Sterkfontein Caves


Useful Information

Location: Sterkfontein Caves Rd, Oaktree, 3250.
9,5 km north-west of Krugersdorp in Gauteng. 45 minutes drive from Johannesburg International Airport.
(-26.015664, 27.734331)
Open: FEB to DEC daily 9-16.
Online booking mandatory.
[2023]
Fee: Adults ZAR 100, Children (0-6) free.
[2023]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave dolomite
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: upper level: 1,480 m asl.
lower level: 1,450 m asl.
Guided tours: D=60 min.
Photography: alowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:
Address: Sterkfontein Caves, Kromdraai Road, Johannesburg, Tel: +27-14-577-9000. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.

History

1896 an Italian contractor, Guiglelmo Martinaglia blasted here in search of lime.
09-AUG-1936 Dr. Robert Broom visited Sterkfontein the first time.
17-AUG-1936 Dr. Robert Broom found the first adult skull of the Australopithecus africanus.
1947 the cranium of an Australopithecus africanus, known as Mrs. Ples, was discovered by Dr. Robert Broom and Dr. John Robinson.
1956 in a younger part of the cave deposits, Dr. C.K. Brain discovered the first stone tools.
1968 start of continuous excavations by the Palaeo-Anthropological Research Unit of the Unitversity of the Witwatersrand.
1998 world's first complete hominid fossil skull with skeleton found at Sterkfontein.
1999 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
05-NOV-2004 declared a National Heritage Site.

Description

The Sterkfontein Caves are a very important prehistoric site. Dr. Robert Broom discovered the skull of a hominid at this site, the famous Mrs Ples. Despite this name, this skull was from a male hominid, and proved that this ancestor of humanity lived in South Africa more than 2.5 million years ago. This hominid is called Australopithecus africanus or Plesianthropus transvaalenis, which is the origin of the abbreviation Ples. Since these first finds, this cave has proved to be one of the richest sites of early hominid fossils in Africa.

The cave has two levels. The upper one was open to the surface for millions of years and contains the prehistoric remains. The lower lever has an underground lake and many beautiful formations. This is the part of the cave, which is open to the public.