Country & Coastal Touring

Rorkes Drift Battlefield Tour

The Rorkes Drift hospital building from the front

In 1879 the Zulu people under the leadership of King Cetswayo kaMpanda found themselves the victim of British politics and subsequently at war, facing the might of the British army under their commander, Frederic Augustus Thesiger, later the 2nd Baron Chelmsford. It was believed by the British that the Anglo Zulu campaign would be short lived, that the Zulu’s would be easily defeated, but on the 22nd January of 1879, the Zulu’s triumphed at the Battle of Isandlwana which led to the Battle of Rorkes Drift later the same day.

The Battle of Rorkes Drift

I collected my clients the day before from their accommodation in the Umhlanga (a suburb just outside Durban) and we spent the first day visiting sites including Isandlwana, Gingindlovu and KwaMondi. We finished off the day discussing the events that occurred at the Battle of Isandlwana and walking the battlefield itself before leaving for our overnight accommodation at Rorkes Drift Hotel.

Drawing that Lt Chard made before the battle occurred
Drawing that Lt Chard made before the battle occurred

Rorkes Drift Hotel

Rorkes Drift Hotel is situated on the banks of the Mzinyathi River (Buffalo River) that overlooks the actual drift that traders and hunters used to cross over from Natal into Zululand. The hotel also overlooks that river course where the punts were built to ferry over the wagons and men of the British campaign. It’s an amazing spot with such an atmosphere!

KwaJimu

The following morning of our overnight Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift Battlefields tour we headed over to the site the Zulu’s called “KwaJimu’s”. It was here that in the 1850’s James Rorkes established his little trading post. Little did he know that years later his farmhouse and barn would become the site of one of the most famed battle of that era.

Battle of Rorkes Drift

Today the site of the battle of protected and many tourists from around the world still visit. The house that was used as a hospital was destroyed during the battle but was rebuilt later on the same spot – today this building contains the museum.

Hospital building at Rorkes Drift from the north
Hospital building at Rorkes Drift from the north

The barn that Rorkes built was turned into a church by the missionary Otto Witt still stand today though it has been altered by the missionaries that returned after the British campaign had ended.

Linking the two buildings during the battle was fortifications that were hurriedly built just an hour or two before the battle started, these fortification are long gone but laid into the ground today are markings that follow the believed path the fortifications took.

Rorkes Drift Tour

One of my guests is a descendant of John Jobbins who fought and survived at the Battle of Rorkes Drift and whose account of the battle is still relied upon by historians today. It was an absolute privilege and honor to have escorted them around the battlefields.

Museum figures representing Chard, Bromhead and Dalton
Museum figures representing Chard, Bromhead and Dalton

Booking a Rorkes Drift Battlefield Tour

If you wish to book a day tour, overnight or extended tour to the battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift, or simply just want further information, simply use the contact form below and we’ll be in touch.

 

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