The KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa is a truly spectacular region offering incredible diversity across its landscape, from private wildlife reserves and the magnificent northern Drakensberg Mountain range, to wild rugged coastlines.
It also holds an immense amount of the country’s history and including a trip to the Battlefields in your itinerary will surely induce the formation of hundreds of goose bumps and awe, where there is a story behind every hillside waiting to be told.
There are a handful of truly unique establishments scattered amongst the Battlefield areas which are run by incredibly passionate people and fascinating guides, who have converted their very own farmsteads into delightful retreats or where luxurious guest lodges are now living artefacts filled with paraphernalia and historical pieces from the Anglo Boer and Anglo Zulu wars.
Seated at the top of a hill surrounded with the most unbelievable 360 degree views, a landscape of white stones that show where men once lay, paints a surreal picture as you listen to the explicit details and heart wrenching retellings of the most famous battle that has taken place between the Boer and British - the Battle of Spionkop.
Hear the vivid accounts of Churchill’s capture and the Battle of Colenso. Watch the guides enter into an almost trance like state as they place themselves back in time, whilst relaying every minute detail of the battle scenes. Marvel at the riveting re-enacting of the Anglo Zulu war at Rorkes Drift and Fugitives Drift, as well as the bloody Battle of Isandlwana.
Nothing prepares you for the insights that are gained after visiting these areas and learning exactly what happened here. It reinforces just how many layers there are to South Africa as a country and assists one to better understand, with a degree of high emotion, the complexity of cultures in its modern day society.
What is wonderful about the Battlefields experience is that the locations of many of these lodges are submerged in nature. This means that often the areas are home to an enormous variety of birdlife and there are excursions such as nature walks on offer in addition to the battlefield tours.
Some properties neighbour small private wildlife reserves so a spot of rhino tracking at sunrise before your afternoon sunset tour with a gin and tonic is the perfect way to spend a day.
Most are superb with families and take into account the entertainment factor for children and have therefore formulated a special children’s programme. Others offer a night’s sleep out in the Drakensburg and also the chance to ride bicycles or horses around some of the reserves themselves.
Given that these establishments are mostly fully sustainable where meal times are a simply superb affair with a huge focus on fresh produce and where engaging discussions with experts and other interested guests take place, it isn’t any wonder that these are small pieces of paradise for the keen historian or family with an interest in South African history.
By Marcela Kunova - 20th April 2017
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