South Africa
uMzinyathi District Municipality

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5 travelers at this place

  • Day5

    Fugitives drift

    March 13, 2019 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    We concluded our visit to Cleopatra Mountain Farmhouse with another nice walk in the hills, then another fine dinner. By this time all our clothes had strangely shrunk and become a little tighter than before.

    We checked out in the morning and set off on a three and a half hour car trip to our next destination. Our driver was quite efficient but paid little heed to the numerous bumps and potholes on the road. We arrived somewhat shaken but not stirred just in time for lunch - just what we needed - more food!

    Our bungalow here is very nice with great views across the countryside. It’s all part of a game reserve, so antelope and zebras abound.
    In the afternoon we went off to Roark’s Drift where our guide took us through the battle step by step. It was very well done and he painted very realistic word pictures of the battle as it progressed. Well worthwhile a visit.
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  • Day7

    Fugitives drift 2

    March 15, 2019 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

    I think I understated our visit to Roarks Drift. The telling of the narrative took two hours and the battle was described in great detail as the drama shifted from room to room in the burning hospital. It was very vivid and real as the main buildings are still standing on the exact site that they were on the day of the battle.

    The next day we went off to the site of the Battle of Isandlwana where the Zulus won a major victory - since the British were armed with breach loading rifles and the Zulus had only spears, it was quite an accomplishment. The telling of the battle took about 4 hours as we moved from point to point around the site. The telling became quite emotional especially as our guide is a Zulu whose grandfather and great grandfather had both fought in the battle. We were also able to follow the path taken by the few Brits who managed to escape as they tried to cross the river at Fugitives Drift which is where we are staying. It’s a little difficult to fully appreciate the battle as today the place is covered in short grass and bushes,whereas at the time of the battle, the entire place was covered with elephant grass which was 6 ft high - it would have been extremely difficult to see your enemy at any great distance. It was a well worthwhile experience ( at least for Brian, Anne was seen to ‘ rest her eyes’ on occasion). In the pictures, the white cairns mark where the remains of the soldiers lie. It was a couple of months after the battle before the Brits could revisit the site, so all that remained were mere skeletons making the task of identifying the soldiers impossible.

    The memorial for the Zulus was very interesting. It is in the shape of a necklace and each section represents the different battalions who fought in the battle. The shape also shows the fighting formation of the Zulus, where the centre represents the head of a buffalo and the flanks represent the horns which try to encircle the foe. In the case of this battle the right horn did not close but turned away instead.

    The circular huts that you see in the pics are interesting. No one lives in these apparently - they are built for the spirits of the dead to live in.

    Our visit here has been very pleasant. The lodge is very comfortable and the staff could not be more helpful or cheerful.

    We leave here today to continue on to a wetland area to another lodge and more wildlife.
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  • Day27

    Fugititive's Drift

    January 26, 2016 in South Africa

    (South) Umzinyathi DC, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
    Tuesday, January 26, 2016

    The journey from Three Tree Hill takes approximately 3 hours, via Ladysmith. The last 30 miles are off road and the scenery increasingly dramatic. We arrived here at Fugitive's Drift in time for lunch, to discover a series of beautifully appointed cabins on the lip of the Buffalo River Gorge, within the Fugitive's Drift Game Reserve. This is the life and work of the Rattray family, in particular the late David and his wife Nicky. She and their family continue David's work of training, developing and rebuilding the relationship between English speaking people and the Zulu of Northern Kwa-Zulu Natal. David was a renowned authority and lecturer on the Anglo Zulu wars having considerable exposure to the area and its people since childhood.
    Close by the reserve lie the battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift and gradually over the years a ground breaking destination has been built up around tours of the area and its history, particularly military. Over 20,000 visitors a year wing their way to this remote part of South Africa for the experience and that is exactly what we have done ourselves.
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  • Day29

    Rorke's Drift

    January 28, 2016 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 5 °C

    North Uthungulu, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
    Thursday, January 28, 2016

