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Thulamela Historical Site

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Junior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Tue May 03, 2005 7:39 am
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Location: West Coast RSA
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Thu May 12, 2005 8:35 am Unread post
About 6 years ago, a close friend of mine, Sidney Miller was contracted by SANParks to uncover artifacts at the Thulamela dig near Pafuri, now apparently open as a guided tour site.
He invited my wife, Jenny and I to stay at the Pafuri cottage (by that spreading Witgatboom) with him for a long weekend and to visit the excavations with him, as he knew that I have always had a huge interest in old bones, stone-age tools and ethnic history.
He later went on to Mojaje (the home of the Rain Queen) and to Mapungubwe where he was largely responsible for the uncovering of many gold and glass items, including the famous gold rhino that put the site firmly on the SA archeological map.

The Thulamela site was accessible from the Nyala road up a shallow winding ravine and comprised a slightly angled flat topped hill with huge baobabs at the base of the partly rebuilt stone ramparts that bordered the ancient settlement.
The site was peopled by the scattered Greater Zimbabwe folk whose settlements and kraals were connected to one another by well-worn trading routes to Mapungubwe, today's Zimbabwe Ruins and the East via Mocambique centuries ago, and testimony to their presence is proven by his recovery of thousands of items of beadwork, gold jewellery, ironmongery, bones, pots and stone tools of the day from many excavations and middens (rubbish and ash heaps) around the site.

The restoration of the perimeter walls was a mammoth task, and included the re-erection of miniature stone dolmens that had stood up from the centre top of various aspects of the walls.

The Royal "chambers" were situated at the highest part of the excavation, proudly announced by the presence of a big tree that had subsequently grown next to one wall of the King's hut, and to which all supplicants were only permitted to approach with pre-ordained permission and gifts, and even then, flat on their bellies with their foreheads scraping a furrow in the dirt.
Woe betide any approachee who was not quite flat enough - there is evidence that people were thrown from the high ramparts for disobeying this rule of respect, and no doubt, others.

The King's wives were at the next level down, followed by the King's children and minders.
Then came the mighty warriors and their families whose job it was to protect the King, and finally the old, the infirm, ordinary people, visitors, traders and other hangers-on.

On our arrival there, the KNP guard who accompanied us, duly armed with a rifle of massive proportions, gave us strict (but needless) instructions to take no artifact, rock or any other item from the site.
It pained me when we left, that while taking his car keys from his pocket, out fell an artifact that he had picked up and hidden away.
We escorted him back up the hill and made him place it back where he had found it.
Sidney was furious, as his job was threatened by this misbehaviour at a time when continued funding for his Project was at an all time low.

I will never forget Thulamela in it's partly excavated state, with its aura and ghosts of those fascinating and ancient peoples whose spirit now lives on for a few more thousand years in the ruins so lovingly restored by Sidney and his team.
Thank you Sidney, for your obvious love of the ancient rites and habits and for recreating this wonderful legacy for the pride and joy of all South Africans.

With great respect, we salute you. :clap: :thumbs_up:
Mike and Jenny.


Last edited by WestCoaster on Fri May 13, 2005 6:35 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Legendary Virtual Ranger
Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2004 10:27 am
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Location: Chasing down the rarities
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Thu May 12, 2005 8:41 am Unread post
Thanks WestCoaster,

That was interesting reading. Pitty about the guard. :x

Interesting thing about the ghosts. Seen any? :wink: Here is some as well.

Thanks for sharing...
Kind regards



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Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Joined: Thu Dec 23, 2004 1:38 pm
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Thu May 12, 2005 8:48 am Unread post
Will definitely arrange a visit to the site next time in Kruger. Last year we drove right to the end of Nyala road and the realised that you need to book at Punda to visit. Nyala road in my opinion is one of the most beautiful roads in the whole park!



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Senior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Sat Dec 04, 2004 12:06 am
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Location: the Netherlands
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Thu May 12, 2005 6:27 pm Unread post
Thank you, WestCoaster! :)
Never been to Thulamela but I visited the Mapungubwe Hill excavation site in Dec 2004 and was fascinated. Definitely a must when you're staying in Mapungubwe or anywhere near.

