Blood was shed on these lands. On the plain of Isandlwana, the British suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of Zulus. On these now quiet grassy plains, the then world superpower was humiliated by a native force. Keep an eye on the ground as you walk the battle site; there is still evidence of what took place here.
Flying into Durban we head north to the Hluhluwe-Umfolozi National Park. Here we have four days of game walks and drives accompanied by rangers with the chance to see giraffe, impala, nyala, warthog, white rhino, wildebeest and zebra. Boat safaris bring us close to crocodiles, hippos and a wealth of birdlife.
We now head inland to Dundee, a small town rich in Boer heritage, where British troops withdrew from Zulu land after their defeat at the battle of Isandlwana during the 1879 Anglo Zulu War. The first shots of the Second Anglo Boer war were fi red in Dundee in what later became known as the Battle of Talana. We have the whole day with a specialist military guide who will bring the battle fields to life.
We continue towards the Drakensberg Mountains. Zulus call them the Barrier of Spears. Our first centre is at Cathedral Peak in the Ukhalhamba-Drakensberg National Park. The Drakensberg’s rugged escarpment provides a dramatic background to the gentle green and rolling hills of the KwaZulu Natal Midlands. We can walk straight from our hotel out onto the peaks and buttresses of the surrounding mountains. For those who like to relax, this is one of our most comfortable and superbly located hotels, the perfect place to take it easy in style.
Cavern Berg is in a stunning location on the edge of the Royal Natal National Park, dominated by the Amphitheatre, a crescent shaped basalt-topped wall six kilometres wide which soars to a height of 3,000m. Once again, we head straight out on foot from our hotel into the amazing mountain scenery.
Depart London Heathrow on the overnight British Airways flight to Durban via Johannesburg.
On arrival in Durban, we travel north into Zululand for 5 nights in a hotel or lodge in the Hluhluwe area, our base for exploring the varied character of this fascinating region.
Today we are guests of the Mbonise Cultural Experience and shall get a glimpse into the daily rural life of a Zulu community. During the afternoon we will visit the St Lucia Wetland Park and take a walk in False Bay Reserve.
Today we shall walk on an Indian Ocean beach with free time for lunch in the town of St Lucia, the perfect spot to sample the local fish and seafood. In the afternoon we join a boat cruise on the St Lucia Estuary to view the bird life and to look for hippopotami.
Today we spend much of the day in Hluhluwe- Umfolozoi Game Park in 4x4 vehicles. We may have a braai (barbeque) lunch on this day.
We have a very early start to the day and before breakfast go on a walking safari from the lodge with an armed ranger. Late afternoon we will enjoy a sunset safari in Hluhluwe / Imfolozi National Park.
Today we travel inland via the Battle of Blood River site to Dundee for 2 nights.
A full day sightseeing and walking amongst the Anglo-Zulu battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift led by a local guide.
Today we head, via Ladysmith, to our first centre in the Drakensberg - the beautiful Cathedral Peak region where we spend three great days walking directly from our hotel.
The walks that we are likely to include whilst discovering the Cavern Berg area are as follows:
CANNIBAL CAVERN AND CAMEL’S HUMP
This is a great walk affording the opportunity to visit an enormous cavern and to learn something of the history and legend of the area. The walk offers magnificent views of the ‘Amphitheatre’ from ‘Surprise Ridge’ with panoramic views from the summit of ‘Camel’s Hump’ for those who make it to the top! (Some minor scrambling is necessary). 6 miles (9.2km), ascent / descent 500m, 4 hours.
THE SILENT WOMAN VIA JACKAL RIDGE
This is a fairly easy walk and does not go very high but provides good views of the surrounding peaks. Most of the walk is on easy terrain. There is no scrambling or exposure of any kind. 6½ miles (10.5km), ascent / descent 400m, 3½ hours.
This walk will take the clients to the highest point that we will reach on foot on their holiday. The views from the summit of Sugar Loaf are spectacular – towards the Drakensberg escarpment and the ‘Amphitheatre’, the former homeland of QwaQwa and the Metsi Matsho dam. The first part is quite easy, climbing relatively gently but steadily on a good path. Then comes a rougher section on uneven steps and after that, a non-exposed but taxing scramble up a gully. This can be a challenging walk, but there are opt out options to make it more manageable.
From Cathedral Peak we transfer to the Cavern Berg Resort, approximately one hour by road. Here we spend four days walking in the spectacular mountain scenery and we shall visit the Royal Natal National Park.
Here are some examples of some of the walks that we are likely to enjoy whilst discovering the Cathedral Peak National Park:
This is a grade low level walk and the path is easy to follow. This route will take you into the valley of the Umlambonja River, and is not demanding and involves very little ascent and descent. This is a great walk for the birdwatchers and there is a good possibility of seeing baboons. 4 miles (6km), ascent / descent 300m, 3 hours.
This can be a demanding walk, however it is a linear walk, and offers those who do not want to tackle the scrambling in the gorge, the opportunity to turn back. Initially the path is easy to follow, but once the path descends into the gorge, to proceed becomes demanding and involves minor scrambling and boulder hopping. This is one of a very few opportunities to walk in indigenous forest on this holiday. The waterfalls and the running river provide for beautiful picnic spots and the ultimate reward, if you make it that far, is the magnificent sight of the ‘hanging boulder’. 6½ miles (10.5km), ascent / descent 400m, 4 hours.
MUSHROOM ROCK, THE TARN AND A DESCENT VIA RIBBON FALLS
This is a demanding walk as it involves a steep ascent early in the day, It is at the very top of the grade. However, this walk is often described as the walking highlight of the holiday as it takes in the very interesting geological formation of the ‘mushroom rock’ and on a clear day affords the most spectacular view of Cathedral Peak, the Bell, the Inner Horn and the Outer Horn as well as panoramic views of the Drakensberg range beyond the confines of the Cathedral Peak boundary. The walk also affords the opportunity to view very pretty, small mountain waterfalls as well as the very beautiful ‘Ribbon Falls’. Baboons, mountain reedbuck and eland are often seen on this ‘off the beaten track’ route. 6 miles (9.7km), ascent / descent 640m, 4 hours.
We transfer from the Cavern Berg Resort to Johannesburg Airport for our return flight to UK.
See where this holiday travels to.
The Cathedral Peak Hotel, is a beautiful resort hotel in the shadow of Cathedral Peak, the highest mountain in the Drakensberg. Open since 1939, Cathedral Peak offers traditional combined with luxury accommodation with spectacular views. It's one of our most popular hotels.
The Cavern Drakensberg Resort, set at 1500m on the edge of the Royal Natal National Park in the Drakensberg Mountains close to the magnificent Amphitheatre escarpment.
Rorkes Drift Hotel, set on the Buffalo River and located in the heart of the Battlefields, perfect for fantastic views.
The Ubizane Safari Lodge is located just outside the Hluhluwe town and in the Hluhluwe/Imfolozi National Park. The park is famous for saving the white rhino from extinction, and recognized as the oldest game reserve in Africa. Once the private hunting ground of Zulu kings, this big five reserve is one of the top national parks in South Africa to visit.