Today was a school holiday, and after reading about the Homo Naledi exhibition a few weeks ago, I decided to take a day’s leave to take the kids to Maropeng. Maropeng is the visitors centre at the Cradle of Humankind (a World Heritage site).

We’ve never been there, even though it’s so close to home. So, seeing as the Homo Naledi exhibition is only at Maropeng temporarily, I decided this was the perfect opportunity to go.

The three of us went… and after chatting to our friends, Nick and his kids came along too. It was awesome for the kids to experience it with their friends.  None of the kids hadn’t been to the Sterkfontein caves either, so when we got to Maropeng, we decided to buy the combo tickets – which included entry into Maropeng and the caves.

Claire declared the entire day “EPIC”… which was her word of choice for everything she saw today.

Maropeng is amazing, especially for kids. Almost all the displays are interactive, and the ones that aren’t, are fascinating enough for the kids to want to read what was going on with them.

The boat tide that you go on in the beginning was one of the kids highlights. You go through a tunnel that depicts the way the earth was formed.


This was cool… you could phone an extinct animal… and it told you more about it. Behind Connor, suspended from the ceiling are fossilised skulls from types of animals found in the Cradle of Humankind.

Then it was time to wait in the long queue to get into the Homo Naledi exhibition. OK, to be fair, it only took 20 minutes, so it really wasn’t a long wait. Considering the number of people that were at the place today, we didn’t think that was bad.

It was awesome to be able to see the fossils. The kids were fascinated that every tiny bone was numbered and sorted. The exhibit with the feet and the hands were incredible to see too.

It’s going to be very interesting to follow the story as they discover more about the Homo Naledi find.

After doing the Sterkfontein Caves tour on the same day, I would recommend that to everyone. It kind of makes everything you see at Maropeng seem more real. You get to go into the caves where they’ve actually found bones and they’re still excavating the caves to find more. You get to see the type of rock that the fossils are found in, and see the damage that miners have done to the cave systems trying to get to limestone.

Stephen, our guide at Sterkfontein today, was amazing. He clearly loves the cave system, and is passionate about what they do there, and while we were waiting for some of the tour group to get through the tiny tunnels, he was telling us part of his story… he’s studying his Masters in Paleoanthropology and he’s going to be doing his PHD too. Going on a tour with someone like that guiding you (who could also relate to my crazy boys) made the whole experience more special.

This was the first place we stopped inside the caves… and where the guide got to know Connor’s name… he was quite keen to go clambering down the stairs on his own. He always keeps me on my toes!

The kids favourite part of the cave tour was the 374 steps going in an out of the cave… but their ultimate favourite was the narrow low tunnel that we had to crawl and bumslide through. The 4 kids were just behind the guide for the entire tour with everyone following behind… so of course one of them had to fart while going through the crawl space! LOL!

 

If you’re wondering about the cost… I paid R440 for 3 of us, for Maropeng and the caves (Maropeng is discounted while Homo Naledi is there)… and we were busy for hours and had a ball… it was well worth the money spent.

And then I’m sure there’ll be a question or two about my camera. Today I travelled with a Canon 5DIII and a 50mm 1.4 lens. Inside the cave I was shooting at ISO 10000 with f1.4.