[ Note to historians: This is not an academic or scientific work. The text and pictures are in support of a fictional account of the adventures of Coenraad de Buys. ]

Giant baobab trees dot the landscape and elephant still feel some attraction to the "Royal Hill". Almost every morning a few elephant can be seen browsing in the foothills of Mapungubwe. This "Forbidden Hill" has a similar influence on humans. Following the secret path and reaching the top at first light, is an eerie feeling that gave me goose-bumps. I couldn't help thinking about the young maidens that must have walked this way many centuries ago.

The Mapungubwe Kingdom features prominently in a historic novel about Coenraad de Buys and his search for the African cities of gold. King Solomon's Mines, the Queen of Sheba and their elusive land of Ophir with its riches, forms the mystery in his historic quest.

If you are on top of this mysterious hill very early in the morning, it is an extraordinary feeling. The view and the feeling of being watched gives you goose bumps but for very different reasons!

The whole area teems with legends and stories some of them dating back thousands of years. Bushmen hunters left their first rock art pictures all over the valley, the most beautiful at Kaggen Koppie.

The Mapungubwe Song:

"For the offering of rain, clay pots are filled with sorghum.
And if it does not rain?

Then the last offering is a 10-year-old child.
When the jackal begins to call 'Ma-pun-gub-we, ma-pun-gub-we', meaning,
'many children are dead', it is the season of drought
Many people gather, and call upon the Rainmaker,
Then clay pots are filled with sorghum
And young women carry these pots to the summit of the hill,
Via the secret ladder

They place the pots down upon the ground,

And then the snake comes to bite them,

Some survive, some do not

Singing and dancing takes place, and a ten-day old goat is killed,
Cremated, and placed in a clay pot,
Then, the young girls put more pots down on the ground,

And the vultures come to peck their eyes out,

Then there are festivities, dancing, eating and drinking,

And the witchdoctor comes to sniff out the young boy of ten years old
He is burnt, and placed in a pot,
Once again, the young girls carry the pots up the hill.

Picture Gallery