The family had an outing weekend before last. Normally our weekends consist of hitting the grocery store for the weeks provisions and maybe scouting out the mall. This weekend we needed something more exciting. So we traveled to the Maropeng/Cradle of Humankind which is just a little southwest of where we live, about an hours drive away.
We didn't quite know what we would find as the site is really a collection of several attractions including a museum, caves, and archeological sites all under the cap of the "cradle" in a national park kind of arrangement. We had previously visited the Lion and Rhino Park when we first arrived, which is inside the boundaries of the park, but we didn't really explore much beyond the preserve and the wondercave.
This time we were going to check out the museum. When we got there it doesn't really look like much, kind of a big hill with a doorway leading into it. Once inside you can go down a ramp to the museum entrance or up to one of the restaurants, the Tumulus. It was close to lunch when we arrived so we were going to get something to eat before we hit the museum (nothing like trying to tour a museum when the kids are nagging you about being hungry) so we went looking for the cafe the map claimed they had. We went up to the first floor where the restaurant was thinking it was the cafe and we could just get a couple burgers or something but once inside (with no way back) we realized this was a sit down Sunday lunch with full spread, or carvery as they like to call them. Once in we didn't really have much choice but to stay and take a table as it would have been very embarrassing to leave at this point. Turns out the meal was pretty good. All you can eat and you know how I hate to pay 'all you can eat' prices when I'm just not that hungry.
Anyway, after we ate we went down to the museum and had a look around. The actual entrance to the museum goes down a spiral ramp into the "hill" I mentioned and you take an underground boat ride into the belly of the earth (Seriously they made it up like a funhouse ride to demonstrate the creation of the planet and life on it. With volcanic eruptions and ice ages. The kids actually seemed a little nervous like they were expecting a skeleton to hop out.)
We looked at a lot of interactive exhibits focusing on everything from the origins of life to evolution to biodiversity, and the highlight of the exhibits were the Australopithecus fossils for which the region is famous. The first and majority of these fossils were found here.
The kids enjoyed the hands on stuff and as it wasn't very crowded on the day, we cruised through the displays as fast or as slow as we liked. We went through it pretty fast so the kids didn't get too bored, but still took in a lot of information.
We exited on a lookout platform that had a spectacular view of the park and we walked around the grounds back to the entrance. It even had some of the nicest smelling public toilets I've come across. Walking into this ladies was like walking into an A & F store.
The kids enjoyed the outside as much as the inside I think.
All in all a good day trip.