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Stone cairns marking graves at Isandlwana

Battlefields & Midlands

13 days from £2,605pp

Stone cairns marking graves at Isandlwana
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Tour highlights

  • Soak up the art and culture of Durban and sample local Afro-Indian delicacies.

  • Relax at a countryside retreat in the Midlands, taking leisurely strolls along the river.

  • Find out about the history of the Battlefields, touring the sites with a knowledgeable guide.

  • Go hiking, horse riding or mountain biking in the Drakensberg Mountains.

Price includes:

  • Scheduled international flights
  • Fully insured vehicle hire
  • All accommodation
  • 24-hour support while you travel
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Itinerary idea in detail

Includes international flights from a choice of UK airports, including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Glasgow.

  • Today you begin your journey by boarding your international outbound flight to Durban.

  • Arriving in Durban, you’re met at the airport by your private driver and whisked off to your hotel or guesthouse in the city. Once you’ve settled in, you have the rest of the day to relax or begin exploring. Depending on your time of arrival, you could visit one of the nearby golden-sand beaches, dipping your feet in the Indian Ocean, or take a stroll along the waterfront boardwalk. We also recommend trying some of the local delicacies, many of which have Indian influences, such as bunny chow (hollowed-out bread filled with expertly spiced curry).

  • You have all day to spend at leisure in Durban. We suggest going for a morning walk along the beach before uncovering more of what this culturally diverse city has to offer. Pay a visit to Africa’s oldest botanical garden, learn about the local Zulu culture at the Shakaland Cultural Village, or take in some of the creative street art and contemporary galleries in the up-and-coming Glenwood district. In the evening, you could have dinner in one of the city’s seafood restaurants — sardines are particularly popular during the annual sardine migration in June and July.

  • After breakfast, your fully insured car is delivered to your hotel and you set off on your hour-and-a-half drive into the Midlands, an area of gentle green hills where the British army based its troops during the Anglo-Boer and Anglo-Zulu wars. You’ll stay for the next three nights at Granny Mouse Country House, a thatched country retreat set beside the Lions River. With an outdoor pool, a spa and tree-filled grounds, the property provides ample opportunity to unwind. You can also indulge in some fine dining at its restaurant, The Eaves, as well as local wines in its well-stocked wine cellar.

  • Spend today relaxing among your rural surroundings, perhaps taking a stroll along the riverbank to the waterfall while looking out for some of the 200 bird species found in this area. If you’d prefer a little more activity, the property can arrange for you to go horse riding, play a round of golf or join a tour of nearby San rock art, some of which dates back millennia.

  • Enjoy another day at leisure. You could visit the Nelson Mandela Capture Site, where an unusual sculpture of 50 steel columns depict Mandela’s portrait at the spot where he was arrested in 1962. There’s also a museum here where you can find out more about events leading up to his capture and general information on South Africa’s political history. Other activities in the area include treetop canopy zip-line tours over the Karkloof Valley, and visiting Howick Falls, which plunge 95 m (310 ft) down a cliff face.

  • Depart from the Midlands and drive for about three and a half hours into the Battlefields region in northern KwaZulu-Natal, where you’ll spend the next three nights. During the 19th century, the Battlefields were the sites of several bloody encounters involving the British, Boer and Zulu armies. You can spend the next few days exploring the history behind this landscape, whose open plains, twisted rock formations and distant mountains belie its dark past.

  • Explore the Battlefields with an experienced guide, whose knowledge of and passion for the area’s history helps bring the Anglo-Zulu wars to life. We recommend beginning with the battlefield of Isandlwana today. It was at the foot of Isandlwana Hill on 22nd January 1879 that British forces were overpowered by some 20,000 Zulu warriors. Your guide will explain the different tactics used by both sides, and you can gaze over the battlefield from the top of the hill, imagining what it would’ve felt like to have been involved in the onslaught. Dotting the battlefield are small piles of white rock, each of which covers the bones of the fallen.

  • After a morning spent relaxing at your lodge or guesthouse, take a guided tour of Rorke's Drift this afternoon. On the evening of the Battle of Isandlwana, a relatively small number of British soldiers defended the trading post here, which had been turned into a field hospital. Despite being vastly outnumbered by Zulu warriors, the soldiers succeeded, earning 11 Victoria Crosses between them. You can still see the buildings today, which remain much as they did on that evening, and your guide will retell events from that night.

  • Today you leave the Battlefields for the scenic three-hour drive to your final base, Montusi Mountain Lodge in the Drakensberg Mountains. On arrival, you can relax and take in the panoramic views of the surrounding steep-sided peaks, including the Mont-Aux-Sources, the mountain that inspired the lodge’s name. This afternoon, you could make the most of the activities available at the lodge, such as fly-fishing in the property’s two trout ponds, swimming in the pool or looking for some of the hundreds of bird species in the gardens, including sunbirds, kingfishers, lapwings and the endangered ground hornbill.

  • Spend the day exploring the Drakensberg (whose Zulu name, Quathlamba, means ‘Battlement of Spears’). You could join a guided hike or go horse riding through deep valleys to waterfalls and streams, the mountains rising like great, green barriers in the background. Alternatively, you could hire a mountain bike and follow some of the 100 km (62 miles) of trails that wind through the Northern Drakensberg.

  • After a leisurely morning at Montusi, you drive four hours north to Johannesburg Airport to catch your flight home.

  • Arrive home today to complete your journey.

Accommodation options

While the itinerary price reflects the suggested accommodation, Audley trips are 100% tailor-made, and a specialist can help you select the option best suited to your tastes and budget.

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The specialist who designs your trip to South Africa will have explored the country many times and, in some cases, lived there. Their first-hand knowledge gives us the belief that no other travel company can match our expertise in helping you plan your trip.

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When to go

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Place Daily max temperature (°C) Monthly rainfall (mm)
The Midlands
The Battlefields

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