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The Battlefields route is an historic journey through Kwazulu Natal that passes through the towns of Dundee, Eshowee, Greytown, Ladysmith, Newcastle, Vryheid, Utrecht, Ulandi, Winterton. The area's green and lush landscape has the highest concentration of historic battlefield sites in the Southern Hemisphere and every town, historical building, battle site and memorial has a fascinating story to tell.
Over a period of seventy years the area witnessed some of the most historical battles in South African history. It saw King Shaka transform a tiny tribe into a powerful nation, with his skill in battle and military leadership. It then witnessed an army of 460 Voortrekkers defeat the Zulu army at the battle of Blood River.
In 1873 Langalibalele, chief of the amaHlubi tribe, declared open rebellion against the colonial British government. After considerable force from both sides, Langalibalele surrendered to the colonials and was given a life sentence on Robben Island, later to be released after intervention from the British.
On the twenty-second of January 1879 a seventeen thousand strong force of British soldiers was overran by an army of twenty thousand Zulu soldiers. In 1880 to 1881 the seeds of the Anglo-Boer war were sowed when diplomatic efforts by the Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek failed and British forces were marched from Durban to Newcastle.
When gold was discovered in the Traansvaal, the Boers changed the voting act, excluding foreigners and leading to the three year long Anglo-Boer war. The conflict became the bloodiest and most humiliating war for the British since the Napoleonic wars and saw the start of many of the most revered names in history including Winston Churchilll, Mohandas Ghandi, Lord Kitchener and many more.
In 1906, the Bhambatha Rebellion, described as the start of the armed struggle by black South Africans, claimed the lives of 575 Zondi tribesmen, including Bhambatha himself.
There are many tours available in the area from guides with personal regional knowledge of the history and landscape of the area: Penny Farthing Tours (www.pennyf.co.za) and CampaignTrails (www.campaigntrails.co.za).