Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Zulu War Battlefield Tour

First full day back and I thought a quick update would be good with some photos from Zulu Land.

With just over 2 weeks in South Africa the Finance department decided we could afford to fit in 2 nights at Isandlwana Lodge and the battlefield tours.

The hotel has to be the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in, made extra special as we were literally the only guests in a 10 room hotel and I had the historian and author who lives next door, Rob Gerrard, to myself in the bar which I am sure I enjoyed more than he did.

The first thing I noticed was the view from our room (Room 1 Cetshwayo).


The next day started with a meet with our tour guide Dalton NGobese at 9am, followed by a tour of Isandlwana in the morning and Rorkes Drift in the afternoon.
The hotel itself is built in with Zulu style thatch roofs and is 5 star. The finance department decided that if she was to be subjected to a battlefield tour she would at least do it in style.
 The battlefield on our approach. It was hotter than a very hot summers day and this is their winter, heat and water must have been a massive problem for the British troops.

 The cairns are each built where 5 or 6 of the Imperial forces fell, the locals were I the process of re-painting them when we arrived.

And here I am pointing out what the tufts need to look like for the basing department.

 The small cenotaph marks the centre of the British camp and is dedicated to the Imperial dead. Around 1,300 Imperial troops were killed and less than 60 Europeans escaped. The Zulu Army, estimated at around 25,000 lost in the region of 2-3,000 warriors.
 Dalton was so entertaining and interesting that even the finance department was smiling!

 Dalton is a Zulu himself the Great, Great Grandson of Induna Isayho (hope I spelt that right) who's Kraal was the first target of Chelmsford column after they crossed the buffalo river. A great part of the tour (again only the two of us so very personal) was Dalton shouting out the war cries chants of the Zulu whilst beating his walking stick against the canvas chair like the Zulu did against the shields, bringing the whole experience to life for us. I particularly enjoyed Daltons imitation of the British officers giving orders and speaking to each other. Better than Michael Caine.

Back to the hotel for lunch and the view from our rooms balcony over the battlefield.

Then on to Rorkes drift. I was so excited by this part I actually forgot to take photos (sorry).

I was struck by how much smaller than I imagined Rorkes drift was. The old mission has been converted into a visitors centre complete with manikins in uniform, in one case crawling through the holes in the wall they had dug. I was also struck by how different it was to the film which had been filmed about 30 miles away.

The current buildings are made from stone but built onto the original foundations.

At the end of all this I was able to sit with Dalton in the bar and talk about some of the historians he knew such as Ian Knight who had Daltons wedding. Apparently he had been challenged to a stick fight by some of the young men as he had carried a shield and Knobkerrie during the ceremony as many of the Zulu did, wisely he turned this down.

So back in the UK now and trying not to get sucked into a new project (Boer War, I was inspired) this may however be one I return to in the future.

I hope to have another post on Sunday after Partizan the show at Newark where we are putting on a demo game, WW1 East Africa marking the 100th anniversary of the landings at Bagamayo.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Absolutely fantastic. Wish I had come along too.

  2. Absolutely fantastic. Wish I had come along too.

    1. If the missis had take out all the clothes she never wore we could have got you in the suitcase Andy.

  3. Great pics and report. Thanks for posting.

  4. Sounds and looks like a great trip.

  5. Was amazing Paul thanks, whilst the battlefield tour were brilliant the safaris were even better. Holiday of a lifetime, 4 years to save up but worth every penny. Back to the grind this morning.

  6. Amazing trip Roger! Thanks for sharing!

  7. Excellent report and I like the pictures that you took, especially the ones with the broad vistas. It must have been a terrifying sight to see the Zulu mass approaching from afar. The color of the grass is interesting too, from a wargaming standpoint.