Kromdraai, Magaliesberg

Kromdraai falls within the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, proclaimed such by UNESCO in 1998. It’s one of the most famous valleys in the world filled with palaeontological sites rendering ancient relics of mankind that are millions of years old.

Other famous caves and sites include the Wonder Cave, Sterkfontein, Swartkrans (previously closed to the public) and the surrounding area. Most of the hominid remains are found in dolomitic caves, similar to Kromdraai, encased in a mixture of limestone and breccia, providing perfect conditions for fossilisation over time. A delightful word derived from Afrikaans meaning ‘crooked turn’, Kromdraai is both a protected conservancy, not far from Krugersdorp and Johannesburg, and also refers to one particular fossil-bearing cave, just 2 kilometres east of Sterkfontein.

Well over 500 hominid fossils, thousands of animal fossils, some 9000 stone tools and over 300 fragments of fossil wood have been found across the sites that include Kromdraai. Since late 2005 the Maropeng visitors centre has welcomed people interested in this fascinating history of mankind to the World Heritage Site. This unspoilt, largely rural part of Gauteng, just outside Johannesburg, is one of the city’s greatest attractions.

The old Kromdraai goldmine, one of the initial goldmines on the Witwatersrand, dates back to 1881 - some time before Johannesburg’s gold reef was discovered - and provides hourly guided tours for those interested in the history and geology of the mine.

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