Sawubona.  Zulu for good morning and what a morning it is going to be.  The sun rose at 6:35 today, Thursday 7th May and like yesterday it is going to be another fine day, with clear skies and sunshine.

You are on holidays and while there are lots of things to see and do there is no need to be up with the sunrise, so you can relax grab that first coffee and be ready to leave around 9am.  Your first stop will be at Olives and Plates in the grounds of Wits University for breakfast before heading out to the Cradle of Humankind and the Sterkfontein Caves.

The Cradle of Humankind is a World Heritage site and is also the world’s richest hominin site with approximately 40% of the world’s human ancestor fossils.   Since 1938 discoveries have been made around the area and in 1947 a hominid skull dated around 2.15 million years old was discovered in the Sterkfontein Caves by palaeontologist Dr Robert Broom.  That skull is now known worldwide as Mrs Ples.

This area continues to be a treasure trove and as recently as 2013, two cavers exploring the Rising Star cave system came across a new find in an area hard to reach due to the size of the entrance.  A team of speleological scientists was put together consisting of six women, chosen for their paleoanthropological, caving skills, and their small size.  They recovered over 1,200 specimens of a unidentified fossil hominin species that has now been identified and named Homo naledi, after the Sesotho word for “star”.  This is the single richest fossil site of its kind ever found in Africa and it has revealed a tiny-brained species with shoulders and a torso like an ape but with some unshakably humanlike features.

Today you will spend time in both the Maropeng Visitor Centre and the Sterkfontein Caves.  The visitor centre is informative and focusses on the development of humans over the past few million years and looks at where we are going as a planet.  At the caves, you will be accompanied by a local guide and the tour will start above ground and then you will descend underground into the caves.

After a full day out and about, a meal at The Local Grill, which is one of Johannesburg’s finest steak restaurants is in order, together with a glass of a very South African wine, Pinotage.  Perfect way to finish off a perfect day

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