The interior of KwaZulu-Natal is home to some of the most picturesque landscapes in the country. The sweeping hills and knotty rock formations that pepper the rolling plains and valleys of this area are also the site of a concentration of historical battles that took place over numerous years and shaped both South African and British history. Today, what appears to be little more than wind-swept plains littered with the remains of stone forts, graveyards and little else to indicate strife, bore witness to innumerable fierce battles. The first battles were between the Voortrekkers on their way to the hinterland in a bid to escape the British rule of the Cape Colony, and the fierce Zulu kings, who believed that this beautiful land that lay between the Drakensberg mountains and the Indian Ocean was their own ‘heaven on earth’. This same area of land then witnessed further clashes between the British empire, battling to gain control over land across the Tugela river, and the Zulu nation in the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879, encompassing the famous battles at Isandlawana and Rorkes Drift. Just two years later, the British were at war again in South Africa in what became known as the First Anglo-Boer War, pitting the Boers and British against one another, with numerous battles ensuing across this same area of land. Today this beautiful and somewhat fragile region forms the heart of a Battlefields Route that one can do as part of a tour or as a self-drive itinerary. With maps and brochures to hand, it is possible to trace the battles that involved Mahatma Gandhi, Churchill, Shaka and General Louis Botha, all of whom played strategic roles in these intense clashes.
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