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Nguni Route


Colenso Museum
The Colenso Museum, otherwise known as the R.E Stevenson Museum (Old Toll House) was erected in 1879 as the house of the...

Talana Museum
Talana Museum, Battlefield and Heritage Park: "Talana" meaning "the shelf where precious items are stored" is a  f...

Ladysmith Siege Museum
The Ladysmith Siege Museum is considered to be the best Anglo Boer War museum in the country, and is acclaimed beyond th...



Below is a list of accommodation establishments along this route. Bookings and enquiries can be made directly with the establishment.

Royal Hotel
The Royal Hotel is a stately hotel, located in the centre of the town of Ladysmith. The hotel offers comfortable en-suit...

Battlefields Country Lodge
Battlefields Country Lodge is situated in the heart of the battlefields en-route to Rorkes Drift, Isandlwana, Blood Rive...

BBI (Battlefield Backpackers International)
Situated 5 minutes from the centre of Dundee, this clean and friendly little lodge is set in the heart of the Battlefiel...

Bokmakierie Country Lodge
Bokmakierie Country Lodge offers luxury accommodation that is good value for money. The lodge is a true ‘home away...

Bonnie Highlands B&B
Bonnie Highlands, the home of Barry Zietsman and his mother Margie, is one of Ladysmith's original homes. Built in 1920...

Budleigh House B&B
Budleigh House B&B offers luxury, upmarket accommodation with en-suite rooms and is situated on a one-hectare park-l...

Camp Buffalo
Camp Buffalo is a 2300ha game reserve in the heart of Northern KwaZulu-Natal, offering a real bushveld experience.&...

Chez Nous B&B and Self-Catering
Accommodation: Our accommodation at Chez Nous consists of 10 double rooms and one single room. We cater for a group of...

Durnfords Lodge
Durnfords Lodge is situated in Ladysmith and has 15 air-conditioned en-suite rooms in a tranquil garden setting. Di...

Elandsheim Retreat Centre
Facilities at Elandsheim Retreat Centre includes 10 log cabins sleeping one to eight persons - four have en-suite bathro...

Farquhar Lodge B&B
Farquhar Lodge B&B is set in a beautiful ‘jungle-like’ garden and situated in central Ladysmith. The com...

Fugitives Drift
Survivors from Isandlwana crossed the Buffalo River at a place forever after named 'The Fugitives' Drift' and this spect...

Hole in the Wattle - Self-Catering Farm Cottage
This charming farm cottage is situated in the very picturesque Helpmekaar/Elandskraal district 6km off the main road P6,...

Egerton Manor
Egerton Manor has six twin, en-suite rooms with television (DSTV) and tea/coffee making facilities. All rooms also have&...

Isandlwana Lodge
Isandlwana Lodge is an upmarket facility built on the Nyoni Rock below, where the Zulu commander stood during the Battle...

Kwa-Rie Caravan Park
The Kwa-rie is situated in the middle of Dundee on a 14ha plot. Kwa-rie offers overnight facilities and 27 camping sites...

Penny Farthing Country House
Penny Farthing is a charming country house with luxurious en-suite bedrooms and is well known for its warm hospitality a...

SpionKop Lodge
SpionKop Lodge is set against the backdrop of the majestic Drakensberg mountains, on the KwaZulu-Natal battlefields rout...

The Lapha B&B
The Lapha B&B is a comfortable 4-star accommodation establishment, situated in central Dundee - the heart of th...

Thornley B&B Country Homestay
Thornley B&B Country Homestay is a historical homestead, situated on the Eastern slope of Talana Hill on which the B...

Trenchgula Game Farm and Guest Lodge
Trenchgula Guest Lodge is situated 3km on the D343 (Hyde Road extension past Hacienda complex) and only 7km from the Lad...

Tuskers Guesthouse
Tuskers Guesthouse is situated in a quiet neighbourhood in walking distance from supermarkets and restaurants. The Guest...

Wyford Farm
Wyford Farm was established in the 1870’s as a trading store about half way up or down Van Reenen’s Pass, wh...

