I'm a feet first traveller, I throw myself into the experience and like to feel fully immersed in a place. It's the way for me to really relax in the environment and learn about the beauty of where I am and what I am seeing and doing.
Once were warriors, battlefields of the Zulu and Brits
Written on: March 18, 2015
I visited in March 2015
Jonathon, the owner of Encompass Africa, is an absolute history buff and so is his father. So when the opportunity arose to spend time with the storytellers of Fugutive's Drive in South Africa, they jumped at the chance.
It's quite a difficult drive from Johannesburg with many road blocks, road works and hazards so we'd firstly recommend a private driver so you relax and enjoy the scenery on the way down. Once there, you feel like a lucky traveller amongst a fraternity of passionate historians and enthusiasts many with upper British accents!
Situated within the 2,000 hectare Fugitives Drift Game Reserve (plains game only not the big five) overlooking the battlefield of Isandlwana in central Kwa-Zulu Natal, is Fugitives Drift Lodge. Owned by the Rattray Family, pioneers of Heritage Tourism in South Africa, the Lodge is set on the site of the original homestead, with views over the Buffalo River Valley Gorge.
This place certainly retains its colonial heritage style throughout. There are eight luxury free-standing cottages and a two bedroom annex cottage. They are spacious with wooden finishes, ensuite bathrooms, separate bath and shower, king or twin beds and a private verandah affording views over the plains flanking the Buffalo River Gorge. The cottages and main lodge are set in a beautiful, shady, well established garden. The dining room and lounge house a remarkable collection of memorabilia from the Zulu War and the lads got lost here for hours admiring the items. And then they discovered the Harford Library, built within the grounds, with magnificent views over the Buffalo River Gorge... but the view meant nothing when the lads saw the inside contents. Historical collection of books and belongings where again they lost themselves in the world of the zulu and British back in the day.
We often have guests intrigued in the history but they don't want to justify a long stay. Having experienced it first hand, Jonathon said it was such an emotional experience he felt moved and exhausted after each storytelling session and tour.
The tours are conducted daily and the most significant sites are Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift. Even if one person is a history buff and the other not, there are great activities in the surrounding area for non history lovers like tours to Mangeni Falls, Masondo and Blood River, fishing, horse riding, mountain biking and the Fugitives Trail Hike.
Photos don't do justice for the experience, other than significant piles of white rocks and crosses scattered about the battlefields... it is about the immersive experience, the passionate storytelling that bring the history to life and the bravery of both Zulu and British warriors and soldiers.
May their memory live on through the Rattray family and their fantastic team of staff. May you enjoy the magic of the experience. Just call and chat with Jonathon... have a cup of tea ready because it could be a long chat.