Battlefields

West of Zululand in the province of Kwa-Zulu Natal lays an area that was the scene of many a bloody battle in the history of South Africa. Known as collectively as the Battlefields, this area borders on the Drakensberg mountains and has quite a few attractions for those interested in the history of South Africa.

For the ultimate experience, many tour operators will suggest that visitors follow the Battlefields Route through the area. This route is not official, but it is one of the best ways to see all the sites of the area and everything that is associated with the area as well. While the entire area is littered with all manner of battlefields from history, there are three major battlefields that are often considered to be 'must sees'.

The Red Soldier refers to the battlefield where the British were defeated at Isandlwana on 22 January 1879. It is also the site of another heroic stand by soldiers near Rorke's Drift the same day, where a small group of soldiers held out against an attack for a two days and night before reinforcements arrived to relieve their beleaguered forces.

The Route Due Prince Imperial Louis Napolean is a long route that visitors can follow on their own or with a tour group. The route follows the path followed by a royal that travelled to South Africa to fight in the war. The route starts in Pietermaritzburg, though some start in Durban. From there the road leads to Greytown and then to Utrecht via the scenic town of Dundee. From Utrecht, the road travels to Vryheid where he was stationed. It crosses the Blood River and on to Nquto and Nondweni along the Babanango/Vryheid road. The route ends at the monument in the Tshotshosi Valley where a cross was erected in his honour.

This Battlefield route is one of the most scenic and it passes quite a few other monuments and battlefields along the way. Accommodation is easy to find along the way and the small towns offer all manner of interesting diversions from museums to re-enactments of famous battles - if your timing is right.

The memorial at Rorke's Drift serves as stark reminder
of a difficult history

The First Battles Route in the Battlefields are where much of South African War was fought in Northern Natal. The first amongst them is at Talana. This was the first battle fought in the area and the first time where the British wore khaki into battle. Elandslaagte is the sight where forces were forced to fight in a raging thunderstorm and where confusion reigned much of the day. Last is the infamous Ladysmith. The siege of this town made the war in South Africa front page news across the globe and drew international attention. The town of Ladysmith itself is a historical wonder with beautiful museums and original buildings form the time of the siege.

There are many more monuments and museums scattered across the Battlefields area. No tour group can visit them all and prefer to visit the larger ones where museums are common. Many of the sites have self-guided tours that follow routes across the battlefield. The battlefields are a great place to take matters into your own hands and to explore history on your own.

West of Zululand in the province of Kwa-Zulue Natal lays an area that was the scene of many a bloody battle in the history of South Africa. Known as collectively as the Battlefields, this area borders on the Drakensberg mountains and has quite a few attractions for those interested in the history of South Africa.

For the ultimate experience, many tour operators will suggest that visitors follow the Battlefields Route through the area. This route is not official, but it is one of the best ways to see all the sites of the area and everything that is associated with the area as well. While the entire area is littered with all manner of battlefields from history, there are three major battlefields that are often considered to be 'must sees'.

The Red Soldier refers to the battlefield where the British were defeated at Isandlwana on 22 January 1879. It is also the site of another heroic stand by soldiers near Rorke's Drift the same day, where a small group of soldiers held out against an attack for a two days and night before reinforcements arrived to relieve their beleaguered forces.

The Route Due Prince Imperial Louis Napolean is a long route that visitors can follow on their own or with a tour group. The route follows the path followed by a royal that travelled to South Africa to fight in the war. The route starts in Pietermaritzburg, though some start in Durban. From there the road leads to Greytown and then to Utrecht via the scenic town of Dundee. From Utrecht, the road travels to Vryheid where he was stationed. It crosses the Blood River and on to Nquto and Nondweni along the Babanango/Vryheid road. The route ends at the monument in the Tshotshosi Valley where a cross was erected in his honour.

This Battlefield route is one of the most scenic and it passes quite a few other monuments and battlefields along the way. Accommodation is easy to find along the way and the small towns offer all manner of interesting diversions from museums to re-enactments of famous battles - if your timing is right.

The First Battles Route in the Battlefields are where much of South African War was fought in Northern Natal. The first amongst them is at Talana. This was the first battle fought in the area and the first time where the British wore khaki into battle. Elandslaagte is the sight where forces were forced to fight in a raging thunderstorm and where confusion reigned much of the day. Last is the infamous Ladysmith. The siege of this town made the war in South Africa front page news across the globe and drew international attention. The town of Ladysmith itself is a historical wonder with beautiful museums and original buildings form the time of the siege.

There are many more monuments and museums scattered across the Battlefields area. No tour group can visit them all and prefer to visit the larger ones where museums are common. Many of the sites have self-guided tours that follow routes across the battlefield. The battlefields are a great place to take matters into your own hands and to explore history on your own.

 

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