:!: @moderators (and WestCoaster): hope it's ok but I have linked to the above article on the Northern Parks Forum under a new topic "Mapungubwe... historical site". If not, you can slap my wrist and hit delete. :)



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Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2004 1:53 pm
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Location: Provence - France but my heart is in the bush...
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Thu Jan 19, 2006 9:36 am Unread post
I did not find a lot of information about Thulamela excursion. As I'd like to visit that place, if anybody could give me info about it. How long is the excursion? How much is it? And any more advice that seems to you helpful for me. Thanks in advance.


Nyala Drive (S64) [Arks Quizz #6]

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Senior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Sun Mar 20, 2005 5:53 pm
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Location: Cambridge, MA (and home from home in Darling, WC)
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Sat Jul 15, 2006 12:55 am Unread post
Nyala road near Thulamela.
You don't really notice this tree if you only drive the loop part of Nyala Drive, but if you drive out the extension that goes towards Lanner Gorge and past the Thulamela site, when you return, you just can't miss this quite distinctive baobab.
Its 3-stem structure is so unusual.

ImageLarge


Last edited by arks on Wed Aug 09, 2006 7:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Honorary Virtual Ranger
Joined: Fri Jan 14, 2005 5:42 pm
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Wed Nov 15, 2006 12:26 pm Unread post
papop wrote
I did not find a lot of information about Thulamela excursion.

Anyone?



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Joined: Thu Dec 16, 2004 1:53 pm
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Location: Provence - France but my heart is in the bush...
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Wed Nov 15, 2006 1:04 pm Unread post
I have now more information, because I have been there in March.
I can recommend this excursion which is really interesting. The place is amazing. Our guide was talking about the site with passion and a lot of knowledge. We left Punda at 7:00 AM and went back for lunch. The tour start with the site visit ( around 1h30). you walk in the middle of huge baobabs up to the top of the hill from where you have a fantastic view point.
After the site visit you go up to Crooks corner.
I am sorry but I don't remember the exact costing, but it is less than 200 rand by pax.
The place is wild, remote, and you really feel the African story.
Don't hesitate to go there.


Punda Maria - Thulamela heritage site

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Joined: Tue Jun 27, 2006 11:37 am
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Location: Running from Caught - Corner Grazers Avenue & Herbivore Ambush Spot
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Thu Apr 12, 2007 10:36 am Unread post
8) The camp hospitality standard seems to have improved and complaints are attended to promptly. what a feeling to be in Thulamela Site & the special baobab forest view. if you have never participated in this activity...you dont know what you are missing! 8)


Thulamela

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Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 4:02 pm
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Fri Aug 15, 2008 10:39 am Unread post
Will be visiting Punda Maria, Shingwedzi and Letaba in May 2009. We would like to visit Thulamela. Is it possible to do a self-guided tour or must we take the official tour from Punda?


Re: Thulamela

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Distinguished Virtual Ranger
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2005 12:28 am
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Location: Pretoria, RSA
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Sat Aug 16, 2008 1:39 am Unread post
You need to take a guided tour.

It is booked at Punda Maria but departs from Pafuri picnic site. Armed guides will accompany you on the tour, since it is done on foot. They also do the interpretation.

It is really worth the effort!


Re: Thulamela

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Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 4:02 pm
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Tue Aug 19, 2008 1:01 pm Unread post
Hi
Thanks for the info. How far must we walk and how demanding is it? My father is a very fit 84 years old with a slightly dodgy knee. If there is flat walking he's ok but climbing is out.


Re: Thulamela

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Distinguished Virtual Ranger
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Location: Pretoria, RSA
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Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:18 pm Unread post
There is a footpath leading to the top. It's been a while since I was there, maybe someone else has done it recently and can give a better answer?


Re: Thulamela Historical Site

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Virtual Ranger
Joined: Sat Nov 26, 2005 3:28 pm
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Location: Bloemfontein, RSA
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Sun Jan 04, 2009 7:47 am Unread post
Can anyone help out with the latest info please?


Re: Thulamela Historical Site

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Senior Virtual Ranger
Joined: Mon Dec 11, 2006 1:45 pm
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Location: southern gauteng
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Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:20 pm Unread post
I would say it should be easily do-able , there is a fair climb as far as I can recall when I did it in 1999/2001, but if it gets too tough why not return to the vehicle and spend a while with him in silence and drink in the tranquility ?
I will pm Betelgeuse who may be able to give more accurate input .
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