This past weekend, Jon and I took the one-hour drive to the Cradle of Humankind (CoH) for a nice sojourn into history. It’s a paleoanthropological site that covers the area of roughly 180 square miles, housing the finding places of some of the Earth’s oldest fossils. (3.5 million years, to be exact.) As such, it was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). And it truly is quite a place…
We started our visit at Maropeng, the official visitor center for the CoH. We went through the amazing exhibits that highlighted the evolution of man, the history of life, the ways the world has changed, etc. There is also an underground boat ride that sort-of makes you feel like you’re at Disney World… until you hit your head on the side of the rock wall because it’s Africa and there was no ‘keep your head low’ warning that would be standard in the U.S. 🙂 (It didn’t hurt too much. Though I’m still seeing spots – that’s ok, right??) It’s a beautifully-constructed, unique museum and we added it to the list of places we’ll suggest to visitors.
We then went to an awesome brewery called Black Horse where we sat outside, had a beer flight of all of their brews, ate yummy food and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. This place doubles as a wedding venue and it almost made me wish I’d waited to get married because it was so lovely. We finished the day off by going to our lodge, me getting a massage, Jon going on a nature walk and then going to the best meal we’ve had yet in Africa at the Roots Restaurant. It was a gourmet, six-course dinner with wine pairings selected by their sommelier that would have cost three or four times as much in the U.S. Just delightful. (Plus, they had three different dessert courses and that’s a win in my book.)
The next morning, we ventured to the Sterkfontein Caves, where we were given helmets (could’ve used that the day before) and went on a tour with the wonderful Kenneth. He took us 60 meters underground and took us through the vast cave where so many of the fossils highlighted in Maropeng were discovered. He showed us where Little Foot, an almost-complete Australopithecus skeleton was found in 1994, a site that is blocked off because it’s still being actively excavated. There was some spelunking involved, with scooting on our tushes and climbing, and I loved every second of it. Outside of the caves was a huge excavation site where we could see the tireless work being done. It was super cool and we were so happy to have seen this important part of the world, so close to where we live!
(On our way back home, we went to an America-inspired diner called Mustang Sally’s that is too juicy of a story to tack on here so Jon will write about it in a future post…)
– By Naama