We are now approaching the rural areas of Zululand ! The scenery is breath taking with spectacular views of deep valleys, high mountains and plateaus. Nature lovers will enjoy the variety of plants, aloes and trees all over.
The flowering aloes in winter are a “must see”. For bird lovers a little paradise of its own. Bushmen paintings add another plus. A visit to a rural homestead or community is a must indeed. Having a taste of true Zulu beer or “uTshwala” is something visitors will never forget!!! Such visits could be arranged through a local councillor.
If you have a guide at your disposal the guide can give detailed explanations of the Zulu customs, handshakes, greetings, marriage etc. The annual Zulu Royal Reed Dance and the monthly Mona Market outside of Nongoma are not to be missed should you be around at that time. Keep in mind that toilets and ablutions in the deep rural areas are scarce but in our modern times this problem is gradually overcome.
Take a packed lunch and some good cool drinks with you .A day you will never forget !!!
Welcome to Zululand…
A start on day 1 coming from Dundee into Vryheid. Start your day at the Vryheid Information Bureau which is clearly sign posted in town. A superb info office in a national museum building…it used to be the Carnegie library in town, one of only 3 Carnegie Foundation buildings in South Africa.
At the info office get info on Battlefields and other historic sites in and around town:
- The Nieuwe Republiek Museum next to the info office. This small building was the seat of parliament of this unique but short-lived republic which ran in Vryheid from 1884-1888. It served as House of Parliament, government office, had 4 prison cells and a little fortress in the inner complex. The theme today focusses on the number of independent republics our country had, showing their flags and coat of arms.
- Across the street you find the Lucas Meijer House which was the residence of the first and only president this Republic had…but info has it that he never occupied this residence whilst he was president. Currently it is in the process of expanding the local Zulu heritage and tribal picture of the local tribal communities that live in the Abaqulusi area.
- The NGK (Dutch Reformed Church) in town also calls for a visit. Only three street blocks away from the museums this unique building was officially opened in 1894 and today still serves its congregation.
Vryheid and Paulpietersburg/eDumbe
(We recommend that you make use of a Battlefields Guide to visit these sites). Plan to leave early after breakfast as this is a very full day.
Start with a visit to Lancaster Hill (today known as Vryheid Hill ). Members of the British Lancaster Regiment manned a battery on the hill outside of town and this included two canon sites on the hill. A small battle took place in which the Commanding Officer and some British soldiers were killed, a tombstone on the site reminds us of this battle and you also get a wonderful view of Vryheid and its surroundings from the ” pulpit rock” on the hill.
Decide which of the following sites you want to see and add to your day’s start. Due to time and distance you will only be able to do of these sites in the rest of the day. The other two will need to be done on a different day.
- Battle of Holkrans
- Battle of eKhambule from the Anglo-Zulu War
- eNtombe Drift on road to Piet Retief
- Filter Larsen Monument between Braunshweig and Luneburg ( our South African version ) and in visiting these last two sites will take you into one of the well known German settlements in South Africa.
In coming in from Dundee we trust that you have definitely visited the Bloedrivier/Ncome sites between Dundee and Vryheid…if not then turn back and do so !!!
THE HEART OF THE ZULU KINGDOM – A third chapter
Most of these sites in and around ULUNDI have on site guides/guiding
- The Zululand Tourism Info Office at the Ulundi Airport and next door.
- The Battle of Ulundi site, final battle of the Anglo/Zulu Wars;
- KwaZulu Cultural Museum at Ondini just outside of Ulundi (on site guide);
- uMgungundlovu Multi Media Centre including partially rebuilt umuzi(kraal) of King Dingane, a hall of the Zulu Kings, unique series of tapestries done by Rorkes Drift ladies, a film theatre, a view deck, conference centre etc. (guide on site)
- Spirit of Emakhosini – a huge beerpot “view deck” of the entire Valley of the Zulu Kings (on site guide )
- Battle of KwaGqokli Hill – final clash between the Zulu and Ndwandwe clans;
- Mtonjaneni Zulu Historical (private) Museum housing 2771 registered items) is housed in a special display hall, built as part of the Mtonjaneni Lodge.
- The latest addition and not to be missed is the “Prince Mangosuthu Buthelezi Museum and Archives” in the centre of Ulundi – speaks for itself.
All these in and around Ulundi, less than 30km apart
If you have an extra day on your programme visit the Umfolosi Game Reserve
entering at the southernmost Cengeni gate – a game viewing experience you will not forget.
FROM ULUNDI TO ESHOWE
Having relived Zulu Battles, Zulu Culture and Heritage around Ulundi we now move east towards Eshowe and the Indian Ocean. Not to be missed on this trip are the:
- Mtonjaneni Zulu Historical Museum (private) between Ulundi and Eshowe.
- Shakaland ,a unique private facility focussing on Zulu Culture and Heritage
- In Eshowe make sure you do not miss the Zululand Historical Museum at Fort Nongqayi (another British Fortress), the Vukani Cultural Museum and round your visit off with a very unique “birdwalk in the trees” where you actually walk in the trees doing bird watching in and not under the trees.
When you have passed Gingindlovu you will again join the N2 national road taking you southwards to the King Shaka Airport and to Durban.