I am scared to go into the Sterkfontein Caves, located within the Cradle of Humankind, a World Heritage Site an hour away from Johannesburg. A day earlier, our guide Mike lets us know about the small spaces inside the iconic cave.
For someone who's afraid of small spaces, this was going to be a challenge. At last, when the day arrives, I decide to be brave and take the tour. I am glad I did.
The tour starts with information about the Cradle of Humankind and how the fossils were discovered. Scientists discovered hominin (group consisting of modern humans, extinct human species and all our immediate ancestors) and other animal fossils at Sterkfontein Caves more than 4 million years ago.
One of the most famous of these fossils are Mrs Ples, a 2.15 million-year-old Australopithecus skull, and Little Foot, an almost complete Australopithecus skeleton, more than 3 million years old. These fossils are the precursors of modern humans.
The brief tour ends and we are ready to conquer the caves. At this point there are all kinds of thoughts running through my mind. Thoughts about what I will do if the cave collapses and whether the water I brought with me was going to last. Clearly I have been watching way too many movies.
Courage, our guide, tries to ease our fears when he tells us more about the caves. As he leads our group of 20 travellers inside the caves, he frequently stops to tell us about certain features of the cave.
This is not so bad, I think to myself. I am actually enjoying myself. It's nothing like anything I've done before, and learning more about the caves is inspiring. In fact, tours of this nature makes you to appreciate our history.
By the time we reach the 'narrow' parts of the caves, I am exhausted. But my adrenaline and my desire to know more pushes me to continue. The narrow pathways are easy to crawl through. By the end of the tour, I am feeling victorious, and ready to conquer another challenge.
I believe places like Sterkfontein Caves not only adds some adventure, but is a fun day out for the family.
I saw children as small as two years old crawl through the cave.
It is also not advisable for people who suffer from claustrophobia, acute asthma or chest problems to do the tour as there are a lot of stairs. Check with your medical doctor before you visit.
For more information, visit http://www.maropeng.co.za/content/page/explore-the-caves