Your history lesson begins as you head out of iMfolozi’s Cengeni gate towards Ulundi and on to Dundee, the gateway to Zululand’s battlefields sites. About 25 km before Dundee on the R33, take the Dejagersdrift turn-off and follow the gravel road to the BLOOD RIVER HERITAGE SITE. This is where the Voortrekkers fought the Zulu army in 1838. (Entrance R40 per adult; R25 per child; plus R20 per vehicle).
Watch a video at the visitors’ centre that details the battle, then walk to the life-sized laager of bronzed wagons. Explore the sites around the battlefield using the map provided and don’t leave without ordering the legendary mince vetkoek (R50) at the Trekker Kitchen. (Book beforehand if you’re a group of 10 or more.) After Blood River, carry on into Dundee along the generously speed-bumped R33. Go through town and carry on for about 40 km, then turn left onto a gravel road that plunges down a valley into the heart of Zululand. This road takes you to ELANDSHEIM RETREAT where you can base yourself for a visit to RORKE’S DRIFT and ISANDLWANA up the road.
At Elandsheim, manager Kristie Paine can put you in touch with an expert battlefields tour guide, who can show you around depending on what you want to see (full-day tour R1500-R3 000 per group). She can also supply you with a detailed map if you’d prefer the DIY approach. (Entrance to Rorke’s Drift and Isandlwana R35 per adult at each site; R20 per child; R3 for a map). Back at Elandsheim, the kids can release their pent-up car energy on a zipline (R120 per person) or on the local archery course (R65 per person; be brave, parents). There are also lots of hiking trails in the neighbouring reserves.
Before you leave Dundee, stop in at the TALANA MUSEUM for more battlefield history, plus a glimpse of life in this farming and mining town. Pam McFadden is the enthusiastic curator (entrance fee R30,20 per adult; R2,40 per child).
BATTLEFIELDS CARAVAN PARK – On Menteith Farm outside Dundee, near the turn-off to Blood River. The campsite has clean ablution blocks, kitchen facilities, a lapa, a trampoline and a pool. Rates: R170 per caravan or tent per night, for four people.
BLOOD RIVER HERITAGE SITE – Three-star accommodation and delicious boerekos meals at the Trekker Kitchen restaurant. There are braai facilities, too.
ELANDSHEIM RETREAT – This peaceful place is 55 km outside Dundee, surrounded by private game reserves. Visit the sandstone Lutheran church built in 1921 on the farm.