The Battlefields Route
Did you know?
Over 20 000 British troops were killed during the Anglo-Boer War.
The Anglo-Boer War Museum in Bloemfontein is a great place to start your journey along the Free State province's Battlefields Route. Here, travellers with a penchant for history will be able to get an overview of the South African War (previously known as the Anglo-Boer War) and view hundreds of artefacts that were collected during this turbulent time.
The South African War officially began on October 11, 1899, and lasted until May in 1902. After the Boers initially completed a series of successful battles in KwaZulu-Natal, the British called in a staggering amount of reinforcements and laid siege to various Boer strongholds in the Free State.
The battles fought in the Free State throughout 1900 played a significant role in shaping the remainder of the war.
Those who wish to visit the battlefields chronologically according to history, should do so in the following order: Paardeberg; Poplar Grove; Driefontein; Sannaspos; Mostertshoek; Jammerbergdrift; Sand River; Bidulphsberg; Yeomanry Hill; Roodewal; Surrender Hill; Doornkraal; and Groenkop.
The heavily outnumbered Boers may have lost the South African War, but they certainly didn't go down without a fight. The locals boasted some of the finest marksmen in wartime history and the massive number of British casualties during the battles that took place in the Free State is testament to this.
At the battle of Mostertshoek on April 3 and 4, 1900, for example, the Boers killed 591 British troops while losing only six of their own.
Museums, statues, monuments and graves from the war serve as a reminder of the fierce fighting that took place in the battle for territory. Visiting the various battlefields will give history buffs a greater understanding of how difficult the average day would have been for soldiers on both sides.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Anglo-Boer War Museum
Monument Road, Bloemfontein
Tel: +27 (0)51 447 3447
How to get here
It's best to start your tour of the Battlefields Route in Bloemfontein, which is served by regular flights from Johannesburg, Durban, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
Organised tours of the Battlefield Route are available. However, hiring your own vehicle would allow you to explore at your own pace.
Length of stay
You could spend anything from three days to two weeks exploring the various battlefields, depending on how seriously you take your wartime history.
What to pack
Comfortable walking shoes are recommended for traipsing across the battlefields. And always bring plenty of sunscreen and a hat. A good map of the Free State province will make navigation a lot easier for those using their own transport.
Where to stay
Bloemfontein, which has plenty of accommodation options available, is the best base from which to explore the Battlefields Route.