From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Camp entrance at Skukuza
Camp entrance at Skukuza
Skukuza is located in Mpumalanga
 Skukuza shown within Mpumalanga
Coordinates: 24°59′45″S 31°35′31″E / 24.99583°S 31.59194°E / -24.99583; 31.59194Coordinates: 24°59′45″S 31°35′31″E / 24.99583°S 31.59194°E / -24.99583; 31.59194
Country South Africa
Province Mpumalanga
District Ehlanzeni
Municipality Mbombela
 • Type Ward 39
 • Councillor Dudu Tryphinah Nkosi
 • Total 4.98 km2 (1.92 sq mi)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 1,599
 • Density 320/km2 (830/sq mi)
Racial makeup (2011)[1]
 • Black African 83.9%
 • Coloured 1.6%
 • Indian/Asian 0.1%
 • White 14.4%
First languages (2011)[1]
 • Tsonga 58.0%
 • Swazi 9.7%
 • Afrikaans 9.5%
 • English 7.7%
 • Other 15.2%
PO box 1350

Skukuza is the administrative headquarters and main camp of the Kruger National Park, it is situated on the southern banks of the Sabie River in Mpumalanga Province. Skukuza was given by the local Tsonga people as a nickname for James Stevenson-Hamilton. It could be translated as 'to sweep', as Stevenson-Hamilton swept the Tsonga people out of their historic land. Skukuza is the natural home of the Tsonga people and they have lived here peacefully with Africa's Big five for generations until Paul Kruger evicted them from their ancestral land when the Afrikaner colonised this part of the lowveld. [2] Skukuza is the largest camp in the Kruger Park.

History of Skukuza[edit]

Skukuza was a large, densely populated Tsonga chiefdom under the Authority of Chief Ngomane and his people. The Tsonga people of Skukuza were great big game hunters, they hunted Africa's big five as well as smaller animals. They used Sabie River for fishing and were regarded as great fishermen by their neighbours. The land where the Skukuza camp is situated was chief Ngomane's palace (eHubyeni) and he used to conduct tribal meetings there. The entire area of Skukuza was dotted with Tsonga villages and was not an empty land as many people were made to believe, Skukuza was not even a game reserve, it was a residential area where Tsonga people used to live. When the South African Government decided to establish a National Park during the late 1800s and early 1900s, Skukuza was identified as a pontential site, firstly because of its natural beauty, the mighty Sabie River flowing right in the middle of the village, finally, because of its abundance of Africa's big five, Leopard, Lion, Cheetah, Buffalo, Rhino and Elephant were in large majority as compared to other sites. The Government came and evicted the Tsonga people and dumped them at villages around Bushbuckridge and Hazyview, where there was a large concetration of Shangaan people. By 1905, the Tsonga people were asked to vacate their ancestral land by the Transvaal's Government.

The person that was used to come and remove the Tsonga people was James Stevenson-Hamilton, a good friend and fellow of the Tsonga people. Stevenson-Hamilton was fluent in Tsonga language and was very familiar with Tsonga culture, he was a good friend of the Tsonga people and was taught animal hunting and tracking skills by the Tsonga. Stevenson-Hamilton was then given a new name by the Tsonga, they named him Skukuza, meaning 'new broom' or someone who turn things upside down, inside out. With the help of Stevenson-Hamilton, forced removal of Tsonga people took place between 1905 and 1910. The evicted Tsonga people were taken to villages next to the small town of Hazyview, some were taken to villages around Bushbuckridge, the villages next to Hazyview and Bushbuckridge were already occupied by other Tsonga tribe, the result was that Chief Ngomane lost his chieftainship and the Tsonga chiefdom of Skukuza was lost. After the removal, the Tsonga people were not allowed to enter Skukuza, they were only allowed to come in as workers.


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 5km away, called Skukuza, with direct flights from Cape Town and Johannesburg.


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 hide 24°58′52″S 31°33′58″E / 24.98111°S 31.56611°E / -24.98111; 31.56611 offers 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 can 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.

Image gallery[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Sub Place Skukuza". Census 2011. 
  2. ^ Raper, P.E. (2004). South African Place Names. Jonathan Ball, Jhb & Cape Town. p. 347. ISBN 1-86842-190-2.