The road from Empangeni on the coast up into the hills is very beautiful. It winds through sugar cane fields that give way to orange groves and banana plantations as the landscape becomes increasingly hilly. These are the fertile hills of Zululand, traditional homeland of the Zulu people. The word Zulu means ‘heaven’ and Zululand, or KwaZulu is ‘the place of heaven’. Although famous battlefields bear witness to historic conflicts, this is peaceful farming country where people still enjoy a rich culture and live pretty much as they have always done.
More than a century after the events, 20,000 British people still visit the battlefields every year! This is about much more than a battle.
These events are imprinted on the psyche of both the British and the Zulu. These hills witnessed the first major military defeat inflicted upon the forces of the British Empire by colonised peoples - before the tables turned so that, for over a century, a proud warrior people was reduced to a nation of miners and garden boys.
A visit to the battlefields is one of the most fascinating things you can do in South Africa and, unless that is your thing, it has nothing to do with military history. It is about the relationships between the British crown and its subjects, and between white man and Zulu. It is about Zulu society, and about what happened when people of the Victorian age were tested to extremes.
The Battlefield Tours have evolved out of the unique historical re-telling developed by the late David Rattray at Fugitives Drift, his protégé Rob Gerrard, guide at Isandlwana Lodge, Rob Caskie and a small group of other inspired guides who lead tours out of these lodges. Nothing can prepare you for the impact of standing at Rorke’s Drift at sunset and listening to one of these great raconteur-historians re-tell the events of that heroic night, when a force of around a hundred British soldiers warded off an attack by 4000 Zulu warriors.
See these sample itineraries that include Battlefield Tours:
KwaZulu Natal self-drive tour
KwaZulu Natal deluxe self-drive holiday
Ring on 020 76661250, or email us, if you'd like to talk one-to-one about holidays in KwaZulu Natal and South Africa in general.