HISTORICAL SITES – Of The Kruger Park
Kruger National Park is renowned for its diverse wildlife, breathtaking landscapes, and immersive safari experiences. Beyond its natural wonders, the park also holds a captivating history that unveils the cultural and historical significance of the region. In this blog, we will explore the historical sites within Kruger National Park, taking you on a journey through time and shedding light on the stories and legacies that have shaped this extraordinary place.
Joao Albasini arrived in the area in the late 1800s and established a trading store and dwelling, which now stands as the Albasini Ruins. These ruins offer a fascinating glimpse into the challenges and triumphs faced by early European settlers in this remote wilderness.
The Albasini Ruins consist of stone foundations and walls that remain from the original structure. The construction techniques employed reveal the resourcefulness and craftsmanship of the time. The ruins are spread over a small area and are surrounded by lush vegetation, blending harmoniously with the natural environment.
Visiting the Albasini Ruins allows you to step back in time and imagine the bustling activity that once took place in this remote outpost. It’s a reminder of the pioneering spirit of individuals like Joao Albasini, who ventured into uncharted territories to establish trade connections and leave a mark on the region’s history.
Exploring the Albasini Ruins can be done on foot, and interpretive boards provide information about the history and significance of the site. It’s an opportunity to appreciate the resilience and tenacity of those who sought their fortunes in this wilderness and to gain a deeper understanding of the cultural and historical context of the area.
Masorini is an archaeological site located within Kruger National Park, offering a glimpse into the Iron Age civilization that once thrived in the region. The site is situated near the Phalaborwa Gate, which provides convenient access for visitors.
At Masorini, you’ll find a reconstructed village that showcases the lifestyle and technological advancements of the people who inhabited the area around 1,000 years ago. The village consists of stone-walled huts, known as kraals, which were traditionally constructed by the Ba-Phalaborwa people.
Exploring the site allows you to witness the impressive craftsmanship of the ancient inhabitants, who built these huts using local materials and techniques. The walls were made of stones stacked together, while the roofs were constructed from branches, grass, and clay. Some huts contain fire pits, grinding stones, and storage areas, giving you a sense of how daily life was conducted during that time.
In addition to the reconstructed huts, Masorini also features an interpretive center where you can learn more about the history and significance of the site. The center displays artifacts discovered during excavations, such as pottery, tools, and iron smelting furnaces. These artifacts provide valuable insights into the technological advancements and cultural practices of the Iron Age civilization.
Crooks Corner is a historically significant location situated at the confluence of the Limpopo and Luvuvhu Rivers, near the northernmost tip of Kruger National Park. This area holds a fascinating past, intertwined with tales of adventurers, smugglers, and fugitives.
The name “Crooks Corner” is believed to have originated from its reputation as a refuge for outlaws and criminals in the early 20th century. The remote and challenging terrain, combined with the proximity to Mozambique and Zimbabwe, made it an ideal hiding place for individuals evading the law.
During the colonial era, Crooks Corner was notorious for being a smuggling route, with traders transporting illegal goods between South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. The convergence of three political boundaries (South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique) in close proximity added to the allure of the area for those involved in illegal activities.
One of the most famous outlaws associated with Crooks Corner was a man named Cecil Barnard, also known as “Mr. Big Nose.” He operated a successful ivory smuggling operation during the early 1900s, taking advantage of the region’s vast wildlife resources.
Apart from its reputation as a haven for criminals, Crooks Corner has also been a significant landmark for explorers and adventurers throughout history. It served as a gathering point and departure location for numerous expeditions into uncharted territories, including those led by well-known figures such as Frederic Courtney Selous, a renowned big game hunter and explorer.
HARRY WOLHUTER ATTACK SITE
The Harry Wolhuter Attack Site is a significant historical location within Kruger National Park that commemorates a notable event involving a game ranger named Harry Wolhuter. The incident, known as the Harry Wolhuter Attack, occurred in 1904 and has become a well-known story in the park’s history.
Harry Wolhuter was one of the first game rangers appointed to protect wildlife and enforce conservation laws in what was then the Sabi Game Reserve, a forerunner to Kruger National Park. On a fateful day in April 1904, Wolhuter found himself in a life-or-death struggle with a wounded lion while on patrol.
According to Wolhuter’s account, he encountered the lion during his routine patrols on horseback. The lion attacked him, knocking him off his horse and mauling him. In a desperate fight for survival, Wolhuter managed to draw his hunting knife and stab the lion, eventually killing it.
The Harry Wolhuter Attack Site marks the location where this dramatic encounter took place. It serves as a reminder of the bravery and dedication of early rangers like Wolhuter, who risked their lives to protect the wildlife and natural heritage of the area.
JOCK OF THE BUSHVELD BIRTHPLACE
In the vast wilderness along the Voortrekker road, a South African legend was brought into the world. Jock, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, was the name bestowed upon the runt of a litter by Sir Percy FitzPatrick, who saved the pup from certain demise. Little did they know that their bond would lead to years of thrilling adventures, immortalized in the renowned book ‘Jock of the Bushveld.’
The exact location of Jock’s birth remained a mystery until 1883 when a senior ranger, engaged in mapping the old Voortrekker road, stumbled upon the site in the Kruger Park. It was during his explorations that Percy, in his book, hinted at Jock’s birthplace being near the burial site of a man named Adolf Soltke. Adolf had met an untimely end, accidentally shooting himself. The ranger team, while carrying out their work in the area, had fortuitously stumbled upon Adolf’s grave, ultimately leading to the discovery of the exact birthplace of Jock.
SELATI RAILWAY BRIDGE
The Skukuza rest camp in Kruger National Park is home to one of the most iconic features: the Selati railway crossing over the Sabie River. This historical railway line holds significant recognition within the park. Originally commissioned in 1893, construction on the line faced numerous setbacks due to corruption. Eventually, the company responsible for its construction went bankrupt, halting any progress for the next 15 years.
During the Anglo-Boer War, the existing portion of the railway was utilized for transporting supplies between Kamatipoort in the south and other locations. To make the line profitable, a popular tourist service known as the “round in nine” operated for a period of time. This nine-day round trip included a stopover at Kruger Park, treating passengers to an overnight stay. Unfortunately, the train also caused several fires within the park, leading to the discontinuation of the service.
As years passed, the railway line at Skukuza fell into disuse. However, its significant role in the park’s development remains unforgettable. The line was eventually rerouted along the western boundary of the park, preserving its historical legacy.
While the Selati railway at Skukuza is no longer operational, its presence serves as a testament to the park’s growth and evolution over time. Visitors can reflect upon the railway’s impact on the park’s history, appreciating its contribution to the development and accessibility of Kruger National Park.
A newly built lodge now calls the bridge home
The Voortrekkers were the original trek boers who left the Cape colony in large numbers during the early 1800’s to escape the oppressive rule of the British. They were driven by the desire to set up their own trading port in Delagoa Bay in what is now Mozambique.
Various failed expeditions set out for the port and it wasn’t until Louis Tregardt became the first of the Voortrekkers to complete the arduous journey in 1837-38. The route across the Kruger National Park took it’s toll on each party with numerous members killed by malaria.
The Voortrekker road was clearly marked out in 1848 by Karel Trichardt and it wasn’t until gold was discovered in Lydenberg 20 years later that the route was heavily used by transport riders.
Today the route is a popular road in the Southern Kruger Park, still following it’s original path laid all those years ago.