Designed to celebrate the birth of the species in the nearby Cradle of Mankind, Forum Homini is truly one of a kind.
The 14-suite five-star hotel lies virtually unseen in the Letamo Game Estate in the Cradle of Mankind, where “chic caves” hidden in the earth mound around the restaurant offer visitors a luxury stay in rooms that hints at the life of the first hominids in Maropeng.
“I created Forum Homini in 2005 as a celebration of the birth of humankind in this area. Everything, from the earth-friendly design to the haute cuisine and the selection of art is carefully curated to stimulate a discussion on this human journey that began in Africa,” says Hendrik Marais, proprietor of Forum Homini and the acclaimed roots restaurant. ”….but not with skulls and bones as in a museum, but through living art, architecture, gardens and food – to celebrate humanity and how it evolved”
The hotel boasts artwork commissioned especially to celebrate the first fossil finds in the Cradle of Humankind. They include a fire cradle by Marco Cianfinelli, murals and paintings by Paul du Toit, hand crafted copper and steel light fixtures that hint at the double helix of human DNA and the so-called “bright gene” that gave birth to the human species.
One of the most inspiring pieces stands boldly at the entrance of Forum Homini. Titled “Sum of us” this metal sculpture by Marco Cianfinelli signifies the evolution of humankind from the first ancestral skull to the skull of modern man.
Forum Homini this year celebrates its tenth birthday and it has welcomed a new executive chef in Chris Tustian from the United Kingdom. Tustian is a classically French trained chef that takes his ingredients and inspiration from the abundance of fresh food grown in the surrounding area.
“Over the past decade we have welcomed visitors from across the globe. Many were drawn to roots restaurant and South Africa’s first degustation menu, but all were inspired and stimulated by our celebration of humankind,” says Marais.
Forum Homini offers a range of activities to its patrons, including tours through the Cradle of Mankind to view some of the fossils discovered here by scientists from Wits University and elsewhere.
The team at Forum Homini regularly assist visitors who would like to visit the Sterkfontein Caves where the well-known Mrs Pless and Little Foot was found and guests can opt for a palaeo tour with renowned palaeontologists that discuss the importance of the Cradle of Mankind and the larger Magalies area in our understanding of the birth of the human race.
“The highly exciting new find of Lee Berger in the Cradle confirms the reputation of this unique area as one of the places on earth where proof of how humanity evolved can be found – and that this process of human evolution was more wonderful than most people ever could dare to think!” says Marais.