Sunday, 31 March 2019

The Cultural Experince Zululand Tour - a review

The tour I have described over the last few posts was for me abucket list item ,not only visiting the AZW battlefelds but also meeting Ian Knight not the cheapest holiday and there are cheaper tours to Zululand but they do not cover as much .

Pre Holiday - Great service from TCE and we received a fantastic holiday itinerary booklet which contains a very in depth guide to the Zulu war by Ian Knight containg some nice maps .

Flights - the flights from and to the UK as well as the internal flight to Durban were all BA and included meals and drinks , a very long flight I don't fly very well but others were snoring away for most of the 12 hours .

The Guide -What can I say Ian Knight is a fantastic guy ,not only full of expert knowledge but has areal passion for his subject ,his talks were informative and funny at the right points and he was excellent company during our down time , Paul the tour manager teeamed up with us at Durban and again was abrilliant guy , ex SA army and an architect by trade who only does the tours because of his love of the subject and his friendship with Ian ,again a great man to talk with full of amazing stories and again a brilliant sense of humour .Our driver April was a very intelligent guy speaking 11 languages and was full of fun and soon like one of the gang .

Hotels - all amazing ,the staff ,food and accomodation all top rate ,first we stopped at Princes Grant a very upmarket golfing hotel set on the Indian Ocean , next Shakaland the cultural village built for the TV series Shaka Zulu set in the area were Shaka ruled ,then Itahla game reserve it was amazing waking up with the wildlife outside your doors to greet you and finally Isandlwana lodge where you were made to feel like part of the family and again 5 star service .Remeber though that this is Africa nd we did have afew power cuts ,internet is almost non existent and there are bugs,retiles  and animals which are frequent visitors to the rooms . Rooms ,all meals ( which were superb) and drinks with meals are included .

The Tours - Amazing , we saw all the big battle sites and places of interest plus almost every day we took short detours to take in remote graves or vantage points used by the armies and Ians stories just brought it all together superbly .All museum and entrance fees are included .We also saw alot of modern Zulu life which has not changed much in the last 100 years and we had am amazing evening safari included as well .
At Rorkes Drift I sat and listened to another companies tour guide give a full description of the war from start to finish ,it took him 22 minutes ,answered no questions and included some real school boy errors so beware other trips?

Africa is wonderful ,the scenery the people ,the animals ,each night we sat and watched electrical storms light up the night sky ,really beautiful ,BUT the trip does have adown side ,its very energetic dont attempt it if you cant walk far or over very rugged ground , you need to take good wide brimmed hats ,lots of factor 50 sun screen and bug repellent ,long trousers and long socks with good walking boots .

I can only say do this trip if you have a serious interest in the AZW ,save up for it you wont regret it at all .
the link to the 2020 tour

Zululand Tour -day 13 Helpmekaar & Boer War

Our final day and a long journey to the airport , we said our sad farewells ro Roz and the staff at Isandlwana and set off ,as it was along journey Ian and Paul broke it up with afew unadvertised stops ,firstly a quick drop in at Rorkes Drift so a few of the group could get a couple of pics they missed ,then we drove to Helpmekaar , the staging post for Chelmsfords men before they moved to Rorkes Drift and where most of the survivors fom Isandlwana made for .Helpmekaar is Afrikans for "help each other " which refers to the transport "road" the trekkers built to ais each other up and down the hill to Helpmekaar ,today its a small village which is mainly abandoned stores and a large police station ,the military grave yard is behind this but you have to undertake a very rough walk to get to it crossing the police firing range , the graveyard is mainly troops who died of disease during the war .Next we travelled through Boer war country glimpsing Laings Nek before stopping at Majuba hill for a picnic lunch and a brief talk by Ian on the Boer war ,again this site was/is used by white supremacist types for meetings and had some very Nazi like sysmbols on the entrance gate . Finally the airport and home .An amazing experience .

Our Final Night at Isandlwana lodge

some of the amazing staff preparing our farewell meal 

and us doing our bit by eating it 

Our Groupstanding L-R Andy -Richmond-me -ElaineLarry -Jack_Andrew-Tim Kneeling Ian Knight -April-Paul Murais

The graves at Helpmekaar

The derelict buildings make the palce quite spooky
The transport road built by trekkers where Helpmekaar got its name 
The terrrain leading to Helpmekaar

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Zululand tour day 12 - Fugitives Drift-Rorkes Drift

A rather sad day today as its ourn final night at isandlwana Lodge and we are facing the long trip home ,but we have the stuff of legends today ,Melville & Coghill , Fugitives Drift and of course Rorkes Drift . I will let the pics do the talking ,but would like to point out how small Rorkes Drift is in terms of the area where the fighting took place and how low and close the cliffs are that the Zulus sniped from . Our trip took in the first combat in the AZW the action at Shiayos Homestead , then the Drift on the baffalo at Rorkes Drift then we moved to fugitives drift and Melville and Coghills Graves then to Jim's Place as the Zulus called Rorkes Drift a very moving day .

The locals are really friendly and fun something i dont think Chelmsford Said

The site of Shiayos homestead

The rocky area where the fighting took place 

Our route over the Drift 

a lot lower than it was in 1879 but still fierce

the area where Chard built his ponts (not a bridge )

Ian jumps onto avanatge point the Shiyane in the background

Fugitives Drift

The beach where the scene in Zulu Dawn was filmed 

The memorial to Melville and Coghill is not far from where they actually died 

The area where private Wassall earned his VC 

here and below are the cairns where Melville and Coghill died

the memeorial 

Their Grave

The museum on the site of the hospital ,pretty much the same other than the roof
The mealiebag defences are now laid out and marked by rocks 

A church is now on the site of the stores ,again stones mark out the defensive wall built from biscuit boxes

The infamous ledge in front of the defences

The monument to the Zulu dead

The Leopard representing the King Cetshwayo on his fallen warriors shields 

The defenders grave yard

Jim Rorkes grave ,he was afariad of having his bones removed ,hence the huge grave stone

The rear of the "store"

The final redoubt ,again a lot smaller than I thought 

A marker at the mass grave of the Zulus

The Museum

Er who put then helmets on ?

original artifacts from the site

The remains of the original walls in the hospital

11 VC winners

The ledge again

The area where the Zulu Snipers were

again closer and smaller than I thought 

another mass grave of the Brave Zulu

looking form what was the orchard /bush area where the Zulus found cover