    Later the same day, came the second devastating attack. The right horn of the Zulu battleplan, did not engage in the fighting at Isandlwana. I should explain that the Zulu like to attack in a buffalo formation, with a central head and chest and left and right horns to envelop the enemy preventing escape. In this case the right horn failed to close sufficiently, hence allowing the 55 to flee to the river. It should also be explained that in Zulu culture only single men are allowed to fight and until they have bathed their spear (assegai)) in enemy blood they are unable to marry. As a consequence this section of Zulus were champing at the bit to prove themselves and so their leader disobeyed the King's orders and crossed the Buffalo river with the intention of attacking the small hospital garrison remaining at Rorke's Drift.
    At the time, Rorke's Drift consisted of a small white painted missionary station and large separate church/store house and kraal, which Lord Chelmsford had requisitioned as a field hospital and storage for ammunition, large sacks of melee flour, the dreaded Army biscuits that were the soldiers staple food, ( cardboard consistency I understand, wet, dry, hot or cold!), bully beef, plus other essentials. As a consequence there were less than 100 fighting men, several of whom were already injured, some very seriously ill men, with two field officers, the engineer Lt Chard, Lt Bromhead and a very experienced commissariat of stores James Dalton, (who quickly helped develop a plan of defence). Perhaps understandably, none of the 55 escapees headed to the mission to help, but one did send a message to say that the Zulus were crossing the river and to be ready!!
    The men of Rorke's Drift faced an impossible position with 4500 Zulu warriors bearing down on them and somehow managed to erect defences around their tiny pocket battlefield using melee bags and biscuit tins to a height of 8ft. One thing they did have of course, was a massive store of ammunition, some 27,000 rounds. By the time the fighting was over, there were only 660 rounds left!
    We walked around the mission building that was rebuilt virtually identically afterwards, except there are now many more doors and windows. Even so, they are tiny, hot, claustrophobic rooms even without the stench of disease and death. It became all too apparent how impossible a trap the men inside were caught in as the battle progressed and the men's courage and resolve in the face of overwhelming odds reduced me to tears.
    The Zulu gathered on the hill behind the station late in the afternoon and began their battle preparation of war cries, foot stamping and shield thumping, working themselves into a frenzy. Colour Sergeant Bourne walked to every man with a hand on their shoulder exhorting them to 'Mark your man and wait until you see the whites of their eyes!' The Padre George Smith would not shoot being a man of God, but continually supplied the ammunition with the cry 'Don't swear boys, for Gods sake don't swear, just shoot!' Chard and Bromhead positioned themselves to lead their men and they waited. Eventually the Zulus threw themselves down the hill on to the barricades and were shot down by the score. The men of the 24th foot grimly defended their position as best they could. Lt Bromhead led bayonet charge after bayonet charge, but gradually the outer defences were breached and they were beaten back to the second line of defence and their battlefield was no bigger than a tennis court. Night fell quickly, as it does in these parts and now they could not even see their enemy. Enter stage left a little terrier called Pip. One of the fallen officers at Isandlwana had left him in the care of the surgeon Major Reynolds and he raced up and down the line barking at the next Zulu to hurl himself at the barricade. The line held. However, the Zulu had managed to set fire to the thatched roof of the mission and did finally break into the courtyard. The soldiers had to retreat to the small section around the kraal where a third line of defence had been constructed and carried on fighting. The hospital now stood alone with the exception of the few brave orderlies and the heroic cook who fought the Zulu from room to room dragging their charges through holes hacked in the wall to one corner of the building. Men died under horrific circumstances on both sides. The thatch was now on fire, so smoke was an additional factor, but at least there was a little light! A tiny window 8' off the ground was enlarged by Pte Hook (the cook) and two badly injured soldiers rushed from the kraal to catch the seriously ill soldiers as they were dropped from the window. They then carried them to the kraal time and time again under continual attack, before Hook the last man escaped the building. His fingers were now worn down to the bone, his finger tips never to recover. The fight retreated to the area around the kraal.
    The martini rifle is heavy with a kick like a mule and these small men (there was not one over 5'4") had been firing and reloading continuously for hours. The barrels were red hot and glowed in the dark according to Zulu reports and the men's hands and faces were burned with the recoil. They tore the pockets off their red tunics to enable them to continue firing and still the Zulu threw themselves forward. Bear in mind that the temperature was 45 degrees during the day and had dropped little at night and these men, in Army tradition, had donned their wool uniform to fight. There would have been no time for a gulp of water either if they wanted to survive. All this time their small wiry little surgeon was treating the wounded in the open against the wall of the storehouse, which afforded him a small degree of shelter. This is the first example of a surgeon operating on the battlefield and of course he had virtually no supplies.
    As dawn starts to break, all of a sudden the Zulu fall silent. Their scouts could see Lord Chelmsford's relief column approaching in the distance. Lt Chard orders his men to stop firing and they watch silently as the Zulu gather as many of their dead as they can and melt away into the hills, with respect on both sides. When Chelmsford's men reached the the defenders of Rorke's Drift these gallant soldiers had no voice left to cheer.
    There were 11 VCs awarded that day, the most ever in a single battle and that is of course not counting those of Lts Melville and Coghill. This was a fight to the death and it would do us good to reflect on the immense bravery on both sides.
    We were taken on this visit by Douglas Rattray, one of David's sons and I think it is fair to say he is clearly a chip off the old block. He led us around the battle site and made the actions of that day come alive almost 137 years later. It was an intensely emotional afternoon both for Doug and us, his horribly enthralled audience. It is virtually 9 years to the day since his father was murdered by thieves in front of his wife Nicky and we all had need of the handkerchieves by the end; the ladies openly and the gentleman more surreptitiously.
    In keeping with family tradition, Doug is a first class lecturer and human being.
    This is a visit and experience that will live with us for the rest of our lives.
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  • Day28

