Fugitives Drift Lodge For The Perfect Zulu Battleground Encounter

Fugitives Drift was established by David Rattray along with his spouse Nicky and built a prize winning lodge for visitors to enjoy this outstanding tale. Tragically, in January 2007, David was snuffed out by an intruder but Fugitives Drift is a wonderful bequest to something he developed with his other half Nicky and it still remains today. Rob Caskie has taken over as the primary historian. Like David, Rob speaks fluent Zulu, understands the history inside out and is perhaps the best orator I have ever heard.

The two battles that I was fascinated with were the battle at Isandlwana where the Zulu army wiped out around 1,300 UK troops on 22nd Jan 1879. Later on that day, a smaller force of Zulus who missed out on the action at Isandlwana, wanted their chance and so against orders, they attacked Rorke’s Drift. The defensive action went down in the history of the UK Armed forces as among it’s most amazing battles which saw 11 Victoria Crosses awarded. About 140 Brit troops fought with close to 4,000 Zulus in a fight that raged all night.

My stay at Fugitives Drift started with an afternoon trip to the Rorke’s Drift site. It is a few miles from the Lodge and we started going round the museum which had been hospital building at the time of the battle. As with most battlefield museums, there were many artefacts from the battle (rifles, bullets, buckles, spears etc) yet the most eye-catching item I saw was a model of the battlefield. It presented the later phases of the fight when the hospice had been cleared out and the squaddies were protecting the store behind their stacks of mealie bags. The model showed a few red coated soldiers encircled on every side by Zulus a few deep and this was the 1st occasion I’d honestly had the chance to visualize the battle correctly. All of the films and images I've experienced during the past were generally close ups with one or two folk however this model provided an overall impression which was quite honestly, stunning.

To assist visitors and visitors imagine the layout, there are lines of stones marking where the defensive lines were placed. Rob started the story detailing what Rorke’s Drift was and the explanations why it had been assaulted. He made you realize there had been obviously so very much more to the battle than only a struggle between black and white, Brit redcoat vs Zulu warrior. Overall, the excursion was about three hours and everybody only sat listening to this fantastic story teller recounting the incidents of 22nd Jan 1879.

Back at the lodge, I scrubbed up in my surprising room. It actually was sad I could not spend longer there because it became so comfy though it was time for refreshments just before supper so I made my way to the dining area. This room is very similar to a museum with photographs, flags, notes, weapons and a good deal more covering the walls. The dinner itself was very good. Everybody staying at the Lodge sat around the same table. It was a awfully agreeable evening but an early start the day after meant it wouldn't be a late night.

My 6:30am alarm call was a nice warm pot of tea being brought to my room (its amazing to see one or two UK traditions still live on). We would a good warm breakfast just before leaving for our morning excursion of Isandlwana. This battlefield is across the Buffalo river and the historian was a Zulu named Joseph. This is a very different battlefield to Rorke’s Drift. The battle happened on a massive plain in the shadow of a mountain so that the orientation took a lot longer as we first went to the museum ahead of heading off to the hilltop from where the Zulu chiefs were standing 129 years back. We went over to the battleground itself and parked up. Now the talk was going to be a few hours hence we had deck chairs that we carried up the mountain to a viewpoint which offered us an excellent view of the battlefield. Remember, the elevation was around a mile above sea level therefore it was not the simplest climb I had ever attempted.

Joseph, like Rob gave us all a compelling lecture and genuinely helped us visualize the scene. Next he said that while he was a Zulu, he wasn't there to present ‘their side of the tale ‘, he would have liked to supply us with the facts on what happened, at times in particularly graphic detail. At the correct times, he would echo the Zulu cries which were made back in 1879 and as his voice echoed about us, it added much more realism to the. Location. The story was captivating. We listened as Joseph recited what was going on and my eyes wandered around the scenery which was full of oodles of white stones. These heaps of stones mark the resting places of the British troops who are buried where the fell. Each pile of stones represented 6-8 men apart from 2 big piles which were for as many as 40 men. The hard African soil meant it was out of the question to dig anything except shallow graves for the infantrymen and stack stones upon them.

Directly after the talk was over, we had the break mooch round many of the graves and commemoratives at Isandlwana before heading back for lunch. It was a wonderful destination and I probably might have done with spending an extra day as there's a Zulu town to see as well as the walk down to the Buffalo brook where Lieutenants Melvill and Coghill died saving the Queen’s Colour 24th Regiment and years later became the 1st men to be posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross.

There was a time that when a white man in auto was seen in this area, it usually meant they were lost. Nowadays , it has a business primarily based on the work David and Nicky Rattray started meaning there is a massive obsession with those battles concerning the regiment of the biggest Empire the planet has seen and the absolute best warriors Africa has ever produced.

The Anglo Zulu War of 1879 lasted just six months but had a big effect on the Zulu Kingdom and the English govt.. Even today, these remote KwaZulu Natal Battlegroundsstill capture the imagination.

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