My husband and I have both had a hankering to visit the Zulu Battlefields (particularly Rorke's Drift) ever since seeing the film Zulu as youngsters. Our son (22) and daughter (18) didn't have quite the same urge but were nevertheless intrigued. Up until the time of making the booking for accommodation in the area we had always 'assumed' that we would stay at the late David Rattray's place as he (and thus by association, it) had received a lot of coverage in the British Press. However, when it came to making a booking it was to find that it was booked up for the dates we wanted, and I was loath to 'shunt' the whole holiday in order to fit in. So I started looking at other options. Rorke's Drift Hotel leapt out as it's actually smack bang by the famous 'drift' on the Buffalo River. Furthermore the architecture was reminiscent of African rondavels, rather than just another copy of an English country house. And to boot it was far more affordable for a family of four! I was intrigued and booked us in for three nights. We chose well: not only was the hotel really spacious, clean, comfortable and friendly, but our rooms (King Shaka and the twin next to it) overlooking the river meant we got to see fabulous sunrises in one direction and equally lovely sunsets in the other. The African architecture is perfect for the locale, as the hotel blends in well with its surroundings. Meals were tasty and varied; the bar was well stocked; the dining tables are such that they can be combined for communal dining or split up for groups or individuals as preferred. Charles, the part-owner and manager, is an excellent host, ever-aware of his guests' interests; as we are all keen (if out-of-practice) riders, he arranged to accompany us one day on the trail the wagon train took from the drift on the river up to Isandlwana. Five horses were duly delivered by a local friend and we set off after breakfast. The trail-ride was one of the best; there is something about riding a horse in southern Africa ... I guess a lot of it has to do with the wide open spaces and the feeling of freedom ... or maybe it was all those Wilbur Smith books I read years ago! Some of the trail was clear for trotting or cantering but a lot was over rocky ground (think small boulders) and this was where we learned that horses are amazingly sure-footed: unsure which way to 'steer' the horses on this seemingly-impossible terrain we simply gave them their heads, the result being they made light work of it and we came away with a feeling of accomplishment. We rode around and through a couple of villages too, and stopped at one for a cold coke. Back in the saddle we retraced our steps, trying to pick out the hotel in the distance (it blends in really well), and when we finally arrived back at the Buffalo River Charles suggested we wade across on our horses as the cavalry had, rather than take the bridge: great fun! After a late lunch we lazed around trying to decide whether to go and explore the part of the river below the cliffs where the ibis nest. Three of us finally decided to make the effort and when we got there were kicking ourselves for wasting valuable time as the sun was low in the sky and we could only spare half an hour there before getting back in the car and heading back. The spot is really lovely, perfect for a picnic ... and a swim in warmer weather. It would make a nice, short ride for anyone who fancies an easy ride and I'm sure the horses would love killing time in the river-pools while waiting to be rode home. It's on my to-do list for our next visit! Our other day was spent on the battlefields with Charles' recommendation of a Zulu guide, Dalton. He is great fun, he really throws himself into the story telling; one minute he's a British officer with his rifle to his shoulder, the next he's a Zulu warrior hiding in the grass ready to pounce, and then he's impersonating Queen Victoria herself with a squeaky voice. Not only was Dalton's storytelling informative and enthusiastic, it also felt like we were redressing the balance of all those films and documentaries told from a British perspective. En route to Rorke's Drift from the Southern Drakensberg (we'd gone to see the awesome amphitheatre that Stanley Baker - with artistic licence - used as his backdrop to 'Zulu') we detoured via the Blood River, Boer versus Zulu, site where we also tried to understand both sides of the conflict by visiting both Boer and Zulu museums: highly recommended. Our next stay at the Rorke's Drift Hotel will have to be in warmer weather as we fancy swimming in the river; we will combine it with a return to the amphitheatre also, allowing time to climb it. This is truly a wonderful part of the world.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- At Rorke's Drift on the Buffalo River the new Rorke’s Drift Hotel stands the slopes of Shiyane Mountain (The Oscarberg), in the rolling hills of Zululand. The historic crossing that gives the area its name is within its grounds and the comfortable modern facilities are priced to meet the needs of the discerning traveller. The visitor will enjoy peaceful relaxation in the rural landscape, surrounded by iconic history and natural countryside. Phase One of the construction is now complete with 7 double and four single en-suite rooms. Phase Two will raise the capacity to 30 rooms so that coach touring parties can be accommodated, for the recommended two night stay. The hotel provides an affordable destination at this historic location. Visitors will be stunned by its position overlooking the Buffalo River and with its open views towards Isandlwana, and by its architectural design that is a modern amalgam of Zulu and Victorian cultures. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Rorke's Drift Hotel South Africa/KwaZulu-Natal