    Isandlwana

    January 27, 2016 in South Africa

    (South) Umzinyathi DC, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
    Wednesday, January 27, 2016

    We departed for Isandlwana at 7.30 sharp this morning. A wake up call and a pot of coffee was delivered to the cabin at 6am, which was a kind thought-I think!
    It was a beautiful sunny morning, as indeed it was on the morning of the 22nd January 1879 and that fatal confrontation between the men of the 24th Regiment of Foot and 20,000 Zulu warriors. The British central column under the command of Lord Chelmsford had crossed the Buffalo River into Zulu land at its natural fording point, Rorkes Drift (drift meaning exactly that, a river crossing), with the intention of meeting the Zulu in battle and subjugating their nation to British rule. This was something the proud Zulu were understandably opposed to. Lord Chelmsford had selected a vast and beautiful plain beneath the crag, that came to be known as Isandlwana, as his vantage point and his men, some 850 white tents, their wagons, horses, oxen and equipment were strewn about the camp, covering a considerable area. The Zulu proved elusive and on that fateful morning Lord Chelmsford took his senior officers and most of the troops into the adjoining valley looking for the Zulu army, leaving some 1400 men under the command of an inexperienced officer, Major Pullaine. Mistakes were made, no lookouts posted and by chance a small contingent of men discovered the might of the Zulu army in completely the opposite direction. They were settled in a gorge awaiting the opportunity to attack, once the anticipated eclipse of the moon had passed ( Day of the Dead Moon-a bad omen). The small group of soldiers made an attempt to attack before fleeing when faced with the enormity of the task. The 24th Regiment of Foot were ill prepared for the battle that then ensued. These men, drawn largely from South Wales, were a courageous, tight, fighting unit, but were completely overwhelmed by a massive attacking force of 6ft warriors, fleet of foot and carefully drilled on their plan of attack. The thundering of their drumming bare feet, thumping of their shields and bloodcurdling war cries must have struck terror into the men lined up to face them. It was total chaos, as is the way of war. Despite great valour and fierce resistance, the camp was overrun and the Zulu took no prisoners. They were fighting for their very identity and were and are an honourable people, completely sold down the river by the local representatives of the British Empire,
    1329 soldiers were cut down that day by a force of warriors 20,000 strong. Just 55 escaped down the Fugitive's trail back to the river which had to be crossed in full speight. The Zulu proved to be a formidable enemy. Many Zulu warriors had jogged bare footed 100kms to reach the battlefield, another 15 kms during the battle and at the end were still strong enough and fast enough to overtake and kill a British soldier on horseback. When it became clear that all was lost and the retreat sounded, only those on horseback stood any chance of avoiding the Zulu spears or assegai. One of Major Pullaine's final tasks was to call the adjutant Lt Meville to him and order him to save the Queen's colour, the most sacred regimental object. They saluted and Melville took the heavy 20' colour in its leather case and rode for the river. Miraculously, amidst the melee, he reached it and was assessing where to cross when a lone Zulu appeared from hiding and speared his horse from under him. The horse, Melville and the colour all ended up in the fast flowing Buffalo river, being buffeted from rock to rock. Somehow, Melville managed to hold on to the colour and as he approached a coffin shaped rock he espied a NCC officer marooned on its top. Melville yelled to him to catch hold of the colour, hoping he could pull him out, but the two of them plus the colour ended up in the water, under heavy attack from the Zulus on the bank. They were swept downstream and were in a desperate situation, when Lt Coghill spotted them from the Natal bank. Coghill was a superb horseman and despite a badly sprained knee, (he could not mount his horse unaided or walk) had forded the river and now without a thought for his personal safety, plunged his horse back into the river to help the two men floundering in the water, with the colour. As he reached them, his horse was shot between the eyes by a Zulu wielding a British Martini rifle. Somehow they managed to reach the Natal bank and what they thought was relative safety, but in the strong current the heavy colour was wrenched from their grasp and carried downstream. Exhausted they dragged themselves up the bank and Higginson the Natal officer, who was in the best state, said he would try to find some loose horses. In truth he abandoned Melville and Coghill to their fate. Melville managed to carry Coghill up the steep bank to a rocky outcrop where they rested until they were found by a group of Zulus skirmishing on the Natal bank. Despite a fierce fight, the two brave soldiers were killed. They were found four days later, by a party sent out from Rorke's Drift to try and retrieve the colour and were buried where they lay, on land now belonging to Fugitive's Drift. Some years later, they were awarded the first posthumous VCs by Edward V11, as his mother Queen Victoria would only present a VC to the living. The colour was indeed found stuck in the rocks further downstream and returned in great triumph to what was left of the regiment at Rorke's Drift.
    We were taken to Isandlwana by Mph'wa Ntabzi, a Zulu whose great grandfather and grandfather fought and fell in the battle and he told the story with emotion, detail and passion. He was a great friend of David Rattray and it was clearly very hard to do this in his place. Later in the afternoon we walked to the graves of Lts Melville and Coghill, accompanied by Andrew, a young officer from The Welsh Regiment, which the 24th foot has been incorporated into. They have a very strong relationship with Fugitive's Drift and regularly send out a representative to experience at first hand one of the regiment's most difficult campaigns. Andrew was able to add some interesting additional facts from the regimental archive and obviously to look at the actions that day from a professional soldier's point of view.
    I cannot tell you how powerful these visits were today and we still have Rorke's Drift to come tomorrow. I feel rung out emotionally, when I think what these young soldiers went through so many miles from home to die in the most horrific circumstances and with the utmost bravery.
    Imagine the reaction of Lord Chelmsford when he returned to Isandlwana some hours later. The decimated camp was knee deep in bodies of men and animals. There were no survivors beyond the 55 fugitives who made it across the Buffalo river back towards Rorke's Drift. The Zulu had removed their 3,500 dead on shields to their villages for burial and had ritually disembowelled their victims, as is their custom, to allow their spirit to escape and roam free...........RIP.
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  • Day17

