Using Dundee as a base, any of the one day or half day tours may be combined to suit your personal requirements. Tailor made tours can also be designed for your specific requirements.
Guides with wide ranging and specialist knowledge of events in this area conduct tours that bring our past alive.
Come and experience our beautiful country, our unique and varied military history and aspects of Zulu culture that haven’t changed much over the past century.
As you travel around with us, you will discover interesting cameos of a land rich in history, traditional culture and a quality of friendship that you never expected.
We offer 3 levels of tours:
For school groups.
For those with a general interest who would like to visit the sites and hear the stories.
For the military history specialist who would like to have lots of specific detail.
Tours are offered in English, Afrikaans, Zulu and French.
Recommended accommodation lists and registered tourist guides are available on the Tourism Dundee and Talana Museum and Battlefield rout guides websites.
When to visit:
Any time of the year, but note that summer’s can be very hot.
You may wish to coincide a visit with some of the annual events that happen in the battlefields region.
Travel to Dundee the day before. Remember to wear suitable clothes and shoes for the terrain, a hat and sun protection. Carry water to drink.
You may wish to combine this other tours to battle sites or places of interest in the area.
Why hire a guide?
Although you can enjoy our area by yourselves you will benefit by hiring a professional guide to bring the history to life for you. Professional specialist guides will enhance your experience and share a wealth of local information with you that you might otherwise never experience.
All tours depart from and return to Talana Museum, unless otherwise indicated. There is secure, under cover parking for vehicles.
The Red Soldier Tour
Depart Dundee at 8:15 accompanied by an experienced and knowledgeable guide.
Your tour includes
· Travel via Malonjeni and the site of the First World War soldier settlement scheme,
· Isandlwana battlefield from the Nqutu heights. This is the commanding position from where the Zulu commanders controlled the battle. At St Vincents Mission visit the museum and then proceed onto the battlefield. Feel the atmosphere and experience history come alive as you follow your guide across this blood drenched battlefield.
· En route to Rorke’s Drift, hear the tale of the skirmish at Sihayo’s kraal on 11 January and the story of Henry Harford and his beetle.
· Crossing the Buffalo river allow your imagination to travel back in time and see the soldiers crossing on the pont where you are in your vehicle. Lunch at Rorke’s Drift hotel.
· Rorke’s Drift – the name echoes down through history. Relive this epic battle as your guide walks and talks you around the battlefield, the walled British cemetery and the Zulu mass burial sites. Your return to Dundee will enthral you with more tales as you travel either up the Helpmekaar heights or past St Augustines’ church (a superb missionary church), with time for a quick visit.
Discuss your options with the guide on booking about your return route.
All these sites have amazing stories and atmosphere.
Hear not only the history but the local traditions related to these sites.
The Khaki Tour
Depart Dundee 8:15
Accompanied by experienced and knowledgeable guides from Dundee visit Talana Museum and battlefield on the outskirts of Dundee.
Feel the atmosphere and experience history come alive as you listen to the account of the battle from the heights of Mpati mountain- the site of one contingent of Boer commandoes.
From the mountain heights down through Dundee taking in the site of the British camp, the churchyard where the British general Sir William Penn Symons is buried, the Boer memorial to the battle of Talana on the clock tower of the Dutch reformed Church, where the Boer casualties were reinterred in 1929.
The battle of Talana was the first battle of the Anglo Boer War 1899-1902 and the battlefield, hill and British soldiers cemetery are all part of the museum and heritage park.
Follow your guide in the footsteps of the British soldiers across this blood drenched battlefield – with an option to follow the walking trail up Talana hill.
The museum set at the base of Talana hill with 27 historic and relocated buildings.
Exhibits include the
· battle of Talana and the Anglo Boer War,
· Anglo Zulu war of 1879,
· the early San inhabitants of the area and their rock art,
· the national coal mining museum,
· a magnificent glass collection and bead gallery.
