Gain an insider’s perspective of the fierce clashes between the independent spirits of Zulu warriors, Boer pioneers and British soldiers in the 1800s. Disputes over territory between these groups resulted in some of the most glorious and goriest battles of South Africa’s history.
The towns and surrounding areas in the KwaZulu Natal battlefields region all have an intriguing story to tell you of battles for independence, the protection of territory and the pursuit of gold.
The Voortrekkers (pioneers) in the early 1800s looking to escape British rule in the Cape Colony headed across the Drakensberg Mountains into the hinterland of South Africa and there encountered the feared Zulu nation, many bloody battles were fought in order to secure or protect territory. The British followed the Boers resulting in their own skirmishes and famous battles with the Zulus along the way. By 1880 the British were faced by the Boer armies seeking to retain their measure of independence so hard fought for and the first of the Anglo-Boer wars commenced.
Famed military strategists have played out their role in history here from the might Zulu King, Shaka to the famed Boer general, Louis Botha. Winston Churchill, at the time a reporter for a London newspaper, took part in the siege of Ladysmith as did Mahatma Gandhi, a stretcher-bearer for the British troops dying as they struggled to cross the Tugela River against heavy fire from Boers in the hills on the other side.
The Battlefields Route in KwaZulu Natal stretches over undulating landscapes dotted with rocky outcrops, lone forts and small graveyards. Trained historians will bring to life the scents and sounds of these mighty clashes and give you an insider’s perspective of what it would have been like to be in the midst of it all.
Tours of the battlefields are not the only attraction to this area, it is renowned for its game farms and luxury African safaris as well as a range of adventures and activities that will have you experiencing a similar adrenaline rush to those of long ago warriors. There are loads of luxury game lodges and accommodation options all along the route. The thorny hills and sweeping grasslands fall into nature and game reserves, many of them home to Africa’s Big Five (lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard). Visit a traditional Zulu homestead to gain a glimpse into the rich Zulu culture and look out for San rock paintings and the remains of Iron Age settlements in the region.
Wind your way along the Battlefield Route of KwaZulu Natal through the towns of Colenso, Dundee, Estcourt, Glencoe, Ladysmith, Newcastle, Utrecht, Volksrust, Vryheid and Winterton. Whether you are looking to relive the great clashes on the KwaZulu Natal battlefields, have an African luxury safari adventure or explore the rivers and routes of the region, this region will not disappoint in its offerings. Contact Southern Africa Travel today.
Zulu warriors took up arms when the British invaded in the late 1800s and firmly routed the British forces at the Battle of Isandlwana, a first defeat by an indigenous army for the mighty British Empire. The Zulus equipped with mainly assegai iron spears and cowhide shields took on a much smaller British force, but one armed with rifles and artillery pieces. Today there are guided tours to the battlefields and both birding and cultural safaris on offer.
Visit the site of a small mission station used by the British in the 1880s as a hospital and munitions storage depot – Rourke’s Drift. More than 4 000 Zulu impis attacked the station that was bravely defended by a few hundred British soldiers. Their heroism and courage in the face of unbeatable odds was rewarded by the giving of more Victoria Crosses, 11 of them, than ever before for a single military engagement.
Set in a heritage park that forms part of the Talana battlefield, the museum’s displays include memorabilia and artefacts from the battles in the area as well as other facets of life in this area. Situated just outside of Dundee, this is a great destination to get a feel for early settler life and it is possible to take a self-guided trail on the Talana battlefield.
Have your fortune told
Enjoy the rare opportunity of visiting local Zulu families in their traditional homes. Learn more about the rich culture of the Zulu’s and if you are lucky the Sangoma (traditional healer) will throw his bones for you and tell you your fortune.
Take part in re-enacting the battles of KwaZulu Natal
The Dundee Die Hards regularly re-enact battle scenes and this is a great way to really immerse yourself in the heat of battle. They are the only permanent re-enactment team in South Africa and are always ready to take up arms as long as they have enough volunteers to play the part of Boers or Zulus!
7 Nights | 8 Days
Discover an eclectic mix of cultures in bustling Durban. Take a moving journey into the past on the historic hills and valleys of the battlefields and savour the incredible natural beauty of South Africa’s Zulu kingdom.
7 Nights | 8 Days
Discover the beauty of KwaZulu Natal, the sun-drenched beaches, the famous KwaZulu Natal battlefields and the magical African wilderness.
From $381 USD Per Person Sharing
Set in the heart of South Africa’s historic battlefields, the luxury Fugitive’s Drift Lodge is a great place from which to explore the rich history of this region with daily battlefield tours. Combined with excellent personalised service, spacious en-suite room and superb cuisine, this luxury lodge promised you an unforgettable stay.
From $221 USD Per Person Sharing
Isandlwana Lodge overlooks Mount Isandlwana with its panoramic views overlooking the magnificent Zululand plains and mountains. Decorated in an eclectic mix of traditional and modern styles the lodge is the ideal base from which to explore the surrounding battlefields and the site of the famous Anglo-Zulu war battle.
From $299 USD Per Person Sharing
If you are seeking a sophisticated and exclusive safari getaway, the luxury Nambiti Hills Private Lodge is an excellent choice with its panoramic views of the bush, rock pools, luxury rooms and Big Five game amongst a host of other wildlife. Great for families, groups of friends and those looking for a romantic bush escape.
Your local knowledge within South Africa was key—
Many Thanks our trip exceeded all expectations— Paul Krogh
Simply blown away how flawless this trip went— Mathias Hartmann, France