Day 25 – Zululand

Fugitives Drift monument

Quick drive to the border and then on into kwazulu-natal and the battlefield sites of Isandlwana and Rorkes Drift.

The standard of driving has been predictably poor, but in Namibia and Botswana there’s so little traffic it doesn’t matter. In South Africa, people drive like they don’t have a brain.

Rorkes Drift is quite an interesting place, but perhaps the most interesting thing is why the hell any Dutch or English ever gave a toss about such a vast area of fairly uninteresting dusty brown land, just to protect the colonised south. When you stand on a sandstone ledge where once a Welsh rifleman jabbed downwards with bayonet as a Zulu warrior stabbed upwards with spear, you wonder how often that soldier had asked “what on earth have those bloody idiots sent us here for?”

Approaching tonight’s accommodation there seems to be a bush fire and there are flames lapping g at the side of The Beast as I follow the trail. I can hear the crackling and spitting of the fire as it creeps along through the scrubland. I wonder if I’ll reach Rorkes Drift Lodge only to find it burned to the ground, but it turns out the the burning, which is filling the entire valley with smoke and can be seen for miles around, is a deliberate act to clear the ground ready for the rains to trigger new growth.

When the sun sets, the distant hillside across the valley opposite the terrace of my lodge becomes a black silhouette decorated with ribbons and dots of orange light. More bushfires, this time unplanned. From this distance it looks like lava flowing down the side of a volcano. Meanwhile I devour my traditional local dinner of chicken potjie.


The Zulu leopard guards the Shields of the fallen at Rorkes Drift

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