Limpopo Ramble 2022: The Kingdom of Mapungubwe

Mapungubwe Hill and the valleys around it, today part of the Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site, was the seat of a powerful African Kingdom that ruled between 1,100 and 700 years ago. Mapungubwe Hill is by far South Africa’s most important iron age archeological site and can be visited on guided tours.

The Interpretive Centre at Mapungubwe, itself an award-winning architectural marvel, provides a fascinating glimpse into the daily lives of the people who lived in the Kingdom of Mapungubwe. Royalty ruled from atop the hill, with their subjects living below. The Kingdom’s riches were based on gold and ivory, traded with cultures from as far afield as Persia and China through a trade route leading through the east coast of Africa. Mapungubwe means  “Place where rock turns into liquid” in reference to the smelting of gold practiced by the country’s citizens.

The rich archeological treasures of Mapungubwe were re-discovered in 1933. Having been recognised formally as a National Monument in 1984, the Mapungubwe Cultural Landscape was inscribed as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2003.

24 thoughts on “Limpopo Ramble 2022: The Kingdom of Mapungubwe

  1. Pingback: Mapungubwe National Park | de Wets Wild

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      The thinking is actually that the people of Mapungubwe were the forebears of those who were responsible for Great Zimbabwe. Amazing to think that such a rich, influential and powerful dynasty once existed on a continent so often regarded as “dark”!


      1. Tish Farrell

        Absolutely agree with your last sentence, Dries. So much of Africa’s history is ‘lost’ or ignored by the outside world. Especially that some of the continent’s kingdoms and empires (e.g Mali) were in many ways far more culturally advanced in the early medieval period than much of Europe.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      The centre blends beautifully with its surroundings, Tracy. Really deserving of the accolades it received.
      The floodplain of the Limpopo is actually quite fertile. Outside the Park there are large fruit and cotton farms benefitting from the river’s flow.

      Liked by 1 person


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