The scenic and tranquil landscapes of central and northern KwaZulu Natal have witnessed many major conflicts. The region boasts the largest concentration of battlefields in the southern hemisphere. The soil here has been soaked with the blood of tens of thousands of British, Boer (Dutch-speaking farmers) and Zulu soldiers.
Early conflicts made the Zulu Nation the most powerful in Southern Africa under the leadership of King Shaka. In turn the Zulu nation clashed with the ‘Voortrekkers’ and fought the British in the Anglo Zulu war. The latter made ‘famous’ by the film Zulu, staring Michael Caine & Stanley Baxter, depicting the depicting the heroic defence of Rorkes Drift.
The Anglo Boer Wars first battle took place at Talana and for the first time British troops wore Khaki uniforms in the field. The British expected a short campaign but it was not to be and the conflict lasted nearly three years.
Gqokli Hill, Mhlatuze River, Italeni, Blood River, Isandlwana, Rorkes Drift, Kambula, Ulundi, Talana Hill, Spion Kop and the Siege of Ladysmith, are just some of the famous battles which raged across the province. The KwaZulu Natal Battlefields are beautiful but eerie places. It’s hard to believe now that these picturesque places were once the focal point of so many major military clashes.
There are a number of self-drive routes available navigating the historical battlefields within the province. They take in the battle sites, historical buildings, museums, memorials and graveyards from this time.
This page is a new addition to the site and has been inspired from visiting battlefields whilst on safari. My in laws also have the Willowgrange battle site and war graves on their farm. They also have family accounts and written experiences of past campaigns.
Did you know: that future famous world leaders: General Louis Botha, the Union of South Africa’s first Prime Minister who helped draft the constitution of the League of Nations; Mohandas Gandhi, later the Mahatma and Winston Churchill, Britain’s most famous Prime Minister all were present at the Battle of Spion Kop.