It is difficult to believe that this tranquil region was once the site of one of the biggest battles of the Anglo-Zulu war. Today, thousands of tourists flock to this area for a contradictory, peaceful experience in the heart of KwaZulu-Natal.
The Battlefields experience
The Battlefields District gives you the chance to experience, learn and marvel at the richness of the land’s beauty and its cultural heritage. Tourists, especially from England, can enjoy battlefield trips to the memorial and museum in honour of the Zulu Warriors and British Cavalry who fell at Rorke’s Drift. A historian describes in dramatic detail how the British soldiers fought the Zulu warriors in this area which led to the awarding of 11 Victoria Crosses at the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, the most ever to be awarded in British history.
Since history is not always equally enjoyed by all travellers, a variety of other activities are available in the area. One could enjoy a safari through the private Isibindi Game Eco-Reserve which is in close proximity to Rorke’s Drift. The scenery in this area is superb and the numerous rivers that surround and penetrate the reserve run in-between the mountainous hills. Since the Big Five are not found on this reserve, a game walk comes highly recommended. On a game walk guests can become acquainted with species such as the giraffe, kudu and other beautiful African ungulates.
Celebrating the Zulu culture
Under the guidance of the Anglo-Zulu War Historical Society, a Zulu village has been established at Rorke’s Drift. This project was started a few years ago and is a celebration of South Africa’s Zulu people. This gives you a chance to learn more about Zulu culture, traditional dances, music, cuisine and their role in the Rorke’s Drift massacre.
The architectural design, including the distinctive beehive huts and layout of the village is built and structured in the exact same way as the Zulu people build their family homes and kraals. Social structure is a very important characteristic in the Zulu culture and the layout of a Zulu village is done according to hierarchy of all who live in this family homestead. This has everything to do with respect; the base of the Zulu culture that is all inclusive, from the servants to the divine ruler of the tribe.
Guests at Rorke’s Drift Zulu village can purchase Ubuhlalu, otherwise known as beadwork; a very significant part of the Zulu culture. Visitors are shown and explained the purpose of the use of beads that the women wear, designed with articulate perfection, intricate and elaborate designs and patterns. From generation to generation, mothers show their daughters how to make bracelets, headbands, necklaces and embroider their traditional outfits. Beadwork is not only decorative but conveys messages such as reaching the age of marriage, betrothal, pregnancy, post birth, mourning the death of a family member or friend and many others.
Tourists can learn a few new dance moves when the Zulu people dance to the beat of traditional drums, dressed in their full traditional attire, accompanied by Zulu chant. As with the beadwork, each dance performed is symbolic of important parts of Zulu culture or is done by only specific members of the tribe, like Indlamu; a war dance performed by the tribe’s warriors.
At uMuzi, another traditional Zulu village in close proximity to the Rorke’s Drift battlefield, tourists can experience a taste of Zulu cuisine. A Zulu boma dinner is served in one of the beehive huts. Guests can join in on the social gathering as they enjoy a bit of uTshwala, Zulu beer made from sorghum.
For the ultimate Rorke’s Drift experience, enjoy the many comforts of Isibindi Zulu Lodge, which accommodates guests in beehive-style suites, following the local custom. The blend of modern day luxury, Zulu cultural experiences and striking natural scenery set amidst the historical battlefields, will make this the perfect peaceful holiday. Once you’ve experienced such serenity, you won’t want to go home!
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