Rorke's Drift, KwaZulu Natal and the north coast, South Africa
At a Glance
Immerse yourself in the history of the Anglo-Zulu War
Listen to one of South Africa’s best story tellers
Enjoy the Fabulous views of Isandlwana Mountain
Experience the new graded bike trails
Curl up with a book in their extensive library dedicated to David Rattray
Best time to Visit
Good time to visit
Average time to visit
The Lodge is open all year round, but the best game viewing is from March to the end September. Subtropical climate with hot, humid, wet summers (September to April) and warm to cool, dry winters (May to August).
To start planning your holiday to Fugitives' Drift
Fugitives' Drift Lodge and Guesthouse are simple and charming retreats with eight cottages and six rooms respectively, very close to the sites of two of the most famous battlefields in the history of the South African wars, Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift.
Family and owner-run Fugitives' Drift Private Reserve offers a unique experience combining wildlife with rich South African history. The accommodation is in comfortable en-suite cottages and the lodge has lovely views of Isandlwana Mountain. The Buffalo River is a short walk away.
Game viewing can be done on foot, in vehicles or on horseback, with opportunities to see several species of animals including giraffe, zebra and kudu. The bird life is prolific and there have been 275 species identified in the gorge below the lodge. Fishing is also a great pastime and the unspoilt surroundings are the perfect place to unwind.
However, the best reason to come here is for the incredible talks given by Andrew Rattray and his team of guides (or rather story-tellers) about two of the most famous battles of the Anglo-Zulu wars.
There is a colonial feel to both the lodge and the guesthouse and guests all dine together, hosted by guides and managers, with dinner very often involving a traditional British roast.
An excellent library has recently been built in memory of the late David Rattray, owner of Fugitives' Drift Lodge, entomologist and the originator of these incredible talks. There are stunning views from the balcony, where guests often take lunch, as well as plenty of space to curl up with a book and internet access for guests.
Fugitive's Drift Lodge offers eight spacious, luxury en-suite cottages which each have a private veranda, affording views over the plains flanking the Buffalo River Gorge. The Lodge is also home to a newly renovated Annex, or Cottage. The Cottage has been redesigned to have two en-suite bedrooms and a sitting room. One bathroom has a shower and bath, the other is a small shower-room. It is ideal for small families or couples travelling together. The smaller Guesthouse has six simpler rooms, around the homestead, where meals are served.
There are 8 luxury en-suite cottages all with private verandah with far-reaching views.
This cottage has 2 double rooms with en-suite bathrooms and sitting area as well as a private verandah.
Children are welcome but there are no specific facilities except babysitting which can be provided on request. The lodge offers specialised children's battlefield tours that will engage and inspire children with stories of the bravery and courage of the British soldiers and Zulu warriors, but there is a minimum age of 12 on the regular battle field tours. Tours are followed by a game walk to see giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, kudu, nyala and other non-threatening game.
Facilities at the lodge and guesthouse include a dining room adorned with a remarkable collection of Zulu War memorabilia, a swimming pool and horses. The Harford Library, which offers incredible views over the Buffalo River Gorge and the mountain of Isandlwana, can seat 34 guests and has a dedicated kitchen, wireless internet access and an integrated audio/visual system.
Activities in and around Fugitive's Drift include horse riding, swimming, game drives, walking and fishing. The lodge also offers battlefield tours to bring the epic Zulu war to life. The lodge has just introduced 3 bike trails with ski piste grading: 1 green, 1 blue and 1 red so guests can cycle past zebra, giraffe, wildebeest & other non threatening game on 5,000 acres. There are 2 adults bikes & 2 children’s mountain bikes for 10 year olds.
Louisa Verney (Staff)
Having been lucky enough to be captivated by the late David Rattray speaking at the RGS about 6 years ago, a visit to Fugitives' Drift has been high on my list since, and I was not disappointed.
The Rorke's Drift talk was so interesting, and it did not matter that I had very little prior knowledge of the Anglo Zulu war. Andrew Rattray, managed to step into his fathers huge shoes magnificently and brought a very human element to the afternoons intense battle. Standing by what was the old grain store, it was incredible to imagine the Zulu's in full warrior regalia charging over the hill and across the vast plains. What a terrifying sight it must have been for the British soldiers.
Later that evening we all sat around the fire and chatted about the battles and how the film Zulu had got some elements of history wrong.
As well as the battlefields tours Fugitives Drift is on a private reserve, so it is a lovely place to go for a walk or mountain bike ride.
Louisa Verney (Staff)
There are a variety of reasons to visit KwaZulu-Natal (or KZN to those in the know). Some come for the beaches, some for the wildlife, some for the Drakensburg Mountains, and some for the battlefields. If you can't imagine coming here for the latter then please bear with me. Having worked in the Africa travel industry for many years, I had of course heard much about David Rattray and his phenomenal talks about the Anglo-Zulu wars. Sadly, I never made it to see him speak before he died a couple of years ago but fortunately his family and associates have decided to continue his legacy at Fugitives Drift Lodge. The area of the battlefields is dry and dusty, characterised by hills and expanses of emptiness with the odd outback-style town thrown in. You really would need a good reason to come here on holiday. And you have one.
The accommodation at Fugitives Drift Lodge is pleasant enough, it has been recently refurbished and there's a pool and some nice views (of Isandlwana Mountain) but that is really not important. The reason you come here is to hear Rob Caskie and the other guides talk. Our first trip took us to Isandlwana, where (renegade) British troops received a good hiding from the local Zulu and ended the day fleeing in disarray, many drowning in the torrent near Fugitives Drift. But what really got me was the story of the battle of Rorkes Drift and, in particular, I think, the way Rob tells it. This was not a set-piece battle, there were no generals or cavalry, just a handful of men defending their lives (and those of their sick comrades) against hundreds of Zulus, high on battle and bent on revenge after the unprompted attack on them at Isandlwana. With adrenalin pumping and hairs standing on end, we followed Rob around the tiny area of the hospital and stores as he gave us a blow-by-blow account of the bloody fight, with every doorway giving rise to another brave vignette. I won't tell you the best bits, you'll have to go there yourself.
Battle of Isandlwana Tour
This morning you will go on the world-renowned battlefield tour that recounts the famous 1879 Isandlwana Battle between the British and Zulu people, rated as one of the greatest military disasters in British colonial history.
Rorke's Drift Tour
Listen at sunset as this tour follows the famous story of Rorke's Drift. Following on from the Isandlwana morning tour, you'll learn of how the remaining British fell back to the mission station to protect the church and hospital.
South Africa Uncovered
Durban, Drakensberg, Rorke's Drift, Hluhluwe-iMfolozi & the Elephant Coast
from £2300 pp inc flights & transfers for 11 nights
- Whilst we provide you with expert guides on this tailor-made trip when you need them, you get a real sense of adventure and independence as you road-trip through this dramatic region in an SUV at your own pace.
- Delve into the history of the battle between the British Empire and Zulu Kingdom whilst you stay at Fugitive’s Drift.
- Track white rhino on foot under the supervision of a highly regarded expert guide.
Location & directions
Rorke's Drift, KwaZulu Natal and the north coast, South Africa
Fugitives' Drift Lodge is set on a hillside above the Buffalo River Gorge in the Natal Battlefields, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The 2500ha reserve is 8km from Rorke's Drift and 56km south east of Dundee.
How to get there
11-hour international flight to O.R. Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. Drift Lodge is approximately 5-hours drive from Johannesburg, alternatively it's a 3 to 4-hours drive from Durban.
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