· The Smith cottage is the home of one of the founders of the town, Peter Smith and the museum is on his original farm.
· the Great War 1914-1918 and the Dundee and South African involvement,
· the 1913 Passive Resistance Movement,
· the Dundee Heritage exhibit – 135 years of the history of the town and area
· agriculture with a magnificent collection of wagons
· the Smith family, pioneer and military cemetery
After lunch in the 1912 Miner’s Rest restaurant travel to Elandslaagte- the second battlefield of the Anglo Boer War.
Stand on the hills at Elandslaagte, look out over the battlefield and allow your imagination to recreate the tremendous late afternoon storm, lightning, thunder, British troops attacking the hills, the Boer retreat and the charge of the British lancers into the ranks of the retreating Boers.
These tales and local stories related to these sites bring them alive as never before.
Some of the interesting facts about these 2 battlefields that you will hear
· is that they are the only ones in which the British soldiers wore flashes on their helmets. As the coloured flash became a target for Boer sharpshooters they were removed, as were the metal officers’ insignia and the Scottish troops covered their sporrans, with khaki cloth to prevent them reflecting the sunlight as they created a target for the Boers.
As you are at Elandslaagte and the Memorial gate entrance to Nambiti Game Reserve you may wish to arrange an evening game drive before returning to Dundee. This needs to be arranged in advance.
Depart Dundee 8.15
This tour takes you into the remoter rural areas of Zululand. The scenery is breath taking with spectacular views of deep valleys, high mountains and plateaus. Nature lovers will enjoy the variety of plants, trees and grasses.
The flowering aloes in winter are also a “must see”. There is plenty for bird lovers too as the area boasts a wide variety of bird species.
A visit to a rural homestead is the highlight of the day. THIS IS NOT PRE-ARRANGED - The visit is completely informal, not at all “set up” and you see the Zulu people the way they live everyday in these rural areas.
The guide will give detailed explanations of Zulu customs - handshakes, greetings, marriage etc and act as interpreter so that you may ask questions and gain an understanding of traditional rural life and customs. These are dignified people living in traditional homesteads and proud of their rich heritage.
Remember that there are no toilets in the areas, so one must be prepared to use the bush.
Request a packed lunch from your B&B.
Spionkop and The Siege of Ladysmith
Depart from Dundee at 8:00.
Visit Ladysmith, under siege for 118 days and described by Churchill as “famous to the uttermost ends of the earth: centre of the world’s attention, scene of famous deeds, the cause of mighty efforts”.
In the fascinating Siege Museum you will be able to get an insight into what it was like living in Ladysmith, of the weapons and tactics used by both sides and of the battles fought.
Visit the Soldiers Church and the look out point over Ladysmith from Convent hill.
Then travel on to Spionkop battlefield, one of the most famous and bloody of the battles. Spionkop, “the acre of massacre”, occupied by the British in the early hours of the 24th January 1900 and fought over desperately by Boer and British for all that day until nightfall. The British withdrawal left over 330 of their men dead and many more wounded in their trenches.
Listen to the heartrending tales of confusion, bravery, missed opportunities, introduction of new battle tactics as you move around the battle site, view the monuments to Boer and British, and stand in silence at the long mass grave of the British.
Note the Ladysmith Siege Museum is closed on Saturday afternoons and Sundays and so cannot be included in the tour. Alternative sites such as Platrand will be included.
Half day tours – below - can be combined to make a full day according to you personal preference.
Rock Art and Fort Pine
Depart Dundee 8.30
On the farm Sheepridge stands Fort Pine – originally built at a police post for the Natal Mounted Rifles and a defensive laager for civilians in case of attacks. With the stone walls still 12 feet high this is a splendid ruin, with an amazing story.
Thereafter visit rock art site at the shelter in the Rorke’s Drift area. These paintings are thousands of years older than sites in the Drakensberg.
Your guide will explain the symbolism of rock art, the daily life and culture of the San/Bushman in this area and the change in use of the shelter over time.
