Discover the Cradle of Humankind with Palaeo Tours

Scientists in South Africa lead educational tours of the Cradle of Humankind’s human fossil sites By: Molly Montgomery
The Cradle of Humankind in South Africa is known for the human fossils found there. // © Palaeo Tours
The Cradle of Humankind in South Africa is known for the human fossils found there. // © Palaeo Tours

The Details

For visitors seeking an authentic Indiana Jones experience, Palaeo Tours in South Africa takes visitors into the Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A one hour’s drive northwest of Johannesburg, the Cradle of Humanity is named for the abundance of ancient hominid fossils discovered there, the most famous being the near-complete Australopithecus skeleton nicknamed “Little Foot.” With Palaeo Tours, visitors will have the chance to see archaeologists at work unearthing million-year-old human fossils. 

Palaeo Tours are led by trained scientists who will gladly answer visitors’ questions on human evolution. The company offers two options: a half-day tour or a full-day tour. The half-day tour consists of a visit to the working fossil site, Drimolen, where visitors observe an archaeological dig and may even glimpse two-million-year-old fossils being discovered right under their noses. Drimolen is considered the third-richest site for hominid fossils in the world, and the remnants found at the site date from 1.5-2 million years ago. Tea, coffee and refreshments are included as part of the tour, along with an interactive presentation by the guides on casting fossils. Throughout the day, the scientist guides will inform visitors about the significance of the fossil sites to the history of paleoanthropology, which is the study of our most ancient human ancestors. Visitors will also learn about the methods used to find and properly excavate fossils.

The full-day tour continues where the half-day tour leaves off, with the addition of lunch and an afternoon visit to Sterkfontein, another fossil site which has been under excavation since 1936. Sterkfontein is known for its underground caves, where numerous hominid fossils have been found that date from 1.5-3.5 million years ago. Visitors will be guided through a fossil museum and will have the opportunity to see the caves for themselves.

Advance booking is required, and requests for tours can be made on the company’s website. Palaeo Tours offers 15 percent commission to travel agents for groups of 13 and under and 10 percent commission for larger groups. Prices for a group of a four to six begin at approximately $110 for a half-day tour and $150 for a full-day tour.

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