Lennox Guesthouse and Cottage
Lennox Cottage is situated 7km from Dundee, at the back of Lennox Berg. They offer accommodation in 12 en-suite bedroom,...

Rorke's Drift Lodge
Rorke's Drift Lodge was started in 2003 by Paul and Christine Lamberth who escaped the rat race to settle into peaceful...

Buller's Rest Lodge
This charming, upmarket, country-style, thatched lodge is situated in the leafy suburbs of Ladysmith, in the heart of th...

Royal Country Inn
Recently awarded a 3-star grading, The Royal Country Inn combines the benefits of modern accommodation with an old-world...

Hunter's Lodge
Hunter's Lodge is a family run bed and breakfast centrally situated in Ladysmith. They have 15 well appointed rooms...

Battlefields Caravan Park
The Battlefields Caravan Park has grassed stands, 26 power points (15 amp), shady trees, campfire/braai (barbeque) facil...


Below is a list of arts and crafts outlets and projects on this route. Booking and enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Zululand Tours
Mike conducts tours to Isandlwana, Rorkes Drift, Bloodriver, Talana Museum, Hluhluwe-Umfolozi Game Parks and rural trips...

Battlefields Tours
John Snyman is a specialist military history tour guide. He is registered with the South African Tourist Board, and spec...

Bushbaby Safaris
Bushbaby Safaris is based in Dundee, but offers tours through out South Africa. Bushbaby Safaris has eight guides in tot...

Gunners Battlefield and Zulu Cultural Tours
Pat is the chairperson of Tourism Dundee, Founder member of Dundee Diehards, registered military specialist guide, spent...

Kalepa Safaris
Option 1: Game drive am/pm R330.00/adult; R250.00/child under 12 years Option 2: Game drive and cheetah tour...

Lost Trails
Paul Garner is a tour guide and is both a Battlefields Specialist (with vast knowledge on the battles of Isandlwana, Ror...

Rorke's Drift Cafe and Guided Tours
Rorke's Drift Café is the only eating venue to be found in the Rorke's Drift area and is situated at the Rorke's...

Tour Guide - Paul Lamberth
Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift specialist tour guide: Paul Lamberth acquired his newfound passion when Christine an...

Tours of Sibongile - Aaron Mbatha
Aaron will accompany visitors, in their own vehicle and by foot, through the streets of Sibongile. This informal tour al...

Ubuntu Tourism Development
Ubuntu Tourism Development is situated at the Ladysmith Cultural Centre. The venture was started by Sandile Khumalo in 2...

Zig-Zag Tours
Zig-Zag offers customised tours to the Drakensberg, the Battlefields, various museums and many more. They also offer air...

Heritage Tours & Transfers
Evan is a Provincial Guide with over 20 years of experience, as well as being a well known Specialist Battlefields Guide...

   Arts & Crafts

Below is a list of arts and crafts outlets and projects on this route. Enquiries can be made directly with the business.

ELC Art & Craft Centre
The Evangelical Lutheran Church Arts and Crafts Centre at Rorkes Drift was established in 1963 by a Swedish couple Ulla...

Kraaines Glencoe
Kraaines Glencoe is situated in a beautiful old town called Glencoe.  The business is run by the Emslie family and...

Martha's Art
Martha is a fine artist who specialises in oil paintings of a variety of subjects ie portraits, figures, animals and flo...

Sizwe Umoya
Sizwe Umoya is a gallery selling copper wire beaded items for example bowls, eggs, tea light holders, bracelets, ostrich...

Tactile Carpets
The Tactile Carpet Factory is situated on Yvette and Braam’s farm in the Biggarsberg Mountain Range. Local Zulu pe...

Wezandla Crafts
Elandsberg Farm is found some 50km south of Dundee in the northern part of KwaZulu-Natal. When looking out of our window...

Artist - Edna Shawe
Edna Shawe is a resident artist and art teacher in Dundee. Edna has a wealth of talent and knowledge; she completed her...

