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Thulamela Historical Site

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WestCoaster
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Thulamela Historical Site

Unread post by WestCoaster » Thu May 12, 2005 8:35 am

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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Unread post by francoisd » Thu May 12, 2005 8:48 am

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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Jose
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Unread post by Jose » Thu May 12, 2005 6:27 pm

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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Nyala Drive (S64) [Arks Quizz #6]

Unread post by arks » Sat Jul 15, 2006 12:55 am

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.

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Last edited by arks on Wed Aug 09, 2006 7:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread post by papop » Wed Nov 15, 2006 1:04 pm

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.
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Re: Thulamela

Unread post by Imberbe » Sat Aug 16, 2008 1:39 am

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!
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Re: Thulamela

Unread post by CHRISGRO » Tue Aug 19, 2008 1:01 pm

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.
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Re: Thulamela Historical Site

Unread post by Betelgeuse » Fri Jan 09, 2009 11:12 am

Good day!
The footpath to the top of the hill resembles climbing stairs in some parts.

FYI The guides & vehicle leave from Punda at 7:00. If the guests want to meet the guides at Pafuri or adjust the departure time - it should be arranged at Punda Maria reception. The tour is approximately 5 hours in duration.

Hope it helps?

All the best
There is nothing like looking, if u want to find sumthing. You certainly usually find sumthing, if u look, but it is not always quite the sumthing you were after. - JRR Tolkien.

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Re: Thulamela Historical Site

Unread post by Betelgeuse » Sun Jan 11, 2009 1:39 pm

Good day Christo

At present the cost is R220 per person; min. 2 persons. (Please note that prices might increase) There aren't refreshments included, you need to take own refreshments with. Pafuri picnic area stocks icy cold drinks that is for sale. I'd definitely take water!

Thulamela Booking Info

Hopefully it won't be as hot in April! :)

All the best
There is nothing like looking, if u want to find sumthing. You certainly usually find sumthing, if u look, but it is not always quite the sumthing you were after. - JRR Tolkien.

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Re: Thulamela Historical Site

Unread post by Jen » Mon Jan 19, 2009 2:36 pm

If I wanted to reserve for 2 x Adults for May 2009 - how far in advance should I make the booking?
You mention we could arrange to meet the guide at Pafuri Picnic site - is this easy to arrange?
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Re: Thulamela Historical Site

Unread post by Betelgeuse » Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:26 am

Good day Jen.

I don't know what the availability for May is like; it's difficult to forecast. There's a maximum of 8 persons allowed on the trail. If you're here for just one day, I suggest that you book it in advance. It's quite easy to arrange to be met at Pafuri - you can book at Punda Maria reception & just ask the receptionist to arrange it with the guides.

Please note that if you want to book the walk on a Sunday; it has to be arranged in advance.

Kind regards
There is nothing like looking, if u want to find sumthing. You certainly usually find sumthing, if u look, but it is not always quite the sumthing you were after. - JRR Tolkien.

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Re: Thulamela Historical Site

Unread post by Betelgeuse » Wed Feb 04, 2009 10:01 pm

Good day!
Fortunately I helped out at Thulamela again last week & I could take some photographs of the pathway up to the hilltop. It is very lush at the moment.

There are loose rocks on the pathway which I didn't mention previously. The area is beautiful at the moment but visibility is hampered due to the dense vegetation cover. :cam:
There is nothing like looking, if u want to find sumthing. You certainly usually find sumthing, if u look, but it is not always quite the sumthing you were after. - JRR Tolkien.

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Re: Thulamela Historical Site

Unread post by Betelgeuse » Wed Feb 18, 2009 3:45 am

Photographs depicting the way up Thulamela hill. The vegetation is quite lush at the moment. Please note that there are loose rocks & pebbles on the pathway.

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Almost on top!
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Thulamela is in sight.
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On the southern cliff overlooking the valley from Thulamela's stronghold.
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Last edited by Elsa on Wed Sep 23, 2015 2:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: pics resized.
There is nothing like looking, if u want to find sumthing. You certainly usually find sumthing, if u look, but it is not always quite the sumthing you were after. - JRR Tolkien.

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Re: Thulamela Historical Site

Unread post by ndloti » Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:18 am

Thanks Su , I have been undecided whether to go to Bushmans on 15 th , or Nyalaland trail and then drive all the way outside the park to Skukuza for Metsi on 18 th , the lushness of the vegetation which contributes so much to the beauty of the scenery in your pictures has made my decision much easier .
KNP is sacred. I am opposed to the modernisation of Kruger and from the depths of my soul long for the Kruger of yesteryear! 1000+km on foot in KNP incl 56 wild trails.200+ nights in the wildernessndloti-indigenous name for serval.


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