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KZN itinery advice please

Suffolk, United...
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342 posts
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KZN itinery advice please

Thank you to everyone for their help and advice on our trip in March 2015. We have now booked the accommodation we wanted at the rest camps in Kruger and are very happy with itinery for first part of our holiday as we also have time to see the Apartheid Museum, Soweto, the Cullinan Diamond Mine and the panorama route.

From there we plan a long trip to Dundee (277 mls and around 5 hrs 15 driving time?) in order to see something of the Battlefields and Drakensberg area. Does the following make sense? The maps we downloaded to our satnav worked brilliantly in the western cape but can go off piste in the mountains! I am wondering about:

- 2 nights in Dundee to see Tulana Museum and Rorkes's Drift, Isabdlwana and Blood River. What is the mileage and time needed to get around these battlefields, even allowing for the how long is a length of string argument?

- travelling through Ladysmith to see museum and then Spionkop to stay 3 nts at Winterton as a base for the area. One day south through the meander to Howick and return; another west into central drakesberg and champagne castle

- 2 nights in Royal Natal Park at Thembele

We will then need to drive back to Johannesburg airport for early Monday evening from the park. Is this realistic?

I'd really appreciate your thoughts on this. Does this sound like a plan or can you suggest a better approach. Also are we missing any good stopping places between Bergville and Johannesburg airport? We really like to see areas of historical interest, areas of natural beauty and short walks, and to sample the local area. I'd really appreciate your comments and help with finalising this itinery. Thank you

Sydney, Australia
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1. Re: KZN itinery advice please

Brent

We took a full day for the Battlefields tour of Rorkes Drift, Isandlwana and Blood River. This included time at the museum at Blood River and RD mission station and the interesting little museum there. We had engaged a registered KZN Battlefields tour guide who came with us in our rental car. Our guide met us at our Dundee lodge at 8.30 a.m. and we spent the whole day with him. It was very interesting to have him with us and lead us to the sites via the back roads. Thus, we had guided route directions and accompanying commentary along the way and at the sites. Dave Sutcliffe is the man his website provides details of the Battles, battlefield routes and tours etc. amajubaexperience.co.za/Anglo-Zulu%20War/Ang… Very reasonable rates, well worth it. After our tour we realised without a guide it would have not been as interesting nor informative. It is likely that without a guide, the tour would take less time.

Daves suggestions to us might be of relevance to you. A very popular choice is to travel to Dundee on the morning of the first day. It is about 4 hours travel from JHB or DBN and you will arrive around midday and you can drive through to the Talana Museum. As you enter the grounds on your left you will see the Miner's Rest Restaurant where you can get an excellent light lunch at very reasonable prices. After lunch visit this excellent multi faceted museum www.talana.co.za the entry fee is R25 per person. Spend the night in Dundee and my suggestions are www.royalcountryinn.com if you like nostalgia and memorabilia, typical English Country Pub, or www.ingudlane.co.za if you like modern in a game farm. I will meet you at your hotel at 08h30 and accompany you to the Battlefields of Blood River, Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift. The trip takes all day, only getting back to Dundee around 17h00. The round trip is approximately 180 km of which about 100km is on gravel roads. You obviously spend a second night in Dundee before moving on.

 

Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: KZN itinery advice please

Brent if you want to maximise your Battlefields visit engaging a qualified guide is a good idea as Nooee has mentioned. We have done 2 full day battlefields tours in 2012 and 2013 with Dave Sutcliffe and found both experiences very interesting and enjoyable. We covered Isandlwana, Blood River, Rorkes Drift the first time and Ladysmith Museum and Spionkop for the second visit. I don’t know if you are including the Burgher Monument in the Platrand overlooking Ladysmith in your itinerary but it is worth a visit even just to see the big bull Eland with a cow bell hanging round its neck that meanders sedately through the site. Take good walking shoes as in some places the tracks are a bit rough, uneven and stony.

The foyer of the Siege Museum houses the Tourist office which has maps and info for Ladysmith, Colenso and surrounds and the bookshop has a wide selection of Anglo Boer war books.

