Explore the uMzinyathi area in KZN
Put on your walking shoes and sunhat, and bring your sense of adventure, it is time to visit the uMzinyathi area in KwaZulu Natal. This area is steeped in history offering a range of activities and attractions to satisfy all visitors – even if you aren’t history buff.
You can explore the area on foot or horseback, visit the museums and battlefields, wonder at San rock paintings or enjoy the art and crafts created at the ELC Centre. Accommodation in the area ranges from basic to ultra-luxurious, enough to suit any budget.
This month marks the 141st anniversary of the battles of Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift/Shiyane giving this area its historic significance.
The hill, with its recognizable shape, dominates the landscape where the uMzinyathi (Buffalo) River flows, marking the old boundary between the Colony of Natal and Zululand.
In mid-January 1879 the British forces crossed the river, invading Zululand, and so began the Anglo-Zulu War. On the 22nd of January 1879, the Zulu army attacked the British who were camped at the base of the hill at Isandlwana. It was a victory for the Zulus and the worst single-day defeat for the forces of the British Empire.
Later in the day the Undi Corps of the Zulu Army, numbering 3000 to 4000 men, attacked the garrison and field hospital at Rorke’s Drift. The defence of Rorke’s Drift has earned its place in history with 150 British defenders barricaded in a small building holding off the Zulu attack for almost 12 hours. Eleven Victoria Crosses were earned that night.
Today the area offers visitors a range of activities which includes game viewing, exploring part of our nation’s history and scenery which will relieve the stresses of the city.
The Battlefields – There are museums at Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift and both have self-guided trails around the battlefields. For a deeper dive, you have the option of hiring one of several expert guides who operate in the area.
The ELC Arts and Craft Centre – Established in 1961 this centre has earned itself a place of honour in the history of art and craft in South Africa. Local artists work in the studios provided at the centre where they create work in a variety of mediums. They weave the tapestries which have an international reputation; produce silkscreened fabrics, functional and decorative ceramics and make carpets from hand-spun wool.
Short Walks – There are several scenic and historic sites within walking distance from the two battlefields. Birdlife in the area is worth mentioning, so bring your binoculars and add a few ticks to your bird list.
Nearby Attractions – From the area, you can set out on day trips to Dundee to visit the Talana Museum; Ladysmith and its battlefields, and the impressive memorial at Blood River and the museum at Ncome.
Game Viewing and Hunting – There are also private game reserves in the area and some of the farms offer the opportunity of doing some hunting.
Whether you choose to stay in a self-catering cottage or enjoy the luxury of a country lodge the uMzinyathi district won’t leave you disappointed.
Photo – The distinctive hill at Isandlwana is at the centre of the landscape which is witness to so much of our history.