The area consists of mixed woodland dominated by bushwillows and acacias, with swathes of open grassland. The grazing is mixed, with pockets of sweetveld and sourveld. The game-carrying capacity in this area is lower than the plains to the east because the grasses are less nutritious. The sweeter grass is to be found on the lower contours and so animals are most likely to be seen along the drainage lines and watercourses of this gentle rolling landscape.
The three Mluwati Concession camps are:
Imbali Safari Lodge
Imbali was the original lodge in the Mluwati Concession. It is unashamedly upmarket, consisting of 12 luxury suites overlooking the N’waswitsontso River. The camp is built close to an excavated hunter-gatherer camp dating back several hundred years. Iron-Age artifacts found in the area have been built into special display units at Imbali, which is an aesthetic blend of stone and wood.
Hamilton’s Tented Camp
Hamilton’s probably rivals Singita Lebombo as the most romantic place to stay in Kruger. It has six intimate luxury “tents” overlooking the N’waswitsontso Dam. Each “tent” has its own plunge pool, outdoor shower and private verandah. The aesthetic in the wood-and-canvas décor of the public area is early 20th-century safari. The camp is unfenced, and animals wander freely through it.
Hoyo Hoyo Tsonga Village
Hoyo Hoyo is the most interesting architectural experience in the Park, offering a combination of traditional African culture with modern-day safaris. The earthy style of the camp is a blend of old and new. Hoyo Hoyo is a contemporary interpretation of a traditional Tsonga/Shangaan village. There are six luxury African fantasy huts overlooking the Mluwati River, each fitted with sophisticated modern finishings. The ethnic plushness of Hoyo Hoyo is a radically different offering from the traditional Kruger experience and will appeal to the more sophisticated and well-heeled.
None of the Mluwati Concession camps accept children under eight as guests unless the entire camp is booked out by a single party.
Somewhere in central Kruger lies an abandoned fortune of diamonds, gold and coins. The secret of its whereabouts was taken to the grave by a former Anglo-Boer War soldier whose initial discovery of the treasure eventually led him to the gallows. The story has its roots in the late 19th century on the Mozambican side of the Lebombo mountains. There, a chief called Qugunyan built up a substantial fortune by charging returning Shangaan mine workers a toll for crossing his land.
At some point Qugunyan fell out with the Portuguese colonial authorities who dispatched an expedition to bring him to book. Qugunyan got wind of the plan and, entrusting his wives with his considerable assets, despatched them to stay with allies in the Pilgrim’s Rest area. Qununyan died in battle and his wives never made it across the savanna grassland of what is today central Kruger.
Then in November 1900, during the Anglo-Boer War, a grisly discovery was made in the thick bush near the Olifants River. Writer Rob Marsh in South Africa Weird and Wonderful records how two Boer sympathisers riding through the bush to join Ben Viljoen’s commando at the Crocodile River, came across a large collection of human remains. Among the sun-bleached bones were a number of rawhide bags full of diamonds, gold dust and an assortment of coins.
The two men, Phillipus Swarts and a man named Jones, buried the treasure near the confluence of the Olifants and Blyde rivers, and went on to war. Jones was killed during the battle of Renosterkop and Swarts was captured and sent to St Helena as a prisoner of war.
After the hostilities ended in 1902, Swarts returned to Johannesburg where he enlisted the help of one Van Niekerk. Van Niekerk financed an expedition to the lowveld to search for the hidden cache and the two men set off in 1903. Swarts returned alone several months later saying that they had not been able to find the treasure and that Van Niekerk had disappeared in the bush.
But, in a strange twist of fate several months later, Van Niekerk’s widow recognised her husband’s ring on the finger of one of Swarts’s girlfriends, and reported it to the police. The police set up a search party and found Van Niekerk’s skeleton in the bush near the Olifants River with a bullet in the back of his skull. They charged Swarts with murder and he was found guilty and sentenced to death.
Apparently, he paid his lawyer with coins encrusted with soil and, before facing the hangman, told the investigating officer that the treasure was hidden in the bush to keep it out of the hands of the “damned British”. Whether the police ever tried to find the treasure is not recorded, and to this date, the whereabouts of Qugunyan’s fortune remains a mystery.