Northampton, United...
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3. Re: KZN itinery advice please

Hello and I can't add much to the above posts due to the fine and exact detail regarding the battlefield section. I can say that all your timings look fine. When travelling to Howick you should take a look at the Nelson Mandela capture site museum with its sculpture of the great mans face. To of the best all round 'resorts' in the central berg are Giants Castle & Didima. They both have interesting insights into the San people and their rock art. Tokolisa, hope thats the correct spelling, has a few curio type shops and a restaurant just before Champagne Castle. Also worth a visit if you have time is Spionkop nature reserve and battlefield. Both places are easily accessible and self drive. I would aim to leave Royal Natal in plenty of time to try and avoid the late afternoon rush hour in Joburg.

Mark - Owner - SafariKZN

Sydney, Australia
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4. Re: KZN itinery advice please

Good info Mark and I think despite my occasional visitor status we all can contribute .Mark you must see the Eland LOL( unreal ).

Suffolk, United...
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5. Re: KZN itinery advice please

Thank you so much for giving your time with this. It's really appreciated and makes planning so much easier based on real experiences, although will have to have a think about the eland with the cow bell!

The information on the Battlefields, including accommodation options, is great. Thanks. Sat here and even used to the A14 driving 100kms on gravel roads sounds a challenge! I've been advised before that a sedan is fine but can you give an idea on the state of the roads and what they are like to drive on? I assume you just need to drive more carefully?

Thanks for the reminder on the Burgher monument as I had omitted it from the schedule, although did have spion Kop and the Mandela capture site. Thanks for confirmation on timings Mark as they are always a worry when you don't know the area. I understand that you spend a lot of time in the area and just wonder whether you think Winterton or somewhere else is best as a base for 3 nights to have trips out to Howick and Giant's Castle. Any accommodation suggestions would be welcome although appreciate it depends on what you want to spend and how far you want to drive.

Thanks again for your help and advice which, as ever, is absolutely brilliant.

Northampton, United...
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6. Re: KZN itinery advice please

Hello and Winterton or Bergville make a good base. I would though consider staying a night at least at either Giants Castle or Didima. Its a special place to spend a night, actually in the mountains. You can self cater at both places though both have bars and good restaurants at reasonable prices.

Mark - Owner - SafariKZN

Sydney, Australia
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7. Re: KZN itinery advice please

Brent

We occasional visitors can offer useful information as you state based on real experience. Always happy to help. Do not worry about the roads too much. Yes, some careful driving is required, in part but nothing a normal sedan driver cannot cope with. Just watch it, but be assured I was not dawdling along. Few bumps here and there, potholes not anywhere near as bad as some roads going into game lodges. Yes drive carefully nothing more.

Howick, South Africa
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8. Re: KZN itinery advice please

Hi Brent,

Although Winterton's a good centre I wouldn't call it pretty, nor can you see much of the mountains from there. About another half hour or so driving along the R600 from Winterton (past Thokozisa - Mark, take note of the spelling) are a couple of hotels. One I've stayed at and can recommend is "The Nest" - it's on the way to Champagne Castle - which you mention you'd like to see - where there's a hotel of the same name which I've also stayed at and can recommend.

Also on the R600 between Winterton and Thokozisa is a candle factory and rug making factory - worth a visit when you're passing.

In the Champagne Valley is the Drakensberg Boy's choir who have concerts on Wednesday afternoons.

Always use the R74 route from Winterton back to the N3 for your trips and back to Jo'burg.

Some links for you.

http://www.midlandsmeander.co.za

http://web.dbchoir.co.za

modernoverland.com/south-africa/kwazulu-nata…

http://www.thenest.co.za

http://www.champagnecastle.co.za

Johannesburg, South...
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9. Re: KZN itinery advice please

I really recommend that you stay "in" the mountains and not in winterton... we always stay at Drakensberg sun, hotel a bit old, but neat and clean, plus magnificent views and grounds.

Suffolk, United...
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342 posts
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10. Re: KZN itinery advice please

Thank you all for such helpful advice which is really appreciated. I can now get on with my research and hopefully make the most of our first visit to KZN. Thanks again