So rich in history

EARLIER this year, I made a commitment to explore my country. I drew up a priority list of the provinces I'd like to visit and KwaZulu-Natal topped it - and no, it's not because I am a native of KZN.

EARLIER this year, I made a commitment to explore my country. I drew up a priority list of the provinces I'd like to visit and KwaZulu-Natal topped it - and no, it's not because I am a native of KZN.

It's just that the province is known for its exquisite coastal areas, but there is more to it than the beaches.

For those who love the sea, coastal regions such as Port Shepstone and Ballito are perfect. But, for the adventurous like moi, you can explore world-class game parks in Zululand or experience true Zulu culture and heritage in the battlefields of Dundee.

If Zulu history does not tickle your fancy, try hiking on the Drakensberg.

Since I have been to almost all the coastal areas in KwaZulu-Natal and the Drakensberg too, I decided to take a trip down memory lane. So off I went to the world-renowned battlefields of Nquthu, in the north, where fierce battles were fought between AmaZulu and the British in the 1800s. A famous site is Isandlwana, where the Zulus thrashed the British.

Most sites of the battlefields remain undisturbed. The lone forts and graveyards look just the way they looked more than 100 years ago. The spooky Talana museum, outside Dundee - my favourite experience of the trip - has some remarkable memorabilia from that era.

Apart from well preserved displays, the museum has models that jump up and frighten the hell out of you. It is definitely not for the faint-hearted.

It takes three hours to get to the battlefields from Johannesburg or from Durban. I chose to fly to Durban and travel by road to Dundee. I spent the night at a beautiful and hospitable four-star lodge, The Lapha.

My history lesson began in the morning. Our tour guide was superb. We wandered around the graveyards where thousands of soldiers died in the 1800's. The Zulu warriors, Amabutho, and British soldiers entertained us while we enjoyed a scrumptious lunch.

After lunch, it was time to learn how my ancestors lived before their land was invaded. Rorkes Drift, another battlefield, was the next stop. As we approached the homestead, we could see the Zulu huts and hear drums and jolly singing.

We were welcomed by a hunk in Zulu attire with a shield and a spear. A tour guide explained Zulu culture while a group of men and women danced in the kraal.

I slept at Rorkes Drift Lodge. It's small, intimate and stunning. The hospitality was again amazing and the chef, Charles, has to be the best cook ever. He prepared us a five-course meal and kept his cool and smile until just after midnight.

The next day we visited the Bhambatha memorial in Greytown, about 120km from Dundee. Bhambatha, a chief of the Zondi tribe, led a protest against the imposition of a poll tax by the British. After the walkabout, it was off to Lilani Lilani Valley, about 20km from Bhambatha Ambush Rock.

The valley is also famous for its hot springs.

We hit the road again to Talana Museum. By then I would have killed anybody who would have dared to ask why I was on the road again. I don't like travelling for endless hours, but the museum experience made up for all that moaning. - Zinhle Mapumulo was a guest of Tourism KZN.

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