Guests staying at Babanango Game Reserve can self-drive to several places of historical and ecological interest in and around Babanango and the greater Zululand area.
THE SPIRIT OF emakhosini
The Spirit of eMakhosini is a memorial to the Zulu kings buried in the valley below. A giant symbolic traditional Zulu beer pot on a beaded ring dominates the memorial which is surrounded by sculptured horns and tusks of animals once found in this area. A diorama identifies the burial sites of ancestral kings and chiefs in the valley below.
VISIT VRYHEID TOUR
Start your day at the Vryheid Information Bureau which is clearly sign posted in town. A superb info office in a national museum building…it used to be the Carnegie library in town, one of only 3 Carnegie Foundation buildings in South Africa.
- The Nieuwe Republiek Museum next to the info office. This small building was the seat of parliament of this unique but short-lived republic which ran in Vryheid from 1884-1888. It served as House of Parliament, government office, had 4 prison cells and a little fortress in the inner complex.
- Across the street you find the Lucas Meijer House which was the residence of the first and only president this Republic had…but info has it that he never occupied this residence whilst he was president. Currently it is in the process of expanding the local Zulu heritage and tribal picture of the local tribal communities that live in the Abaqulusi area.
- The NGK (Dutch Reformed Church) in town also calls for a visit. Only three street blocks away from the museums this unique building was officially opened in 1894 and today still serves its congregation.
RURAL ZULULAND TOUR
A visit to a rural homestead or community is a must indeed. The scenery is breath taking with spectacular views of deep valleys, high mountains and plateaus. Nature lovers will enjoy the variety of plants, aloes and trees all over.
The flowering aloes in winter are a “must see”. For bird lovers a little paradise of its own. Bushmen paintings add another plus. Having a taste of true Zulu beer or “uTshwala” is something visitors will never forget! Such visits could be arranged through a local councillor.
ONDINI HISTORICAL COMPLEX
Experience the rich cultural heritage of the KwaZulu Natal region, from the earliest inhabitants to the present. Ondini, the Royal Residence of King Cetswhayo kaMpande served as the judicial and legislative capital of the Zulu Kingdom from 1873 to 1879.
The battle of Isandlwana in 1879 – in which a force of 20,000 Zulus annihilated a British contingent of 1,800 men – became a symbol to black South Africans that white domination was not inevitable. The stories are still being told today.
Undoubtedly the most pivotal battle in South Africa’s history. Here 464 armed Trekkers, having placed their faith in their God, faced the full might of the Great Zulu Army in a desperate battle that lasted from Sunrise on Sunday 16th December 1838 until early afternoon before the Zulu Army finally broke and fled the field leaving many of their warriors behind.
Visit the museum and the infamous battlefiends. The Battle of Rorke’s Drift was an engagement in the Anglo-Zulu War where 4000 Zulu warriors were kept at bay by only 100 British soldiers. 11 Victoria crosses were awarded to the British.
HLOBANE AND DEVIL’S PASS
The British forces were defeated by the Zulus in 1879 at this spot.
ZULU ROYAL REED DANCE
The Royal Reed Dance is an annual event which aims to celebrate and unify the Zulu nation as well as honouring the nation’s virgin maidens. In light of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, this cultural practise hopes to curb this epidemic by promoting a culture of respect for young women who, vow to remain virgins until marriage.
GQOKLI HILL BATTLEFIELD
This is the site of the epic battle in April 1818 between the forces of King Shaka and Chief Zwide of the Ndwandwe community. Shaka had concealed his civilian population and livestock in the Mhlatuze River valley but left a decoy herd at nearby kwaBulawayo.
The Dlinza Forest Aerial Boardwalk in Eshowe is a 150 metre long walkway built above the Dlinza Forest floor, which allows visitors to view flora, fauna and avifauna at treetop level. It includes a 20 metre high tower, offering dramatic views of both the forest canopy and surrounding countryside.
SHAKALAND ZULU CULTURAL VILAGE
Shakaland is on the site of the Shaka Zulu series, which was immensely popular in South Africa and further afield during the 1980’s. This told the story of the man of the same name, who was the king and an acclaimed warrior. Born in the late 18th century, King Shaka played an integral role in the identity of his people, and in their wars and techniques. In fact, it was through these fighting techniques that Shaka Zulu managed to unite the Northern Nguni folk in their battles against Europeans and Boers. After the film, all but one of the Zulu kraals were destroyed. The last one is what remains today and forms the basis of Shakaland.
You may already know all about the Zululand Brewery because you’re already a fan of the Zulu Blonde Beer, which is available in the United Kingdom.
The Zululand Brewing Company is known as the smallest brewery on the KZN Brew Route. It all began in 1997, when the Chennells family decided to found their own beer company. Based in Eshowe in Zululand the beers went from strength to strength and the Zulu Blonde, which is the flagship of the brand, was launched internationally in 2010. More than 800 pubs in the UK now stock this beer.