3 Best Sights in Dundee, Durban and KwaZulu-Natal

Babanango Game Reserve

About three hours from Durban, and 50 km (31 miles) from Vryheid, this new reserve pairs Zulu cultural lessons with wonderful wildlife encounters. Once indentured farmland, this protected 22,000-hectare (54,363 acre) Zululand reserve underwent biodiversity rehabilitation and now encompasses mist belt grasslands, thornveld, and river frontage, and is home to animals of all sizes, from the sweet little steenbok to the surlier lion. The acacia-flecked plains and meandering valleys are home to three beautifully refurbished lodges—historically-inclined Babanango Valley Lodge, Zulu Rock Lodge in the north, and the highly anticipated riverside Travellers Camp—all managed and staffed in partnership with local communities. Nearby sites include the Isandlwana battlefield, Rorke's Drift, Devil's Pass, the grave of Piet Retief, and the location of the Battle of Blood River.

Battle of Blood River Site

One of the most influential events in the history of South Africa with long-reaching tragic consequences for the original inhabitants of the land, this battle, fought between the Boers and the Zulus in 1838, predates the Anglo-Zulu War by more than 40 years. After the murder of Piet Retief and his men at Mgungundlovu in February 1838, Dingane dispatched Zulu impis to kill all the white settlers in Natal. But by November Andries Pretorius's new group of 464 men and 64 wagons moved to challenge the Zulus and took a vow that should God grant them victory, they would forever remember that day as a holy day. On December 16 an enormous Zulu force armed only with spears attacked the armed Boers. At the end of the battle 3,000 Zulus lay dead, but it's said not a single Boer had fallen. The long-term effects of the battle were dramatic. The intensely religious Voortrekkers saw their great victory as a confirmation of their role as God's chosen people which led to the apartheid system that surfaced more than a century later. Two powerful monuments—one to the Boers, the other to the Zulus—today commemorate the battle.

Talana Museum

The first-rate Talana Museum, set in an 8-hectare (20-acre) heritage park, on the outskirts of Dundee, is well worth a visit. Fascinating exhibits, spread over 17 buildings, trace the history of the area, from the early San hunter-gatherers to the rise of the Zulu nation, the extermination of the cannibal tribes of the Biggarsberg, and, finally, the vicious battles of the South African (Anglo-Boer) War. The museum stands on the site of the Battle of Talana (October 20, 1899), the opening skirmish in the war, and two of the museum buildings were used by the British as medical stations during the battle. The military museum here is an excellent starting point for the Battlefields Route, where Zulus, Brits, and Boers battled it out for territory and glory. Reenactments, living history, and special events are regular features.

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