Battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal
Did you know?
The Battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal include Isandlwana, which recorded the worst ever British defeat by locals.
The KwaZulu-Natal Battlefields are a beautiful yet eerie place. Soaked with the blood of thousands of British, Boer (Dutch-speaking farmers) and Zulu soldiers, the Battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal hold a deep-seated silence that speaks to the many lives lost here.
There are a number of self-drive routes through the historical battlefields in KwaZulu-Natal that take in the battle sites, historical buildings, museums, memorials and graveyards from a bygone era.
However, the KwaZulu-Natal Battlefields tours, undertaken by knowledgeable guides, are an absolute must. They recount, with chilling realism, the atmosphere of each battle, supported by in-depth information of the military strategies and tactics used. These tours allow visitors to immerse themselves in this turbulent history, which occurred in 3 key stages.
First the Boers and the Zulus clashed as the farmers made their way across the interior from the Cape. Then the British and the Zulus came to blows as the Empire fought for control of the region. Finally, the South African War between the Boers and the British took hold, adding to the bloodshed KwaZulu-Natal had already seen.
Two of the most famous and pivotal Anglo-Zulu battles took place at Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift and a visit to these sites should be a priority. You can also stop off at the Anglo-Boer War sites around Ladysmith, Colenso, Estcourt, Newcastle and Spioenkop, where some of the fiercest battles of this war occurred.
Aside from this history, the Battlefields also offer a number of other activities, including white-water rafting down the formidable Thukela River rapids and sailing at the Chelmsford Dam.
The Chelmsford Dam Nature Reserve, Weenen Nature Reserve, Spioenkop Dam Nature Reserve, Ntendeka Wilderness Area and Ithala Game Reserve provide an opportunity to explore this region's abundant birdlife and wildlife.
There are also a number of Zulu cultural villages in the area which display authentic Zulu traditions and serve traditional food.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal
Mobile: +27 (0)72 271 1766
How to get here
Fly from any of South Africa’s major cities to King Shaka International Airport. If you’re driving, from Johannesburg take the N3 to Estcourt from where you can explore the battlefields. From Cape Town, take the N2 motorway to Durban and then the N3 to Estcourt.
Best time to visit
The Battlefields are generally an all-year-round destination. The winter months (June to August) usually bring mild to warm days with cold nights.
Tours to do
Any of the Anglo-Zulu-Boer war routes include guided tours of the battle sites, monuments, memorials and graveyards; the arts and crafts centre at Rorke’s Drift; visits to Zulu cultural villages; Museum Village; Talana Museum; Ladysmith Siege Museum; Zululand Historical Museum; Vukani Museum.
What to eat
Authentic South African fare at sites throughout the region, traditional Zulu fare at the various cultural villages.
Regular battle re-enactments are held throughout the year – check with the local tourism authority for dates and venues.