Putting the Trendy Back in Troglodyte
When I was a teenager and my brother and I argued, my usual defining blow would be to call him a troglodyte. At the time he did not know what it meant, so it left him without any retort other than, “No, you are!” In South Africa’s UNESCO World Heritage site, The Cradle of Humankind, however, the word troglodyte is a source of pride as it seems that our “cave dwellers” may have been the world’s first.
Perhaps the most famous is the 2.3-millionyear-old fossil Australopithecus africanus, more commonly known as Mrs Ples. But this famous lady is a spring chicken compared to some of the other hominin fossils discovered in the area, some dating back as far as 3.5 million years, making them the oldest ever found. These are responsible for the heritage site’s name, as archaeologists have theorised that this part of Africa could be the place where the earliest inhabitants of humans first evolved. That makes them some pretty trendsetting troglodytes. Cave Dwelling in Style
If you, too, want to get in on the trendy troglodyte action, there is no better way to do it than by booking a stay at the quirky Forum Homini Hotel. Located in the Cradle of Humankind, the hotel takes the theme “cave dwelling” to a whole new level, with each of its 12 rooms dug into a hillside to recreate our ancestors’ first homes. You will even find a warming fireplace and some stalactite lights hanging from the roof. But that is where the similarities end, because sleeping on a hard stone floor is not all it is cracked up to be. Instead, modern cave dwellers can sink into soft king-sized beds, or – if the mood strikes – cuddle up on fluffy rugs in front of the fire.
While most of the rooms look out onto the surrounding bush in front, with a picturesque lake behind, there is no need to go all old-school with your ablutions. There is a large bathtub to wallow in – right next to the fire for those chilly Gauteng winters –
and, should you want something a smidge more authentic, you can opt for the large mosaiced shower of which the shower head mimics the delicious feel of rainfall.
Various striking statues and artworks dotted around the hotel pay homage to our hominin ancestors and to our evolution as a species. My particular favourite are a set of footprints that start ape-like, and evolve with each step until the final distinctive Homo sapiens imprint. I love these not only because they are fun to follow in an impromptu game of hop scotch, but also because they lead to the award-winning Roots restaurant, enclosed in glass walls to allow for beautiful views over the lake in front of it. A Whole New Take on Paleo Dining
While “Paleo” diets were all the rage several years ago, you need not worry that you will be fed like a troglodyte here. The fine-dining restaurant Roots – which has been named as one of the top 10 in the country in the Eat Out restaurant awards on several occasions – serves cuttingedge cuisine, exquisitely paired with some of the best wines in the country.
The restaurant is famous for its fourcourse tasting menu lunches and six-course dinners, with each new dish eclipsing the one before it with its innovative flavour combinations and picture perfect presentation. The food is also delicious, so there is no need to feel intimidated by the haute cuisine-style food. In fact, when I was last there, several of the dishes included different types of edible “soil”, which is sure to have the troglodyte in you feeling very much at home. The various courses, while appearing quite small, add up quickly and so there should be no fear that you will have to return to your cave with a rumbling tummy, like so many of our ancient ancestors.
Instead you can amble back, as happily satiated as if you had a successful hunting day, but minus all the aches and pains catching and cooking that kudu yourself would have entailed. You can then close your door – no breezy cave entrances here – grab a night cap and sit next to your fire, imagining the fireside stories you will tell your own descendants of the time you, too, were a troglodyte.
For more information, please visit www.forumhomini.com. To book a table at Roots restaurant, contact +27 11 668 7000.