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Dundee & Battlefields Tourism Information

Quick Facts: Dundee & Battlefields

  • Battlefield Country Lodge
  • The region of Dundee and the Battlefields is located in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal Province
  • This region of South Africa is home to the largest concentration of battlefields in the country
  • Rorkes Drift Battlefield: most famous of the battlefields in South Africa
  • Isandlwana Battlefield: location of buried British soldiers
  • The signalling post
  • Fort Mistake
  • The Cenotaph Memorial
  • The Drakensberg and the Natal Midlands offer many opportunities to re-discover British, Zulu and Boer clashes on the battlefield
  • KwaZulu-Natal is home to the historical Battlefield Route,
  • Towns such as Colenso, Dundee, Estcourt, Glencoe, Ladysmith, Newcastle, Utrecht, Volksrust, Vryheid and Winterton became key points during the three year war
  • Talana
  • Spionkop
  • The Armoured Train incident,
  • Colenso Heights
  • 118 days Siege of Ladysmith
  • Talana Museum, Dundee and Battlefields (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)
  • Isandlwana Battlefield (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)
  • Battle of Rorke's Drift
  • Guided tours of the Battlefields are available for visitors

Introducing Dundee & Battlefields

The region of Dundee and the Battlefields in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal Province is home to the largest concentration of battlefields in the country.  Rorkes Drift Battlefield is the most famous of the battlefields in South Africa.

The Isandlwana Battlefield site marks the location of buried British soldiers. The signalling post, Fort Mistake, which was built during the first Anglo Boer War, is one of the many that stretched north to Newcastle. The Cenotaph memorial was built in memory to the many men who died in the First and Second World Wars.

The Battlefields of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

The KwaZulu-Natal battlefields are worth a visit reliving the history of this region in South Africa. The Drakensberg and the Natal Midlands offer many opportunities to re-discover British, Zulu and Boer clashes on the battlefield.  KwaZulu-Natal is home to the historical Battlefield Route, an experience which is a true tour highlight when visiting South Africa.

Driving through this spectacular area today, it is hard to visualize that just over one hundred years ago General Buller's forces were spread across this same piece of veld. British soldiers struggling to cross the Tugela River against the concentrated fire from Boer guns sited in the hills surrounding the besieged town of Ladysmith.  Amongst them a 25 year old former soldier turned newspaper correspondent for the London Morning Post by the name of Winston Churchill, and a young London-trained lawyer, serving as a stretcher bearer, named Mohandas Ghandi.

The Battlefields are scattered like patchwork as a reminder to this bitter and bloody period, which was precipitated by the discovery of gold in the Transvaal in 1886.  With the northern triangle of Natal an especially vulnerable region, towns such as Colenso, Dundee, Estcourt, Glencoe, Ladysmith, Newcastle, Utrecht, Volksrust, Vryheid and Winterton became key points during the three year war.

Names such as Winston Churchill, Generall Sir Redvers Buller, Mohandas Ghandi, Jan Smuts and Louis Botha are part of the rich tapestry of the war, which records the triumph and tragedy of famous battles and engagements such as Talana, Spionkop, the Armoured Train incident, Colenso Heights and the 118 days Siege of Ladysmith.

Talana Museum, Dundee and Battlefields (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)

The Talana Museum north of Dundee displays extensive collections documenting the military history as well as coal-mining, glass manufacturing and the industrial history of South Africa.  The Talana Museum is located on the R33 in the direction of Vryheid, less than two kilometres north of the town centre.

Isandlwana Battlefield (KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa)

After Zulu King Cetshwayo had refused to surrender, the British concentrated five batallions in Zululand, very well equipped and armed with the most modern guns and cannons of the time. One of them, the 1st Batallion of about 1300 soldiers, put up camp on January 22, 1879 at the foot of the Isandlwana Hill. They were however attacked by some 20,000 Zulu warriors. The furious Zulus took the offensive on the British army from three sides simultaneously.

In the Isandlwana Historic Reserve and Battlefield there is a small museum and a bronze sculpture by the sculptor Gert Swart from Pietermaritzburg. It is called "Izimpondo Zenkomo" and represents a necklace of honour, the Zulu King's reward for outstanding courage.  The Isandlwana Battlefield is located about 65 kilometres south-east of Dundee, to be accessed on the R68 via Nqutu. At the nearby location of the 'Battle of Rorke's Drift' 100 British soldiers withstood the attack of 4000 Zulus.

Touring the Battlefields in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Most visitors to the region explore South Africa's historical Battlefields as a self-drive experience with informative maps and brochures which can be a rewarding journey of personal exploration.  An recommended alternative is to make use of a specialist battlefields guide. Many of the guides are brilliant raconteurs, able to make the most mundane historical events come to life. They often produce a show worthy of the finest theatre group. Standing on the spot where men fought and died, they interweave historical detail with anecdote and emotion.

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