Fugitives’ Drift – KwaZulu Natal
The spectacular Fugitives’ Drift property, a 5,000 acre Natural Heritage site, overlooks both Zulu war battlefields Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift.
As the pioneering owners the Rattray’s say ‘’If one tried to dream up geography and topography for the clash between two great nations, one could hardly come up with a more fantastic scene than this one.’’
The game reserve offers a choice of accommodation in two ‘camps’ – the Safari Lodge and the Guest House, both providing spacious en-suite rooms that are individually decorated, with private verandahs and broad views over the plains flanking the Buffalo River Gorge. The shady, well established garden and home to 275 recorded birds, has a most spectacularly sited swimming pool on a secluded spur on the lip of the Buffalo River gorge.
The Lodge’s centrepiece is a remarkable collection of Zulu War memorabilia, complemented by the Harford Library with incredible views over the Buffalo River gorge and the mountain of Isandlwana, that offers a welcoming venue to visitors who wish to relax or deepen their familiarity with history.
Named after David Rattray’s favourite personality in his tales of the Anglo-Zulu War, Harford’s particular appeal to David was his keen interest in entomology, and he is probably best remembered for stopping the skirmish at a Zulu stronghold in order to retrieve a rare beetle and pickle it in gin.
Accommodation is full board where superb cuisine, a unique fusion of home and modern flavours, is served with anecdote-filled panache in the splendidly atmospheric dining room that’s a veritable museum of Zulu War memorabilia.
The Battle of Isandlwana on 22 January 1879 was the first major encounter in the Anglo-Zulu War between the British Empire and the Zulu Kingdom. Eleven days after the British commenced their invasion, a twenty thousand strong Zulu army attacked a portion of the British main column consisting of approximately two thousand mixed British and colonial forces. Despite a vast disadvantage in weapons technology, the numerically superior Zulus ultimately overwhelmed the poorly led and badly deployed British, killing over thirteen hundred troops, including all those out on the firing line. The Zulu army suffered around a thousand killed. The battle was a decisive victory for the Zulus and caused the defeat of the first British invasion which received its worst defeat fighting against a technologically inferior indigenous force.
The Battle of Rorke’s Drift followed the British Army’s morning defeat at the Battle of Isandlwana and continued to the next day, 23 January. One hundred and thirty-nine British soldiers successfully defended their garrison against an intense assault by three to four thousand Zulu warriors. The massive but piecemeal Zulu attacks on Rorke’s Drift came very close to defeating the tiny British garrison. More Victoria Crosses were awarded for valour in this battle than in any other battle in history.
There never was a day like this one … hear about it from a master story teller who’ll send shivers up your spine … and keep you spellbound.