Isandlwana on horseback
Did you know?
The Battle of Isandlwana is recognised as the British Army's worst-ever defeat by native forces.
Isandlwana on horseback is a moving, if not fascinating, experience. Riding through the quiet grasslands, you get a real sense of the fight that ensued here more than 130 years ago when the British Army clashed with Zulu impis in what was to become known as the Battle of Isandlwana.
Recognised as one of the most famous KwaZulu Natal battlefields, Isandlwana was the site of the first major encounter between these two factions and a turning point in the Anglo-Zulu War, as the British were hopelessly defeated.
While walking tours of the Battlefields have long been available, following the trails of these fated soldiers on horseback is a relatively new experience and an exciting way to immerse yourself in the tales of these bloody historical battles.
Two operators offering the opportunity to see Isandlwana on horseback are Rorke's Drift Lodge and Isandlwana Lodge, both located in the heart of the Battlefields region.
The trails offered are guided by experienced riders, well-versed in the history of Isandlwana, and are suitable for both novice and expert riders. They traditionally leave the lodges in the morning, crossing the vast Zululand plains and Buffalo River, before stopping at the foot of Isandlwana hill, where memorials commemorate the lives that were lost on both sides. Picnic lunches are normally served once there, giving visitors the chance to hear stories of the battle, before returning to the lodge before sundown.
The trails are unique in that they literally follow the paths the mounted British soldiers would have taken in advancing on Isandlwana, adding an air of authenticity to the experience. Enjoy the wind in your hair, the endless landscape and the sense of peace that has now settled on this once turbulent site.
Whether you're a history buff, keen horse-rider or simply a visitor looking for a new way to explore South African history, make sure you sign up for a ride to Isandlwana next time you visit the Battlefields.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)34 271 8301
Rorke's Drift Lodge:
Tel: +27 (0)34 642 1805
How to get here
Fly direct from any major city to Durban. From Durban take the N3 to Mooi River/ Ladysmith. At Ladysmith, take the route towards Dundee. Drive through Dundee and then follow the signs to Isandlwana. If you’re driving, from Johannesburg take the N3 to Ladysmith, and from Cape Town, take the N2 to Durban, before picking up the route above.
Best time to visit
Horseback tours of Isandlwana are offered throughout the year. Winter (June – August) days are mild, but nights can get very cold.
Around the area
Any of the Anglo-Zulu-Boer war routes, including 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.
Regular battle re-enactments are held throughout the year – check with the local tourism authority for dates and venues.