Not only the place of some of the most picturesque landscapes in the country, the sweeping hills and knotty rock formations that pepper the rolling plains and valleys of northern and central KwaZulu Natal are also the site of a concentration of 70 years of historical battles that shaped the course of South African, British and world history. Best of all, a number of these battlefields are near Oaklands!
For an interactive map go to http://www.battlefieldsroute.co.za/.
Every town, battle site and historic building, in the KwaZulu-Natal region has an intriguing and historical tale to tell. When visiting South Africa a tour through KwaZulu-Natal’s Battlefields, which is a journey of discovery, should not be missed.
If you are looking to do a day trip from Oaklands, here are two great spots to go!
Spioenkop is steeped in South African history and natural beauty. The battlefield is an easy 60km drive from Oaklands, with Spieonkop Dam a further 10km away. Discover how the brutal battle of Spioenkop unfolded during the First Boer War or, alternatively, spend a relaxing afternoon in the wilderness at Spioenkop Nature Reserve.
Ladysmith is a 45 minute drive from Oaklands. Several old battle sites surround Ladysmith, namely Spioenkop, Wagon Hill, Colenso, Elandslaagte, Nicholson’s Nek, Thukela Heights, Gun Hill and Lombard’s Kop. The historical importance of these locations is marked by monuments, sculptures, gun emplacements, museums and military cemeteries.
The town of Ladysmith is a tourist attraction in itself. The rich history of the region is captured in the architectural styles of old buildings, as well as various museums and national monuments. The Siege Museum, Moth Museum, statue of Ghandi, and the Architectural Route are all worth a visit.
Registered local tour guides can accompany visitors to the old battlefields, and detailed maps and brochures are available from the Ladysmith Tourism Information Office.
About the Battlefields in KwaZulu Natal
The position of Oaklands also provides a wonderful stop over point on the way to Three Trees Lodge http://threetreehill.co.za/ who do amazing battlefields tours as well as many other places along the Battlefields Route.
Kwazulu-Natal’s most important battles include:
Zulu Wars (1818-1884)
The Kingdom of Zulu was a monarchy in Southern Africa which grew to dominate much of what is today KwaZulu-Natal and Southern Africa, but when it came into conflict with the British Empire in the 1870s it was defeated despite an early Zulu victory in the war.
Voortrekker – Zulu Wars (1836 – 1852)
The Dutch left the Cape Colony, dissatisfied with being subjected to British domination. The Voortrekker’s headed inland, however once across the Drakensberg Mountains; the Dutch encountered the Zulus with irreversible problems arising.
Anglo-Zulu War (1879)
An ultimatum as well as a list of demands were handed to the Zulu king Cetshwayo on 11 December 1878. The King failed to respond by the deadline – 10 January 1879 – his silence was interpreted as defiance and the British declared war. The British generals however had grossly underestimated the courageous Zulu’s, fighting ability. The defeats and disasters that followed shook the British Empire to its core.
Traansvaal (First Anglo-Boer) War of Independence (1880-1881)
There were two Boer wars, one ran from 16 December 1880 – 23 March 1881 and the second from 9 October 1899 – 31 May 1902 both between the British and the settlers of Dutch origin (Voortrekkers) who lived in South Africa.
Half a million British Troops to an estimated 78 000 Boers.
The KZN Battlefields hold incredible stories to be told. The tour guides in the area are extraordinary and you will stand mesmerized for hours listening. These empty hills were peopled with ghostly armies, heroes of all nations fighting, one and all, for God, King and country in a tragic clash of cultures that left thousands dead and dying.
For further information and bookings, please contact Annie or Simon on email@example.com or give us a call on +27 (0)79 529 2314.