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World Heritage Sites

The Taung World Heritage Site Extension

The Taung Heritage Site is the archaeological site where the fossilised skull of a young child was discovered by miners in 1924 and taken to the noted archaeologist Dr Raymond Dart. The finding of the Taung skull (Australopithecus africanus) at the Buxton quarry, in the North West Province, was noted to be one of the most significant archaeological accomplishments of the time. Some rather serious debate arose, both in support of, and against Dr Raymond Dart’s belief that this hominid represented the “missing link” between apes and humans.

The find effectively advanced the evidence of the existence of early man in Africa by more than a million years. This fossilised skull was the first Australopithecus specimen and had a brain larger than a chimp’s but smaller than a human’s. This would appear to support Dart’s “missing link” interpretation.

This renowned site was recently proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is dedicated to the discovery of the juvenile hominid skull. The famous Taung skull was returned from Witwatersrand University to the site of its discovery and has undoubtedly become one of the area’s major attractions. In addition, a monument to the discovery has been set up and an old mine tunnel has been opened for exploration.

As far as the Buxton quarry is concerned, it is no longer being mined, but continues to be a significant site for scientific research and it also provides visitors the opportunity to unwind in a place of great peace and tranquility.

Besides for the archaeologically significant sites, the Taung Heritage site and the village of Taung present numerous alternative spots that regularly attract tourists. The Taung Dam is an attractive picnic area situated a short distance from the village. Also on the outskirts of the village, is the Mmabana Arts & Culture Centre, a modern cultural outreach to the community, which provides skills training in a wide range of artistic disciplines. Those interested in agriculture will marvel at the transformation of the dry Harts River valley into an intensive farming region, through the provision of water supplied by a system of canals from the Bloemhof Dam. And these are but a few of the beauties to be explored.

TwoThe Cradle of Humankind (Fossil Hominid Sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai, & Environs)

The Cradle of Humankind is a listed World Heritage Site, shared between the South African provinces of Gauteng and the North West. Here one can explore the amazing finds that have led some of the world’s leading palaeo-anthropologists and archaeologists to suggest that humankind first appeared in this corner of Africa. Meet the famous “Mrs. Ples”; the lesser-known, but equally significant “Mr. Ples” and the amazing “Little Foot”.

Nature-based tourism is the fastest growing segment of the international tourism market and ther e is an increasing demand for a single experience which encompasses natural, cultural and historical tourism. The Cradle of Humankind not only fulfils, but exceeds all these needs.

This site is easily accessible, being situated only 45 minutes from Pretoria and Johannesburg, and is located a mere hour from Johannesburg International Airport.

Some of the activities offered to eager visitors of the area include cave tours to learn about humankind’s evolution, game drives, mountain bike trails, overnight hiking trails, craft rambles and a host of other ACTIVITIES.

ThreeThe Vredefort Dome World Heritage Site

Approximately 2 023 million years ago a massive meteorite struck the earth several kilometers above the present day village of Vredefort. The impact created a crater some 300 km in diameter, also encompassing the entire extent of the Witwatersrand basin between Johannesburg in the north-east and Welkom in the south-west. Vredefort is the world’s largest and oldest known impact structure. Today, this gigantic crater is deeply eroded after 2 billion years of geological activity. The Vredefort Dome represents the deep root of the central uplift of the impact structure, providing a stunning impression of the violent rock deformation caused by this impact. What is more, it represents a rare window into the deeper levels of the earth’s crust, magnificently exposed in numerous outcrops and even quarries.

The Vredefort Dome is known for its unique natural beauty and is considered to be one of the province’s prime adventure tourism destinations, probably because of its outstanding geological, archaeological and historical heritage.

The restored mining village at Venterskroon provides a fascinating insight into the pioneering days of gold mining. There are also numerous places in the scenic Vredefort Mountain Land where remnants of Iron Age habitation and Anglo-Boer War history can be studied.

Potchefstroom, the historic university town, lies to the north of Vredefort. Here one can take a walk through the centre of town to enjoy the remarkable colonial architecture.

West of Potchefstroom are the towns of Stilfontein and Klerksdorp. Even further west is the farming and alluvial diamond mining town of Wolmaransstad. The next stop is the village of Bloemhof, where the well-renowned Bloemhof Dam is located. Along the banks of the Dam is the Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserve that hosts all the main antelope species and is a wonderful place to enjoy a change of pace after a long drive.

The next town is Christiana on the banks of the Vaal River. This is an important agricultural centre and the point of departure to the village of Taung. Carrying on along the N18,you will be taken north to Vryburg and finally, on to the North West capital, Mafikeng.

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