Artist - Christine Lamberth
Art Holidays at Rorke's Drift: Christine Lamberth is a conceptual artist who is currently studying towards a Masters De...


Below is a list of environmental attractions on this route. Booking and enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Ladysmith Cultural Centre
The centre was officially opened in 1997 and is housed in a beautiful Victorian house that has been restored to its form...

Nambiti Conservancy
Nambiti – “More than just Big Five” Nambiti is a private bush retreat and game conservancy of 20 000...

Ladysmith Community Tourism Association
The Ladysmith Community Tourism Association offers interesting guided tours, luxuary accommodation, restaurants and much...


Below is a list of services on this route. Enquiries can be made directly with the business.

Elandskraal Store
Heinz and Monica run a general trading store at Elandskraal, situated approximately 15km from Rorke's Drift. There is a...

Isandlwana Dressmaking and Dry Cleaning
On the 24th of January 2005, Blessing’s Dressmaking Business started.  The business is located at the Tribal...

Ladysmith Tourism
Ladysmith Tourism succeeded the former Ladysmith Publicity Association that dissolved at the end of 1996. Ladysmith Tour...

Northern Natal Courier
The Courier was established in Dundee in 1899, and is a local newspaper with a passion for the area, and an interest in...


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The Nguni Route incorporates an area of scenic landscapes combined with historical and cultural attractions. The districts in which the route is situated have some of the poorest rural communities in KwaZulu-Natal. The name of the route is derived from the Nguni language of which Zulu is a sub-category. It also refers to Nguni cattle that play an important role in traditional Zulu celebrations.

This section of KwaZulu-Natal will always be remembered for the fierce clashes that played an integral role in determining South African history. The area has been aptly referred to as both the 'The Turbulent Frontier' and the 'Crossroads of South African History'. It contains many sites of conflict between the Afrikaners, the Zulu and English, including some of the most significant battle sites in South African history - the Battle of Blood River, the Battle of Talana, Isandlwana and Rorke’s Drift - are all found in the area.  Winston Churchill's historic reference to the town of Ladysmith, "famous unto the uttermost ends of the earth", holds true for the area as a whole.

The Battlefields are fascinating, yet after finding out about what happened in the past to shape the area today, it is a worthwhile experience to visit the communities that border the well-known towns of Dundee and Ladysmith. The Battlefields have always been a major attraction of the area, however many are unaware that there is also the opportunity for visitors to experience the day-to-day life of Zulu people today.

Reasons to visit:

The area has a variety of bird species, including two endangered species, ground hornbills and the bald headed ibis. Dundee has one of only two pairs of black eagles in South Africa nesting in its trees.

Local farmers are working together to encourage wildlife to return to their farms, to reintroduce game, protect surviving species, and to promote tourism in the area. After a farmer dropped his fences to form a conservancy, oribi re-appeared after not having been seen for 80 years. 

The landscape is dotted with thorn trees, huts, mountains and rivers, making the Nguni Route a must-see. The area is predominantly inhabited by Zulu people who belong to the larger Nguni group whose origin is mostly lost in an oral tradition that precedes recorded history. 

Zulu people are well known for their colourful beadwork and decorative beadwork is sold at many outlets in the region. What makes Zulu beadwork unique is the code by which particular colours are selected and combined in various ways to shape messages that at the same time are woven into decorative geometrical designs. 

Talana Live
16 - 18 October 2015
Time: Friday 6pm - 10pm, Saturday 10am - 5.30pm, Sunday 9.30am - 12.30pm
Place: Talana Museum
Info: Experience a "Night at the Museum” Talana Museum style. Meet the story telling ghosts, ride the "Ghost Train", experience life in the Boer, British and Voortrekker camps and in the museum which comes to life after dark. Weekend activities include a parade through Dundee led by Pipe Band, re-enactors, cultural groups, cars and motor cycles, pipe and other band performances during the day, heritage games, open air chess and mlabalaba, craft and heritage stalls, militaria and miniature car stalls, creations market, food and beverage court and a treasure hunt at the museum, to name a few.
Adults: R70 scholars: R35 for full weekend

The Zulu Kingdom played a major role in South African History during the 19th century, especially in the region of the Battlefields of North Western KwaZulu-Natal.  There were also a number of other people and cultures who played a significant role in determining South Africa's future - and part of the cultures still remain for visitors to see and experience, making the region culturally diverse and interesting. 

