Independent, impartial reviews of Battlefields from SafariNow users
Kwa Zulu Natal- South Africa - a province of excitement and mystery, where the past meets the present in a destination of astonishing natural beauty-a melting pot of traditional and western culture and Battlefields in abundance.
From the ashes of the tragedy of the South African War of 1899-1902, fought between the people of South Africa and Britain and the allied men from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, who joined this war, the first time that troops from overseas fought under their national banner.
The Boers (The Citizen’s Army), whose tactics and weaponry were the accepted view of warfare, perfected the art of guerrilla war against their enemy. Not only were these two opponents to suffer, but also the Nguni people and Indians, history has revealed the part that of thousands of indigenous South Africans and Asians, who played supporting roles for both sides – hence the title The South African War.
Specialist South African War raconteur, Raymond Heron has a fascinating presentation on the affects, which this war had on the History for the people of South Africa and Britain. Half a million troops took part, of which 22 000 were to die, 16 000 from disease The long history of conflict in Southern Africa going back to 1652 when the Dutch East India Company established a supply station at the Cape, had been a cause of contention between the British and the descendants of the Dutch settlers, Afrikaaners or Boers as they were referred to – providing an understanding of the History of the South African people and reason why Britain played such a huge roll in South African History.By taking people through the watershed years for South Africa, those years that had the greatest effect in shaping the country, one begins to understand the fundamentals of our history and the amazing parallels this war has in common with the War in Iraq. It is not possible to understand modern day South Africa, without examining her past.
The most famous - or infamous battle of the war was fought at the top of Spion Kop this hill is two and a half hours from Durban, and three and a half hours from Johannesburg, just a short hop off the N3. Today the mass grave of more then 300 British soldiers who died there stretches from one side of the hill to the other – yet another reminder of the senseless futility of warfare. Some of the famous soccer grounds in the Liverpool area in the UK , have a standing area simply called “The Kop”, in memory of all the soldiers of the royal Lancashire Regiment who fought and died at Spion Kop.
Included in the tours as Raymond and Alastair paint a vivid picture of the personal trauma and military mindset that resulted in the slaughter of so many British and Boer soldiers are:
The Seige of Ladysmith – 2nd November 1889 – 28th February 1900 Winston Churchill’s link in KwaZulu-Natal – 15th November 1899,an armoured train incident , helped to catapult one of the world’s greatest statesmen into his political career.”
Colenso (15th December 1899) and the Thukela Heights Campaign (12th to 28th February 1900).
The Battle of Vaalkrans - 5 -7th February 1900
For South Africa the concentration camps where 28 000 women and children and 14 000 indigenous people died in appalling conditions.
As you’re walking over the windy hill, Raymond pulls up, “think about this,” he tells us. “there were three men who changed the course of world history on top of this hill on that fateful day.” He pauses dramatically. “Winston Churchill, Mahatma Ghandi (who was a stretcher bearer here) and Louis Botha.”
But there’s so much more to do here than just soak up history. Game drives in the Game Reserve and see loads of Game including a tiny newborn Giraffe white rhino .In the evening you can go boating on Spion Kop Dam and see a plethora of water bird and the most beautiful sunsets. Another day after enjoying a walk in the Drakensberg Mountains, you can end your day listening to a Drakensberg Boy’s Choir Recital.
Tours to the Anglo-Zulu sites are also available from Spion Kop Lodge with Alastair Heron and Raymond Heron.
Anglo - Zulu War
1.Isandlwana & Rorke’s Drift
Tour includes a visit to :
Mount Alice : General Sir Redvers Buller’s Headquarters
Churchill Capture Site
Spion Kop Battlefield
10 September 2012