27 November 2012

A Visit to the Sterkfontein Caves.

Several months ago, while Jenny and Brigid were out visiting {see here + here}, we decided to set a day aside to visit the Sterkfontein Caves.  The Sterkfontein caves are nestled in the heart of the Cradle of Humankind located just an hour outside of Johannesburg, and they had been sitting near the top of my "to-do in Jo'burg" list for almost as long as I can remember.  The caves are well known for housing well-preserved hominid fossils, including an intact human skull dating back 2.1 million years {named Mrs Ples} and an almost complete human skeleton dating back 3 million years {coined Little Foot}.  The Cradle of Humankind was declared a World Heritage Site in 2000 and is well worth a visit if you ever find yourself in the Gauteng area.


After enjoying a cappuccino in their cute little cafe, Jenny, Brigid and I joined one of the hourly tours and were assigned a guide.  The guide spoke briefly about the history of the caves and about the on-going research and excavation that continues to occur, as archaeologists are still in the process of unearthing early homosapien remains today.  We were even able to slip past one of the excavation sites, but it was too dark to see inside the narrow corridor.  

The rest of the tour was spent exploring the various chambers of the cave and learning about the different mineral formations.  One chamber in particular {Milner Hall} stood out as it contained an impressive underground lake.  The guide explained that researchers are actually unaware of how far into the cave the lake recedes as all exploration was halted after a student diver died during an exploratory assignment.  He apparently was able to find an unknown chamber with air, but rescuers were unable to reach him in time and he eventually died of starvation.  Standing in the dark, damp, and seemingly endless limestone tunnels - the thought of being trapped with no food, water, or light sent chills up my spine!

Overall, the tour was fascinating and something that I would love to do again in the future.
The whole experience makes you feel like you're going back in time!


Caves tours run 7 day per week from 9:00am - 5:00pm on the hour, with the last tour departing at 4:00pm.  For locals and tourists alike, the experience is an absolute must!  Tickets are R135 per adult {about $15 per person} and tours are approximately 60 to 90 minutes long.  For more information and directions visit their site here.

21 comments:

  1. this stuff is so cool - I always thought I was spoiled for history in London, but this is an entirely different level! (no pun intended? hehe)

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  2. Ooooh fun! I've been living in Johannesburg for 5years and have hardly explored the place! Sad I know! :(
    Maybe we should start exploring together!
    http://johced-ourjourneytoeverywhere.blogspot.com/
    xxx

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  3. Great photos! Love your 'little' amazing tour you did there!

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  4. I loved the Sterkfontein Caves and was equally freaked out by the student diver story (nightmare!)

    Love the last pic - so happy :)

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  5. Caves are so cool (and a little creepy!) I had no idea this existed in the J'burg area!

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  6. It looks amazing, but I probably would have hyperventilated when I heard that story. I become more claustrophobic the older I get!

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  7. That looks fun! If only I didn't have clautrophobia! :)

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  8. Oh wow what a cool experience! Looove exploring caves!!!

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  9. Oh my gosh, this would be so amazing! I wish that we had places like this somewhere close. You are so cute in these pictures!

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  10. European history has nothing on the age of these caves! Looks like such a fun trip.

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  11. After seeing your pictures, I would have never thought caves are in S. Africa. Now this is definitely on my list when I travel there in um 3453 years =P

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  12. It looks wonderful! I've always wanted to visit a cave like that :) I've just been to one cave and it was so narrow you had to crawl through it, it was kind of scary! Haha

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  13. Sounds great! Will defintely try to go there next time I am in Jburg for business! x

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  14. LOVE your blog! Thanks so much for stopping by mine, I'm so happy to have found yours! I studied abroad in South Africa actually and can't wait to take my husband back some day! Can't wait to read all about your adventures :)

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  15. Wow, great photos! I have never been there before, I don't even think I know where these caves are, hahaha.

    Were you scared? Or claustrophobic?

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  16. wow! ya know i don't think i've ever been inside a legit cave before

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  17. Was just checking out the cradleofhumankind hashtag on Twitter and was directed to your post! We just went this weekend and it was awesome! Thanks for recommending it us.

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Thanks for commenting! I love reading each and every one of them :)