The Thulamela ruins are located high on a hill, overlooking the Luvuvu River in the northernmost part of Kruger National Park. It is believed that the people who inhabited this settlement were descendants of the Great Zimbabwe civilisation. Many in the community were goldsmiths and traders who traded ivory, gold and iron with the Arab and Chinese seafarers who dominated many of the trade routes at this time. The stone walls were largely fallen at the time of its discovery in 1983, but have been partially re-built using only original stones. Around the settlement are several magnificent Baobab trees, many of which are several thousand years old.
It is not hard to understand why this site was chosen. The ruins are located on the top of a hill, with almost 360 degree views of the surrounding area. Below, the riverbank provides fertile soil for growing crops. It is believed that the king and his court lived at the top, while his subjects lived down by the river. Not much is known about this civilisation, and archaeological work is ongoing, but one thing is for sure: this was once the settlement of one of the most powerful tribes of their time and you can literally feel their spirits here amongst the ancient trees and ruins.
As Thulamela is located within the Kruger National Park, wild animals roam the area and you can only visit accompanied by professional (and armed) rangers from the park authority.