Taken from www.krugerpark.co.za
History of Orpen
One of the urgent needs of the infant Kruger National Park was the provision of water to the growing number of game. The park represented a cause that was close to many peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s hearts. JH Orpen, a surveyor and member of the National Parks Board helped sponsor boreholes for the park. His wife Eileen bought up seven farms immediately to the west of Rabelais gate during the 1930s and 1940s and donated them to the Park, thereby extending the total area by almost 24 500 hectares.
When the entrance to the Park was moved 10km (6 miles) to the west of Rabelais in 1954, and a new rest camp was established beside the gate, it was named in honour of the Orpen family.
, which was opened in 1984, means 'mountain and dale' and is aptly named for its superb location.
Crocodile Bridge Camp:
During the eighteenth century, European explorers were lured inland by legends of the fabulous gold riches of Monomotapa. They came into conflict with the local inhabitants, whose traditional way of life was threatened by these unknown visitors from across the sea.
Francois de Cuiper of the Dutch East India Company led the first expedition to the area from the Cape in 1725. His party was attacked by local inhabitants in the Gomondwane bush (just north of Crocodile Bridge), and forced to retreat to Delagoa Bay.
When the Sabie Reserve (a forerunner of the Kruger National Park) was proclaimed in the late 19th century, Crocodile Bridge was one of the first four ranger posts. The bridge across the Crocodile River, visible from the rest camp, once formed part of the Selati railway line that wound its way through the Park to Skukuza. Construction of the bridge started in 1894 and was completed just before the end of the 19th century. The bridge continues despite being damaged in severe floods during February 2000.
Letaba Rest Camp:
In prehistoric times, parts of the present-day Kruger National Park were inhabited by successive groups of people. One such example is that of picturesque Masorini Hill which is 39km (24 miles) from Letaba. Human habitation at Masorini has been traced back several centuries to the late Stone Age, while more recently it has been home to the BaPhalaborwa tribespeople who inhabited it in the early 19th century.
They were cattle and crop farmers, as well as ironsmiths of note, who made a living by manufacturing iron artifacts and trading with Arab merchants on the east coast. Archaeological excavations have revealed hut floors, packed stone walls and terraces, grinding stones, pot shards, glass beads, ash and even food remains.
Most impressive, however, are the iron-melting furnaces, smithies and worked artifacts. The village offers an example of a specialized economyand well-developed technology that existed well before the arrival of the white man in South Africa. The origin of a typical Portuguese cross, carved into an old leadwood tree along the S95 road just north of Letaba, remains shrouded in mystery. It may have been carved by the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinandes das Neves, during his expedition to the Soutpansberg in 1860-61.
Between 1836 and 1860, groups of Voortrekkers investigated various possible routes through the Lowveld to the Portuguese harbours in Mozambique in an effort to establish trade. The Voortrekkers were a group of Dutch-speaking colonists that left the Cape Colony during the 1830s in pursuit of their vision of political autonomy in the interior, far from British influence and administration. Pretoriuskop Camp lies near one of these trade routes, and takes its name from the nearby hill where Pretorius is buried.
The Portuguese pioneer, JoÃƒÂ£o Albasini was the first European trader and elephant hunter to settle in the Lowveld. Between 1845 and 1860, he established various trading posts along the routes between the harbours in Mozambique and the inland mines and centers of the ivory trade. It was Albasini that buried Willem Pretorius at the base of Pretoriuskop. The ruins of his homestead north of the rest camp have been partly rebuilt. Visitors may leave their vehicles and view the exhibit of old photographs and artifacts documenting daily life of the day.
The most famous character from the days of the transport rider, Jock of the Bushveld, a Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross, was immortalized in a book by his owner, Sir Percy FitzPatrick, who wrote about his exploits with Jock while working as a transport rider in the Lowveld in the late nineteenth century. Jock's birthplace where he was born in 1885 is marked along the Voortrekker Road, which runs south east of Pretoriuskop. Pretoriuskop Camp features prominently in the history of tourism in the Kruger Park as well, since it was the first rest camp to be opened to visitors.
The Wolhuter hut at Pretoriuskop Camp dates from 1930 and is one of the few original huts built in the Park to provide tourist acommodation. Though no longer in use, it is being meticulously restored to its original form.
Shingwedzi Camp is associated first and foremost with Elephant, the world's largest land mammal. Breeding herds of 50 to 60 animals are common in this region. During the 1970s and 1980s some of the Kruger National Park's biggest tuskers roamed the region. They were named the Magnificent Seven, and one, Shingwedzi who died near the rest camp in 1981, carried tusks which weighed in at 47 and 58 Kg respectively. His tusks as well as those of his fellow giants can be viewed at Letaba Rest Camp.
It still remains uncertain from whence the name Shingwedzi is derived, but it is believed that the early Tsonga named the rivers of this area after prominent local people. Shingwedzi is said to be a combination of Shing-xa-goli, the name of a prominent person and 'njwetse', which describes the sound of iron being rubbed together.