Bumbusi Ruin and Rock
Rock art.JPG

Bumbusi Ruin and Rock Engravings is a national monument in Zimbabwe.Built in the same style as Great Zimbabwe and distributed over a vast area, these sandstone walls date back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Due to its location deep in the bush of Hwange National Park in the northern Sinamatella area, this archaeological site has not yet been researched intensively. In 2008 the floors of 18 dwellings were carefully exposed, some of them had little cavities built into them for the well-known Zimbabwean game of Tsoro.

Why Visit

The National Monument of Bumbusi consists of two distinct parts, a dry-stone building dating from the eighteenth and nineteenth Centuries, now ruined, and a series of rock engravings, which are both described briefly.

In spite of the arduous journey necessary to get there, a visit to Bumbusi is very worthwhile, even if you are not interested in the archaeological sites as the surrounding scenery is amongst the most beautiful in the National Park.


When the Nguni, under Zwangendaba of the Khumalo clan, invaded the country of the Rozwi at the beginning of the nineteenth century, they put to death the Mambo, the great chief, at his fortress of Ntaba ka Mambo, but the Mambo's son, Zanke, escaped and fled westward. Zanke, with some of his father's people traveled until he came near Bumbusi and built this dry-stone fortress.

Bumbusi River flows through a valley about six miles long and half a mile wide. On the south side of the vlei are sandstone kopjes, on the northern side are basalt kopjes. Bumbusi was built on the southern kopjes, and slabs of sandstone were used to build its walls. The workmen chose an elevated site and leveled the ground, then built their walls round the outer edge. The walls were three to four feet thick and the interior of the walls was rammed full of rubble and small stones. No mortar was used, for the men were dry stone builders, and local tradition relates that there were three classes of men employed in the building. The trimmers used an adze to shape the stones, the carriers conveyed the stones from the trimmers to the builders, who placed the stones in position.

Inside the girdle wall numerous dividing walls partitioned the enclosure. Traces of circular wood and dagga huts within the thick stone walls may still be seen amongst the vegetation that has sprung up.

At the highest point of the fortified kopje a huge baobab tree casts a shade over Zanke's kraal—a specially fortified enclosure at the top of the hill, with space for one or two huts only. The sole approach to this fortress within a fortress was along a narrow passage enclosed by high walls, topped with small towers. The passage was wide enough for only one person to pass at a time.

How to get here

The Bumbusi National Monument is signposted from both Sinamatella and Robins Camp Zimbabwe Caves And Rock Paintings