What, Where and When on The
The picturesque landscapes of the Battlefields region with its rolling plains, rocky hills, undulating valleys and a concentration of historical battle sites is a reminder of the bloodiest battles in history that were fought between, Zulu, Brit, and Boer. This region however does not only play host to countless monuments and well-preserved artefacts; its hills and valleys are home to sporting and adventure activities, game reserves, arts and crafts, as well as golf courses and hot springs.
There are several self-drive Battlefield Routes that enable visitors to optimise their visit to this region’s historic towns and sites where they will encounter fabulous scenery, generous hospitality, and tales of great courage and endurance. The company of a knowledgeable, friendly, and accredited local guide will guarantee hour upon hour of captivating company. Be sure to include the Blood River Battlefield and the Ncome Zulu Cultural Museum, commemorating this 1838 battle between Voortrekker and Zulu, the Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift Battlefields to pay tribute to both the Zulu and British soldiers who lost their lives on that fateful day in 1879 during the Anglo Zulu War, and the Talana Battlefield and Museum in Dundee for an overview of the Anglo Boer War in 1899. If time allows, be sure to visit the memorial at Spion Kop, near Ladysmith, which commemorates the futile battle between British and Boer forces.
In addition to the must-see battle sites, the Battlefields region offers great bush and wildlife experiences too… from the romantic lodges of the Nambiti Conservancy near Ladysmith to the quant town of Utrecht – a town within a game park that is tucked beneath the Balele Mountains.
Visitors to the quaint little town may well encounter blesbuck, impala and even zebra that have been known to wander through the town. There are several guided walks and game drives through the reserve as well as bird watching, hiking, horse trails and trout fishing – both on dams and on the Bivane River. For a Big Five experience head to the Nambiti Game Reserve near Ladysmith. With its rolling grasslands and wetlands to riverine bush and thornveld, and 45 species of game, including cheetah, giraffe, hippo, hyena, impala, eland, and zebra in addition to the Big Five, it offers thrilling game viewing. Make memories as you and your significant other indulge in sundowners in the bush, delicious cuisine as well as sublime spa treatments at one of the Reserve’s luxurious lodges. In addition to fabulous game viewing and bird watching, Nambiti’s location is ideal for exploring the nearby Anglo-Boer War memorial sites, with gravesites of soldiers that had been killed in the Battle of Elandslaagte in October 1899 on the reserve itself.
There are numerous activities for the adventurous: including white-water rafting down the rapids of the mighty Thukela – or kloofing, if the river level is low, hiking or mountain-biking in the magnificent Drakensberg Mountains, or even horseback riding. Other more relaxed pursuits include a round of golf on one of the 9- or 18-hole courses in the region, or trout fishing in the cool waters near Newcastle. Don’t miss the chance of ‘ticking’ one of the nearly 400 species of bird that have been identified along the Amajuba Birding Meander – look out for Barn Swallows in the Newcastle area as they return to their nesting site between mid-October and mid-March. They swirl in great masses in the air above before swooping down and diving into the reeds as the sun goes down.
Did you know?
The isiZulu name for giraffe is indlulamithi, which literally means taller than the trees. It is the tallest animal in the world, attaining a height of about 5,5metres – its long neck accounting for much of this height. Despite this, its neck is too short to reach the ground so must spread its legs awkwardly or kneel to reach the ground for a drink of water. They spend most of their lives standing up and even sleep and give birth in a standing position.