October 2021

The road names of Singita Kruger National Park


The road names of Singita Kruger National Park

By looking at and understanding the meaning of the road names of our concession, you can get an idea of the special topographical features, species of animals or trees we often see in the area, and also some interesting history.

N’wanetsi is the most driven road as it’s the main road heading north into the majority of the concession from our two lodges, Lebombo and Sweni, and gets its name from the river with the same name that it runs along for its entire course. The name ‘N’wanetsi’ is from the Xitsonga language and the meaning is nowadays obscure, some claiming it’s derived from ‘n’wetsi-n’wetsi’, meaning ‘shimmering’. There are, as far as I have seen, no less than three other rivers in South Africa and one in Zimbabwe bearing the same name, all spelt slightly different.

Nyokeni means place of the snake and this road winds through a beautiful rocky euphorbia-clad valley, a perfect place for snakes to bask in the sun.

Msimbitsana is named after the drainage-line (rivulets draining water from high areas into larger rivers) it runs along which is from the Xitsonga word for the tree lavender fever berry (Croton gratissimus), which grows in abundance on the rocky ledges.

Three of the mountain passes are Peladyambu (sunset), Name Badge Hill (a guide once dropped his name badge here) and Ngumi (klipspringer).
Nkayanini means place of the knob-thorns (Senegalia nigrescens), Mhlanguleni place of the magic guarri’s (Euclea divinorum), and Ntoma means jackalberry (Diospyros mespiliformis).

Mangwa means zebra as this road is on the Lebombo plains where we often, especially in winter, see large herds of these animals given the good grazing, open terrain and close proximity to Gudzani Dam where there is often still water deep into the dry winter.

A very interesting road is Sisal Line, where in the middle 1970’s Sakkie Schoeman of the Kruger National Park’s technical department had - under the orders of a senior officer of the SADF (South African Defence Force) – created a sisal buffer on the entire eastern boundary of the Kruger National Park. At the time South Africa and Mozambique were unfriendly neighbours with opposing political ideas and the rows of spiny sisal plants were to form a barrier in the case of an invasion by MK freedom fighters (uMkhonto we Sizwe, the military wing of the African National Congress, South Africa’s current ruling party since independence). Sakkie personally harvested about five million sisal plants from an area on the western boundary of the park to plant 13 rows, 0,75 m apart for 320 km. The sisal line was a complete failure as the plants, in spite of their spiny nature, were very sought after by some animals, especially elephants and porcupine, and were fed on with relish and eventually disappeared.

The history of a place always make you appreciate the environment you find yourself in just that little bit more. Stories are to be found everywhere, even and especially long after the people they involved have disappeared.