Archaeology Kruger National Park – Excavated Ruins

In terms of archaeology Kruger National Park has over 300 sites! They range from the early Stone Age period and rock art to much more recent historical buildings.

Conservation of these sites is a must! They’re historically and culturally important to the area. There are currently 3 Kruger National Park archaeological sites open to the public:

Albasini Ruins

The Albasini ruins are the archaeological remains of a trading post that was built in 1845 at Magashula’s Kraal. A Portuguese trader called Joao Albasini set up the post. It was on a good trading route from the inland Lowveld of South Africa to the seaports in Mozambique. The ruins are at Phabeni Gate.

Some people say that the trading post was the first European settlement in the area. The threat of malaria was always present which held back development. To this day, malaria in Kruger National Park is a risk, but can be managed easily with medication.

Albasini traded:

  • Beads
  • Clothes
  • Knives
  • Mirrors

In exchange, he got ivory which he then took back to the seaports.

Albasini bought the land for his trading post from Kutswe, the chief of Magashula, for 22 cows. Albasini also set up two other trading posts in the area. One was at the foot of Manugukop and the other near Ship Mountain along Voortrekker Road. Both these places are near Pretoriuskop Rest Camp.

Despite the good trade, Albasini left the post in 1847 and moved to the growing settlements further west.


Masorini is a late Iron Age site on a hill, 12km from Phalaborwa Gate on the main road to Letaba Rest Camp.

Masorini Iron Age hilltop siteThe Ba-Phalaborwa people lived at Masorini in the 1800s. They developed an advanced mining industry. They smelted iron ore in dome-shaped clay furnaces and traded iron products.

Archaeological work helped people reconstruct the site to its former glory as faithfully as possible. Also, the local Ba-Phalaborwa people living on the borders of Kruger National Park have renovated the huts at the site.

There’s a museum at Masorini plus a tour to look at the huts and iron furnaces at the top of the hill.


Thulamela is an archaeological site about 500 years old. It’s in the very north of Kruger National Park in a region called Pafuri Triangle.

The site was built by people who lived in what is present day Zimbabwe who moved further south. The chief of the settlement lived in a palace surrounded by a wall on the top of a hill.

A variety of interesting archaeological items have been found at the ruins. They give some insight into how the people lived in Thulamela:

  • Clay pots
  • Clay spindles
  • Graves
  • Huts
  • Iron gong

With park caretakers investing in archaeology Kruger National Park is going to get a new museum at the Albasini ruins!