PSSA Palaeotourism & Outreach

Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre

The Kitching Fossil Exploration Centre in Nieu Bethesda tells the story of life in South Africa 253 million years ago during the Permian Period. This was a time 50 million years before the first dinosaurs when the continents were joined to form the supercontinent, Pangea, and the mountains of the Cape were the size of the Himalayas. Proof for the existence of these animals and plants may be found in the rocks surrounding Nieu-Bethesda, the rocks of the Karoo Supergroup, which contain life from between 285 million and 180 million years ago. Nieu-Bethesda was also the early home of James Kitching one of South Africa's greatest Palaeontologists nicknamed "X-ray eyes" because of his uncanny knack for finding fossils.

Visitors to the Fossil Exploration Centre can experience the thrill of finding a fossil in the Karoo while on a short guided tour to nearby fossil-bearing rocks,. Step into the Fossil Exploration Centre and you enter a world without the plants and animals we know today. Life-sized models of prehistoric animals which once lived in the Karoo and paintings by the artist Gerhard Marx illustrate a time when there were no flowers or grasses, no mammals and no birds. Humans would only arrive on scene around 250 million years later. At this time the mammal ancestors (or therapsids) ruled the Earth.

Visitor Information

Take the Nieu-Bethesda turn off from the Graaff-Reinet - Middelburg Road and follow the signs.
Opening Hours: December holidays: 08:00 - 18:00, Rest of the year: 09:00 - 17:00
Prices R20 for a single ticket, R35 for a combined ticket with the Owlhouse

Tel : (011) 717-6685
E-mail: or,

Maropeng - Cradle of Humankind

Maropeng is the official centre for the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site near Johannesburg, South Africa. It is widely recognised that humankind emerged in Africa, and the Cradle presents powerful evidence of this.

West Coast Fossil Park