Camp entrance at Skukuza
|• Type||Ward 39|
|• Councillor||Dudu Tryphinah Nkosi|
|• Total||4.98 km2 (1.92 sq mi)|
|• Density||320/km2 (830/sq mi)|
|Racial makeup (2011)|
|• Black African||83.9%|
|First languages (2011)|
|Time zone||UTC+2 (SAST)|
Skukuza (formerly Sabi Bridge), located 50 km east of Hazyview at the confluence of the N'waswitshaka and Sabie Rivers in Mpumalanga, is the administrative headquarters and the "Capital city" of the Kruger National Park, South Africa. It is also the largest rest camp of the park and the country. It is South Africa's number one game viewing destination and is the most popular game reserve in the country. It is popular with domestic and foreign tourists alike, as the big five game are in relative abundance when compared it to other game reserves in the country. A tourist in Skukuza may not have to go out looking for Africa's big five, as these animals could potentially be observed from the deck of the Cattle Baron restaurant. Lions, leopards and cheetahs regularly kill their prey on the green lawns of Skukuza's golf course or cricket club. The game reserve is situated in a medium rainfall area (770 mm of rainfall per year), on the well-wooded banks of the Sabie and N'waswitshaka rivers of Mpumalanga Province.
The area that surrounds present-day Skukuza was a Tsonga chiefdom under the authority of Hosi Ngomane. The Tsonga people of the area hunted animals with bows and arrows as well as snares and eventually rifles obtained from the white men. They used the Sabie River for fishing. The land where the Skukuza camp is situated was Hosi Ngomane's palace (Hubyeni). Hosi Ngomane and his people continued to stay in the beautiful land of Skukuza until 1905, when the Transvaal Government issued orders that they be evicted. The evicted Tsonga were resettled in villages around Hazyview, such as Hoxani, Cunningmore, Mkhuhlu and the greater Hazyview area where there was already a problem of overcrowding by large Tsonga speaking communities. Before evictions, the Tsonga people occupied the entire region east of Hazyview, which is where the majority of private game reserves in Mpumalanga are situated today.
When the government decided to establish a national park during the late 1800s and early 1900s, they sent James Stevenson-Hamilton as the only government official. British troops still occupied the area that today forms the southern part of the park after the Second Boer War. In particular, one of the locations of a British forward position was at the Sabie River in an old block house. After the troops were disbanded, Stevenson-Hamilton decided to make this location his base of operations. The government moved the Tsonga people to villages on the outskirts of Hazyview.
The name "Skukuza" was given to James Stevenson-Hamilton by his staff, the local Tsonga people, as a nickname. It could be translated as 'to sweep', as Stevenson-Hamilton was perceived as to sweep the land clean of poachers and other criminals operating in the area. But according to Dr H. A. Junod, an expert in Tsonga history, the name Skukuza reflects the Tsonga people's attitude and resentment towards forced removal from their beautiful and fertile land.
Being the largest rest camp in the Kruger National Park and a village in its own right, Skukuza boasts more facilities than any other camp. These include:
- The Cattle Baron restaurant is a steakhouse/grill with excellent al fresco dining overlooking the Sabie River.
- The Skukuza Cricket Club hosts visiting teams from across the globe at the Skukuza Oval. The club is famous for their friendly, social spirit, fierce competitiveness, and their "Kuduhorn" - an actual Kudu horn used as a beer funnel during post-match fines meetings.
- The Skukuza Golf Course is the only golf course in the world situated inside a national park. The Big Five can often be encountered on its lush green fairways.
- Kruger Park Doctors is the privately run medical practice in Skukuza. Established in the 1960s, the practice is currently owned by doctor Nardus Visser. Along with permanent resident doctor Julia Dabrowski, they provide world class medical care to staff and guests of the Kruger National Park and surrounding private reserves, 24 hours a day.
- The Nombolo Mdhluli conference center is a state-of-the-art venue that can cater for up to 500 people at a time.
- The Parks Shop is a general store that sells groceries, clothing and curios
- First National Bank has a branch in Skukuza.
