Battlefields, South Africa - Stein Travel
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Battlefields

Zululand, ancestral home of the Zulu people and site of many a bloody battle between the British, the Boers and the Zulus during the 19th century, abounds in significant towns, memorials and battle sites that form part of the historic Battlefields Route. This land once encompassed the Zulu kingdom led by legendary Shaka Zulu, and then by his half-brother Dingaan, who clashed with both the English and Afrikaaner settlers in what are today recorded as some of the most important battles in South African history.

Over a period of about 70 years, the plains, rolling hills and river valleys saw numerous brutal, blood-soaked conflicts over land ownership, political independence and the desire for colonial domination. The first major battle, and one of the most terrible, took place in 1838 between the Voortrekkers and the Zulus in what became known as the Battle of Blood River. Then followed the Anglo-Zulu War in 1879 in response to British dissatisfaction regarding the increasing strength of the Zulus, and the battles that took place at Isandlwana Hill and Rorke's Drift are remarkable for their tales of heroism and brutality. In 1880 and again in 1889, anti-British sentiment among the disgruntled Voortrekkers, as well as a desire for Afrikaaner independence, led to the two Anglo-Boer wars that captured the attention of the world and resulted in heavy loss of life among both the Boers and the British. The devastating siege of Ladysmith and the Battle of Spioenkop are among the most famous battles that took place during the second Anglo-Boer War from 1889 to 1902.

The Battlefields Route covers 14 historical towns, including Ladysmith and Dundee, numerous national monuments and informative museums, and over 50 battlefields in the surrounding countryside, which are best explored as a self-drive adventure or as part of a tour. Every town on the route has a story to tell or an event to commemorate and tourism offices throughout the region provide maps and guides to assist visitors in making the most of the history, culture, scenery and wildlife.

Information & Facts

Language

South Africa has 11 official languages, including Afrikaans, English, Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho. English is widely spoken.

Money

South Africa's currency is the Rand (ZAR), which is divided into 100 cents. Money can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and the larger hotels. ATMs are widely available (there is a daily limit for cash withdrawals) and major international credit cards are widely accepted, except in petrol stations where cash is required. Visitors should be vigilant when drawing cash from ATMs, as con artists are known to operate there. Travellers cheques and some foreign currencies are accepted at larger hotels and shops, but commission is charged, otherwise all commercial banks will exchange them.

Time

Local time is GMT +2.

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