    Isibindi Zulu Lodge

    November 27, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 18 °C

    Heute haben erstmal 5,5 Std im Auto gesessen, um zur nächsten Lodge zu kommen. Daher sind wir ziemlich platt. Da waren “Straßen“ auf dem Weg, die diesen Titel definitiv nicht verdienen. Riesen-Schlagloch-Schotterpisten trifft es eher.
    Dafür schlafen wir heute Nacht in einem schönen Beehive. Also einem Zuluhaus mit Runddach bzw. eigentlich ist das ganze Gebäude rund. Es ist super gemütlich. Gerade sitzen wir allerdings vorm Kamin in der Lounge. Es ist heute richtig kalt draußen. Während der Autofahrt war die kühlste Anzeige 13 °C, also fast 30 °C weniger als letzte Woche.
    Bevor es gleich zum Abendessen geht, bestimmen wir noch ein paar Tiere auf unseren Bildern. Hier liegen super Bücher dafür rum, mit denen man das gut machen kann.
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  • Day18

    Infinity Pool 2

    November 28, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ 🌙 9 °C

    ... oder auch “frieren muss manchmal sein“.
    Wir haben es getan... allerdings nur für's Photo. Ein solcher Pool muss einfach dokumentiert werden. Also sind wir heute morgen todesmutig in das verdammt kalte Wasser gegangen. Vielleicht konnte ihr unsere leichte Verkrampftheit erkennen, aber wir haben nicht sonderlich gequietscht (jedoch die Mitarbeiter dort vorgewarnt: Falls wir quietschen ist es kein Notfall, sondern nur die Kälte. ;) ) Wir standen bestmöglich auf den Zehenspitzen, um so wenig Wasserkontakt wie möglich zu haben. Aber die Aussicht war schön. ;) Andere Reisende, die selbst aus Südafrika kamen, haben das ganze nur mit “Crazy Europeans!“ kommentiert.Read more

  • Day18

    Game Drive, das letzte Mal

    November 28, 2017 in South Africa ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    Heute morgen haben wir zum letzten Mal für diesen Urlaub einen Game Drive gemacht. Tierisch war es hier im Reservat nicht so spannend. Es gab mal wieder ein paar Antilopen zu sehen. Aber wir haben einen kurzen Buschwalk zu einem Aussichtspunkt eingeschoben. Von dort aus hatten man die Aussicht über eine Bergkette in der es 1878 (ich bin mir nicht ganz sicher in welchem Jahr der damaligen 70er) die Engländer gegen die Zulus gekämpft haben. Unser Guide konnte uns genau erklären wann wer welchen “Schachzug“ vollzogen hat und wen von wo angegriffen hat. Wir hatten zum tollen Blick also auch noch eine Kulturtour.Read more

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uMzinyathi District Municipality