- The Skukuza police station is responsible for policing the camp and surrounding area. It also houses the Skukuza regional court.
- Laerskool Skukuza Primary is a dual-medium primary school, catering primarily to the permanent residents of Skukuza.
- The Dutch Reformed Church is a christian church, currently staffed by Ds. Carl Louwrens.
- The Skukuza nursery specializes in the cultivation and supply of indigenous plants found in the area.
- The camp also has a small museum and a library.
- The Protea Hotel - Paul Kruger Gate (operated by Marriott) is around 15km from the main rest camp just outside the boundary of the park.
On the cards now is the new Skukuza safari lodge, a 4-star hotel that is currently being funded by the South African government at the cost of R250m or $25m USD. Murray and Roberts have been awarded the contract to build South Africa's only safari lodge, completion of the lodge is expected during the later part of 2018. The new hotel will be built on the piece of land adjacent the existing rest camp, according to government sources, the new hotel will boosts more than 250 luxurious rooms to meet the demands of ever increasing number of tourists that flood the rest camp throughout the year. The South African government's decision to built a new luxurious hotel is because Skukuza is a firm tourist destination throughout the year and demand is always high for more accommodation within the boundaries of the park.
In addition, it has a number of historical sites including 3 museums and a library, besides a camp centre consisting of shops and restaurants. The Selati Train restaurant is situated on an old train platform on the eastern verge of the camp.
From the main reception a visitor can organize game drives, bush braais and guided walks in Kruger. Besides the camp basics, Skukuza also has 2 swimming pools, a golf course, library, minor motor repairs, police station, post office and even a bank. These shops and facilities are surrounded by different sized huts, larger guest houses as well as a rustic camping terrain.
Nearby the camp is a nursery where plants native to the region can be viewed and purchased. These are mostly suited to a similarly hot climate.
There is an airport 5 km away, called Skukuza Airport, with direct flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg on a daily basis. South African National Parks (SANParks) acquired 4 helicopters, which are based at Skukuza, in order to assist with anti Rhino poaching and other wildlife operations from the sky.
Guided Bush Walks Game Drives (in the company of trained field guides) Bush Breakfast and Bush Braai (Barbecue). Includes game drive to venue. Confirm availability when booking. Stevenson Hamilton Memorial Library Metsi Metsi Wilderness Trail (pre-booked overnight activity) Kids Educational Programme (Seasonal) Lake Panic Bird Hide (located approximately 7km outside the camp) Through prior arrangement with the camp, catered traditional dances can be arranged. Wildlife films every evening (except Sundays)
Skukuza is located in the southern part of Kruger and is the most popular and accessible camp, and one of the best for game viewing. In the vicinity of the camp all of the African big five can be found as well as other recognisable and exciting animals. The nearby Lake Panic hideoffers a vantage point of a water body from dense woodland.
The camp itself overlooks the Sabie River where elephants sometimes congregate. The stretch right opposite Skukuza is the home to a number of hippos. The trees along the river are home to very loud chacma baboons, while the piercing calls of greater galagos are heard at dawn and dusk. Wahlberg's epauletted fruit bats are easily seen under the verges of some thatched roofs. Some of these have been fitted with radio transmitters to study their feeding patterns.
Accommodation at Skukuza vary from small, but comfortable, bungalows to large guesthouses, suitable for tour groups. Each house has an outside braai (barbecue area) and mosquito protection. The large camping terrain has sites for caravans, motor homes and tents; campers share the ablutions, cooking and wash-up facilities. Staying at Skukuza means you are allowed to use facilities such as the swimming pools and watching free movies at the outdoor cinema.
The Stevenson-Hamilton library in Skukuza
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Skukuza.|
- "Sub Place Skukuza". Census 2011.
- Raper, P. E. (1989). Dictionary of Southern African Place Names. Jonathan Ball Publishers. p. 406. ISBN 978-0-947464-04-2 – via Internet Archive.
- Stevenson-Hamilton, James (1867-1957) (2008). South African Eden: from Sabi Game Reserve to Kruger National Park. Johannesburg: Penguin. ISBN 9780143185581. OCLC 235940244.