Plan Your Journey

Lee Berger is currently one of the most sought after paleoanthropologists as well as a National Geographic explorer-in-residence. He is a professor of Human Evolution and the Public Understanding of Science in the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Professor Lee Berger has made what has been hailed as the most important archaeological discoveries in recent history—two new species of human ancestors. Guided by a pair of local cavers, Berger discovered ancient fossils deep inside the Rising Star cave. There, 30 meters underground in the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage site, Berger’s team uncovered more than 1,550 fossil elements, representing an unprecedented 15 individuals. He named the new species Homo naledi.

“We’ve found a most remarkable creature,” says Berger. “This new discovery is the single largest fossil hominin find in Africa to date. It shakes up our understanding of the human family tree and has the potential to transform understanding of human evolution.”

Lee has been named of the Times Most Influential People.

The Cradle of Humankind is one of eight World Heritage Sites in South Africa. Here the landscape is dotted with subterranean limestone caves that have turned up a rich fossil record for human evolutionary studies. These findings have led to the 'Out of Africa' theory, estimating that most human ancestors originated from one general spot… Africa.

The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site lies about 50km north-west of Johannesburg, an area of rolling grassland, rocky outcrops and river courses typical of this land before it was overtaken by urban sprawl.

It’s here where you get to see history being made – where you can witness actual real life discoveries as they are being found. Tens of thousands of visitors from across the world come here to see first-hand the fossil record that lies in the network of limestone caves beneath the surface.

Find out more at