Maropeng, 50km to the northwest of Johannesburg, Gauteng, was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999. The site is also one of South Africa’s 7 wonders and a wonderland for Anthropologists and Archaeologists from across the globe. Continually offering insight into prehistoric civilisation, just recently an entire host of new Homo Naledi fossils were discovered.
A vast network of caves in the region have seen scientists unearth over a third of the world’s early hominid fossils, prior to 2010. The Dinaledi Chamber, alone, contains over 1500 known Homo Naledi fossils, the most numerous on the planet. In order to truly appreciate the significance of the site, it is strongly recommended that a day or two is set aside for the tour of a lifetime.
The Tumulus Building is the home of the site’s main public exhibition. Built in accordance with strict environmental guidelines, the edifice is the result of a team effort of GAPP Architects and MMA. With several 14m high concrete ‘fingers’ and a self-presented air of rich history, the building moves in and out of sight as tourists approach the centre on the main route.
The amphitheatre houses 10 000 people, and the centre is continuously changing the fossils on display – no two visits are the same! One of the greatest attractions is the underground boat ride, which begins in the present day and takes guests on a journey back in time, retracing the steps of our ancient predecessors. With state of the art technology, you can also get a taste of what the most recent ice age felt like.
More and more land is being added to the World Heritage Site, offering greater opportunities for scientists and more fascinating history for South Africa to be proud of being home to. No matter how much you read about it, the experience is certainly one to add to your wishlist.