Some of the world-known names associated with the area include Winston Churchill, who was arrested here; the Prince Royal of France, who was killed here; Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, who established a stretcher-bearing corp during the Boer War; the Zulu's, who defeated the British and vice versa; and the Afrikaners, who fought against the British in two large wars. For more than fifty years blood drained the soil of this part of the province.  

The French and Prince Louis Napoleon:

Prince Louis Napoleon, the Prince Imperial, the only son and heir of Napoleon III joined Lord Chelmsford's staff after the defeat at Isandlwana.  He was the great-nephew of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, and had personally begged Queen Victoria's permission to accompany fresh troops to South Africa. Exiled to England in 1870, Prince Louis was legally barred from receiving a commission in the British Army, but allowed to join Chelmsford as an extra aide-de-camp. He was said to be an excellent scout and was given the responsibility of scouting for an overnight camp on the march to Ulundi. Any hopes of resurrecting a Napoleonic dynasty in France died on the first day of June, 1879, when his small group was ambushed and he was killed. He apparently fought bravely and died with 17 assegai stab wounds.

The English and Winston Churchill:

Fighting in the Anglo-Zulu and Anglo-Boer Wars, England was an integral role player in South African history. Winston Churchill came to South Africa as a 25 year old Sandhurst-trained cavalryman and newspaper correspondent. When Boer patrols from the Orange Free State were spotted crossing the Drakensberg Mountains into Natal near Winterton, the British dispatched a camouflaged, armoured reconnaissance train from Estcourt. Among its complement was a recent addition to Britain's war effort ... Winston Churchill. On 15 November 1899, Boer guerillas ambushed and derailed the train, killing a number of British soldiers and capturing Churchill. Within two months, however, the future Prime Minister had escaped from prison in the Transvaal, slipped back into Natal and rejoined the push to relieve Ladysmith.

The Afrikaners and Louis Botha:

Probably the most well-known Afrikaner to fight in the Boer Wars, was Louis Botha. An Afrikaner and first Prime Minister of the modern South African state, then called the Union of South Africa, he became a member of the parliament of Transvaal in 1897, representing the district of Vryheid. Two years later he was made a general in the Second Boer War, fighting with impressive capability at Colenso and Spionkop.

The German Missionaries:

German missionaries settled in the Elandslaagte region, close to Dundee. Many of the people still living in the area have German as their home language and a German fete is held at Elandskraal annual Bazaar, where visitors can buy fresh meat, tasty treats and German delicacies.

Local traditions:

Lobola refers to the exchange of cattle from the bridegroom and his family to that of the bride. Previously believed to be merely a ‘bride price’ this practice compensated the bride's family for the loss of her labour and also meant that should a bride be mistreated in her new home she could return to her parents while her husband forfeited the cattle.

Lobola also depends on the bride's beauty, charms, education and the standing of her family. The lobola can be anything from a few goats and chickens to many head of cattle.

The bride and groom do not have much say in the lobola negotiations - it is a matter for the families concerned to decide. The acceptance of lobola also represents a treaty between the two families. If the wife is found to be deficient in any way, her father is expected to refund the lobola or find a suitable replacement bride.

Lobola is the price paid for a bride - traditionally in livestock - and is negotiated whenever a wedding takes place (although in urban areas of South Africa, money has largely replaced livestock as the currency of lobola). Paying lobola continues to be a significant part of traditional weddings in almost all of South Africa's tribes; however it is not quite as straight forward as merely paying a ‘bride price’. 

Zulu dancing plays a major role in Zulu culture and tradition. The Dance of the Small Shield dates from Shaka's time and is a rhythmic dance used to encourage military unity. Today it is normally performed at Royal occasions. A similar dance using a spear and shield is the umGhubho. 

