The Spirit of Emakhosini - the KZN Battlefields region not only encompasses the greatest concentration of historical battle sites in South Africa, it also contains great Zulu heritage and cultural sites.
The Spirit of Emakhosini - the KZN Battlefields region not only encompasses the greatest concentration of historical battle sites in South Africa, it also contains great Zulu heritage and cultural sites.

The KZN Battlefields Route: everything you need to know to plan your adventure

By Brandstories Time of article published Sep 6, 2021

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The Battlefields Route is among the many attractions in KwaZulu-Natal that provide rich history and culture. It consists of 82 battlefields, museums, old fortifications and places of remembrance.

According to Pam McFadden, chairperson of the Battlefields Route, guests should spend a minimum of two nights in the area to fully immerse themselves in the route.

“The route is divided into different eras to make it easier to explore. Travellers can explore on their own, but we recommend going with a guide. There are so many remarkable stories and sites abounding the Battlefields that the guide brings to life,” said McFadden.

The Battlefields

Zulu shields at Ncome.

Travellers can learn about different parts of military history, including the Voortrekker-Zulu Wars, The Rebellion of Langalibelele in1873, The Anglo Zulu War in 1879, the Transvaal War of Independence from 1880-1881, The Zulu Civil War from 1883-1888, The South African / Anglo Boer War from 1899-1902 and the Bhambatha Rebellion.

“Not only does the Battlefields region encompass the greatest concentration of significant battles in South Africa, it also contains great Zulu heritage and cultural sites as well as San and cave dweller sites,” added McFadden. “It truly is an experience like no other.”

‘Kaal voet vrou’ memorial.

What to do

Besides exploring the Battlefields, travellers can add adventure, heritage, sport, game parks and food experiences to their itinerary.

“There are options to ride bicycles from battlefield to battlefield, motorbike and 4x4 tours, Zulu cultural tours, great local food experiences and hiking,” advised McFadden.

Nature lovers will appreciate the vast landscapes on offer. Tailor-made tours are also available for travellers who want a personalised experience away from the crowds.

Isandlwana and Zulu memorial.

Spioenkop trench; now a memorial grave.

Where to stay

There are plenty of accommodation options along the route, with prices to suit all budgets. These include village stays, lodges, hotels, bed and breakfast establishments and camping.

“In the last few months, we have seen many people travelling with caravans or motor homes. They usually spend around four to six weeks in the area. They want to explore, learn about the history and meet the locals without having time constraints. There are also a string of caravan parks set in beautiful country settings, with dams, fishing and small game part of the scenery and activities,” she explained.

Current accommodation listed on the Battlefields Route website includes Fugitives’ Drift Lodge, Isandlwana Lodge, Three Tree Hill, Battlefields Country Lodge and Sports Resort, Springbok Lodge, and Elandsheim Retreat.

Where to dine

The route offers a range of eateries to keep you fuelled up during your tours.

If you are travelling during the weekend, visit Miners Rest Restaurant at Talana Museum for their Sunday buffet, or enjoy a venison meal at Aloe in Colenso. Farm-to-table experiences are also popular for visitors, or you could pack a picnic to enjoy at designated spots along the route.

What would it cost?

McFadden said the cost for a hop-on guide (a guide that travels with guests) starts from R1 500. The price increases if the guide provides transport. For self-drivers, the cost will depend on your budget and the experiences you choose.

To download the Battlefields Route map for free, visit www.battlefieldsroute.co.za

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