Isandlwana Battlefield In South Africa

Battlefields Holidays

Isandlwana Battlefield

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The perfect safari holiday in The Battlefields

Discover the historic battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal

Deep in the KwaZulu-Natal interior and, as noted by local guides themselves, “not really on the way to anywhere”, the area broadly known as The Battlefields remains one of the most enduringly popular parts of South Africa. Particularly with British visitors who come to hear the tales of the Ango-Zulu and Boer wars.

The most visited area on a luxury Battlefields holiday is around Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift, which, on the 22nd January 1879 played host to arguably the most extraordinary day in the history of the British Army. That morning, whilst stationed on the hillside below the sphynx-shaped mountain known as Isandlwana, the Zulus inflicted the largest single defeat in Britain’s colonial history, with some 1300 red-shirted soldiers killed. But, as is often the case, a savage defeat was turned into glorious victory later that night as 150 British soldiers, many of whom were injured or sick, held off between 3,000 and 4,000 Zulu attackers at the mission station at nearby Rorke’s Drift. It is regarded as one of the most extraordinary shows of courage ever displayed in the British Army, with 11 Victoria Crosses being awarded in the aftermath. Come to hear these stories and more, including the desperate attempt of Lieutenants Melville and Coghill to save the Queen’s colour of their regiment and how the place where they were killed came to be known as the Fugitive’s Drift.

For those looking at a more in-depth insight into the area, visitors can also head to the site of the battle of Spioenkop, the most famous battle of the Boer War which took place on the 23rd and 24th January 1900. Eerily, the hill where the battle took place is often covered in a dense mist, as it was on the day of the battle, giving a feel of the conditions both sides would have experienced as they fought on the dry, rocky hillside.

For us, the way these stories are told by the guides are what really make this area so special. Day after day, these guides walk the battlefields, recounting the events of those terrible days and with each passing year they seem to become sharper and more theatrical. This is a truly remarkable experience and one not to be missed if you have even the most casual of interests in Britain’s colonial history.

A tailor made Battlefields tour is often combined with visits to the dramatic Drakensberg Mountains, the beautiful Midlands Meander, and also a safari in KwaZulu-Natal.

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