfontein cave system and a museum called Maropeng. Cradle of Humankind itself is a name for a large-ish area where a lot of fossils were found. Among them Mrs. Ples, which is the most complete skull of an Australopithecus africanus ever found in South Africa and Little Foot, which is the nickname given to a nearly complete Australopithecus fossil skeleton found in Sterkfontein.
As you might have noticed from these posts, getting around in Johannesburg is not easy unless you have a car. Cradle of Humankind was also located quite far away (1.5h drive from Johannesburg) , so we booked a half-day tour with MoAfrika Tours. This was our least favorite tour company during our entire trip for the following reasons:
- They were really expensive for what you got (R1100 per person, so approx. 78€).
- What you got was basically a driver, who drove you from hotel to Sterkfontein Caves, then to Maropeng and then back to the hotel. He provided virtually no comments on anything and we got a separate guide in Sterkfontein Caves and no guide in Maropeng. Yes, the caves are kind of far away, but this is too much for a ride.
- His driving was atrocious and we were really concerned about our safety. He even got stopped and fined by the police on the way back!
But anyway, our first stop was at Sterkfontein caves and they were pretty cool! There was a small museum before the entrance, where they told you a bit about Cradle of Humankind.
After that you got a hair net and a hard hat and were allowed to follow a guide into the cave system. There were warnings that some of the parts in the cave require squatting or crawling and I was concerned at first, but our group had people of very different ages and sizes and in the end it wasn’t difficult, but did require “duck walking” in a couple of places. We had this one lady in our group, who was afraid of tight places and caves in general, so her husband needed to guide her through some places. I have no idea why she went into the cave, but she survived the experience even though she did moan about it while in the cave. It is useful to either have a flashlight with you or a flashlight app on your phone. It is quite dark in the cave and only the guide has a flashlight, which is not enough as the cave floor isn’t all that even.
The tour took about an hour and we enjoyed it a lot. After the tour, we found our driver and he drove us to Maropeng, which turned out to be a science/history/anthropology museum of sorts. At first there was a boat ride through elements and after that we ended up in the museum.
The museum itself was ok. If I would get to decide again, I would’ve skipped it. It had some interesting stuff, but overall not really worth it.
After that we headed back to Johannesburg and for 1.5h or accelerating and fast braking and then fast accelerating, we were feeling kind of motion sick. On top of that the car was really hot as it was a warm day and it didn’t have any air conditioning.
We asked the driver to drop us off again at The Firs, where we went for very early dinner to a Japanese restaurant called Koi. The restaurant was recommended by our hotel and the food was indeed very good.
After that we walked back to our hotel and focused on packing, writing post cards to friends and family and relaxing. We had a very long flight ahead of us the next day.