Know Your Park
Campbell Hut... Earliest Accommodation in the Park
The first motorist entered the Kruger National Park in 1927. Visitors paid £1 entrance fee and that year the Park realised a full £3. There were no huts, only a thorn bush enclosure, built by the ranger, where visitors could camp.
In 1927, WAC Campbell, a founder member of the National Parks Board, donated £150 for the construction of a 'show' hut, which has been preserved and can still be viewed in Skukuza today.
Campbell was from Mount Edgecomb in Natal and an earlier owner of the farm Mala Mala, bordering the Park. The hut was built according to a design proposed by Paul Selby, an American building engineer, who had also served on the Parks Board.
According to the museum information, his design entailed the use of a semicircular mould into which scrap metal and cables were placed vertically. The ends protruding at the top were gathered to form the nock of the conical roof that was supported by a single pole.
Concrete was then poured into the mould. The huts had concrete floors and were all thatched. Dr U de V Pienaar noted in his 'Neem uit die Verlede' that the hut had a ventilation opening between the wall and roof and there were no windows. The door featured a single hole through which people could scan the area for any unwanted visitors before venturing outside.
At the time there were no fences around the camps. However, visitors complained about the dark interior, mosquitoes entering through the open area and people peeping inside through the door opening. In 1931, builders added windows to all the huts. The original beds, still seen today, were built by the staff in 1930, as there were no funds to buy furniture.
The beds were strung with wildebeest riempies. Sabi Bridge, as Skukuza was earlier known, was established as a rest camp in 1929 and known as "The Reserve". By December 1929, there were two six-metre and ten four-metre "Campbell" huts, but no facilities and the camp was still unfenced.
The name changed to Skukuza, meaning 'he who sweeps clean' after the first warden of Kruger, James Stevenson-Hamilton in 1932. During this time the camp was developed to cater for a growing number of visitors.
Huts, bathrooms, a shop and dining hall were all added, as well as petrol pumps and a breakdown service. In 1935 the available accommodation in Skukuza could house 250 people in the huts and 600 people in tents.