The views out over Zululand and towards the battlefields of Rorkes Drift and Isandlwana are superb.
Enjoy cream scones of the lodge verandah. On this farm you will see game as well as a glorius herd of Nguni cattle.
Louis Napoleon – Prince Imperial of France
Depart Dundee at 8:15
Visit the site where the young Prince Impérial, Louis Napoléon of France met his untimely fate on I June 1879, in the closing stages of the Anglo-Zulu War of 1879.
His poignant monument in the picturesque countryside is also the place where his mother (the Empress Eugénie) spent a solitary night on the anniversary of his death a year later.
By 1836 relations between the British rulers in the Cape and the Dutch settlers had reached an all- time low. They decided to pack-up their worldly goods load them onto covered wagons and head into the largely unknown interior of South Africa. Thus began in 1836 the exodus that would be recorded by history as ‘The Great Trek’!
The north, west and eastward movement of this exodus of Trekkers, who became known as Voortrekkers inevitably led to conflict with the indigenous peoples who inhabited the hinterland.
Trek leader Piet Retief and his party were killed at King Dingane’s capital of Mgungundlovu in February 1838. In December of that year Andries Pretorius led a commando consisting of 464 men to a strategic site on the banks of the Ncome (‘Praiseworthy’) river. The commando formed a defensive position with their 64 wagons (known as a laager) and awaited the Zulu onslaught.
The Zulu army attacked across the Ncome River . on Sunday 16th December 1838 - their strength estimated to be between 12,000 and 15,000. In the ensuing struggle approximately 3000 brave Zulu warriors perished. So many died it is said that the river ran red with blood, hence the modern day name – Blood River!
The Boer commando suffered no dead, only a small number of wounded.
Today visitors can view a replica laager, with 64 life-size ox-wagons cast in bronze at the site of the Blood River/Ncome Battlefield. Across the river is the Ncome memorial to the Zulu warriors who died in the battle. The Ncome Museum is a unique building, taking its shape from the Zulu battle formation, known as the ‘Horns of the Beast’, initiated by King Shaka kaSenzangakhona.
Maria Ratschitz Mission
Drive through the Wasbank valley to the magnificent site of Maria Ratschitz mission at the base of Hlatikulu mountain.
Established in 1882 this out station of Marianhill, has a wonderful history. The cathedral-like church has decorated interior walls, which have been restored to their original magnificence.
This peaceful place nestled in the foothills of the Biggarsberg Mountains was founded and built by the Trappists under the leadership of Abbot Francis Pfanner, in 1890.
The community around the mission flourished and many skills were imparted - farming, carpentry, metal work and general building. In 1892 a primary, senior and boarding school were established. The children received an excellent education.
As a consequence of forced removals in 1968 the entire complex ceased to function and went into decline.
The uninhabited buildings turned slowly into ruins. The majestic church also deteriorated.
In 1996 after receiving a large anonymous donation from Germany , the Diocese of Dundee embarked on the restoration of Maria Ratschitz. In 2000 the work was completed and today you can enjoy the peace and solitude of little piece of paradise!
Now a retirement home for nuns, a retreat and a remarkable site - peaceful, thought provoking and a visit that will remain in your minds and hearts for years’ to come.
Dundee Central Heritage Trail
Guided walking trail around the centre of Dundee.
Dundee and the surrounding area is rich in history and numerous historical buildings and sites are a testament to our past heritage. If only these buildings could talk – but your guide can and will keep you enthralled with the stories and the people associated with the buildings.
Includes a visit to the Gandhi museum and has access to churches and certain private buildings.
Book at the Dundee Tourism office.
The heritage trail that takes in buildings and sites of historical interest in Dundee, Glencoe and the district, is a combined project with Tourism Dundee and private sponsors.
Walking guided tours are offered starting at the Dundee Tourism office from 3pm-5pm on weekdays.
Weekends by special arrangement.