The Bull Dance is a dance that originated in the cramped confines of the mine dormitories imitating a bull with the arms held aloft and the legs brought down with a thump. The rural girls have their own version. 

The Hunting Dance imitates the actions of hunting and the bravery it requires. This fiery dance is danced using sticks instead of spears to avoid injury and was danced before the hunt began. The girls also dance their own version to welcome the men back from the hunt. 

The umBhekuzo represents the ebb and flow of the tides with the men alternately advancing and retreating on the audience. Those at the ends lift up their aprons exposing their buttocks. 

The dancers' bodies move in snakelike unison accompanied by singing in the UmChwayo. The umGhebulo appears as if the dancers want to pull down the sky or climb an imaginary ladder to it. The iliKhomba is a graceful dance with rhythmic movements of the upper body accompanied by the swinging of a long decorated stick.

The Zulu People and their Nguni Heritage:

Today the Nguni peoples are classified into three large subgroups, the Northern Nguni, the Southern Nguni, and the Ndebele. The Zulu are among the Northern Nguni.

Four of South Africa's official languages are Nguni languages; isiZulu, isiXhosa, siSwati, and isiNdebele are spoken primarily by the Zulu, the Xhosa, the Swazi, and the Ndebele peoples, respectively. Each of these languages has regional variants and dialects, which are often mutually intelligible. 

Although much of the Zulu history has been lost through oral tradition, it is said that the Zulu people are the direct descendants of the patriarch Zulu, who was born to an Nguni chief in the Great Lakes region of sub-equatorial Central-to-East Africa. In the 16th century the Zulus migrated southward to their present location.

In the 17th and 18th centuries many of the most powerful Zulu chiefs made treaties and gave control of the Zulu villages to the British. This caused much conflict because the Zulus had strong patriarchal village government systems - they fought against the British but due to their limited strength, they couldn't win.  Finally, after much of the Zulu area had been given to the British, the Zulu people made a collective decision that they didn't want to be under British rule.  In 1879 war erupted between the British and the Zulu. Though the Zulu succeeded at first, within six months they were conquered by the British, who exiled the Zulu Kings and divided up the Zulu kingdom. In 1906 another Zulu uprising occurred and the Zulu continued to try to gain back what they considered to be their ancient kingdom. 

Zulu Kings

During the reign of King Shaka (1816-1828), the Zulu became the mightiest military force in southern Africa, increasing their land holdings from 100 square miles to 11,500.  Shaka was followed by Dingaan, who tentatively entered into treaties with English colonizers. Mpande was the next King. He allowed the British extensive control over his peoples. By the time he died in 1872, the Zulu had had enough of the English invasion. Cetewayo, Mpande's replacement, tried vainly for six years to avoid a confrontation with the British, yet in 1879 war erupted. Although the Zulus initially experienced some success, the British army eventually prevailed. In less than six months, Cetewayo was exiled to England, and the Zulu kingdom was divided to British advantage. The last Zulu uprising against European domination was lead by Chief Bombatha in 1906. In recent times, Chief Gastha Buthelezi has doubled as the political leader of the Zulu, and the head of the Inkatha Freedom Party, which played a leading role in the fight against Apartheid and demanding a voice for his people who are more than three million strong.

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Open Africa Routes

A route is a cluster of travel attractions, accommodation, tour operators, local artisans, guides and restaurants. It brings people together from all levels of community to promote travel to their area. You select what interests you on a route and create your own itinerary.

South Africa - KwaZulu-Natal

South Africa - KwaZulu-Natal

This section of KwaZulu-Natal will always be remembered for the fierce clashes that played an integral role in determining South African history. The area has been aptly referred to as both the 'The Turbulent Frontier' and the 'Crossroads of South African History'.

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Key Contacts

Christine Lamberth

Telephone: Click here


heritage nguni kwazulu-natal culture arts-and-craft dundee ladysmith


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