Found west of the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi reserve, and between the Black Imfolozi and Tugela rivers,Central Zululand was one of Africa’s most powerful regions in the 1820 and 1830s, ruled with relish by King Shaka—although not quite with the penchant for blood and bewitchery some portrayals would have you believe. In the 19th century’s second half, however a series of battles took place: first Zulus and Boers, then Zulus and the British, and finally Boers and Brits grappled for supremacy.
Today, those same Battlefields, the key majority confined to a small pocket near Dundee, are well worth a visit, and make for a fascinating, cultural alternative to KZN’s numerous natural attractions. The best way to experience them is with an excellent guide who can bring the memorials, burial cairns and eerie grasslands to haunting life.
The best sites are those with most significance or marvel attached. At Blood River, fewer than 600 Boors avenged the murder of leader by somehow defeating 12,000 Zulus. Isandlwana saw the British Empire receive a shattering Zulu blow, before at Rorke’s Drift, just 150 Brits heroically repelled a 4,000-strong Zulu army from their garrison, and crucially retained the land. Divided into eras, KZN Tourism’s official Battlefields Route covers all the main places.
The Battlefields fit in well between the Drakensberg Mountains and more easterly wildlife parks amid classic KZN touring itineraries, while one can also drive up from Durban. Base yourself at a hotel near the battle sites, and then drive from there, or book onto a tour and receive transfers. Most luxury hotels can arrange guides.
Best Time To Visit
As with KZN as a whole, November to February bring hot, humid days. April to September —when it’s dry, mild and sunny—is the optimum season. A bit cooler, spring and autumn are also work well, but generally Kwa Zulu Natal is good all year round.
A perfectly positioned private game lodge and colonial style hotel in the heart of The Battlefields.
This unique country-house hotel offers a range of luxury accommodation with gorgeous views of the stud farm.
Safari meets history at this intimate, 12-bed bolthole located in the heart of the Battlefields sites of Rorke’s Drift and Isandlwana and sitting scenically within its own private eco-reserve.
Set high up on a ridge overlooking the Hluhluwe Imfolozi Game Reserve with spectacular views and interesting game viewing.
The Best of South Africa Travel map displays the locations of the destinations and accommodation that we have selected and visited; for each item, hovering over or clicking the marker will display a short summary and photo of that place or hotel, and hotel pricing. Follow the links in the info box to the full page listing which has much more information.
Note that the online map offers both a satellite view (click satellite in the top right) and, for some locations, a street level view (Drag the person in the top left onto the map). These let you explore the country; and when you wish to explore in person, or if you have any questions about the places you see, give our staff a call, or request a quote. Our staff regularly visit the places and accommodation that we feature.
When you book a holiday with us we will provide full driving instructions for reaching your accommodation, where necessary; these can be used by yourself, or you could enjoy the luxury of a driver. Alternatively we will arrange private (car rather than coach) transfers for you; helicopter transfers are also possible for some destinations.
How to make the most of every moment?
Local knowledge makes a huge difference! When I asked Ash at Best of South Africa to give me some guidance on how to make the most of our trip to Cape Town and Franschhoek wine valley, I felt sure she would be able to send me in the right direction. It never occurred to me that she would organise our ...