Fugitives’ Drift Lodge is perfect for travellers who have a keen interest in the history of the Anglo-Zulu War! It provides a peaceful base from which to explore the Battlefields region.
The lodge is one of four properties situated in Fugitives’ Drift, a Natural Heritage Site covering over 2,000 hectares. It’s owned and run by the Rattray family, which until 2007 included David Rattray, a historian of the 1879 war and a first-rate tour guide. The area includes the final resting place of Teignmouth Melville and Nevill Coghill, lieutenants who served in the British Army during the Anglo-Zulu War. Both Melvill and Coghill were killed while attempting to save the Queen’s Colour of their regiment following the defeat of the army at the Battle of Isandlwana, 1879. Suitable for many types of travellers, Fugitives’ Drift is ideal for keen history buffs. The accommodation is usually booked on a full-board basis and the lodge is open throughout the year.
Access & location:
This region of KwaZulu-Natal may be accessed via 4 hours’ road transfer from the international airport at Durban or 5 hours’ drive from O. R. Tambo International Airport at Johannesburg. It can also be approached from other towns within Natal. Fugitives’ Drift is well signposted, and sturdy black gates mark the entrance point.
Accommodation & facilities at Fugitives Drift Lodge:
Guest accommodation consists of ten cottages on the site of the original homestead. All are spacious and comfortable, with air conditioning, a standing fan, a king bed or twin beds, bedside tables and lighting, a tea-and-coffee station, ample storage space, and a separate seating area with a table and a couple of chairs. The en-suite facilities comprise flush toilet, twin washbasins, bathtub, and both inside and outside showers. Each cottage’s windows provide superb views out on to the reserve, and you can also relax and marvel at the sweeping plains from your private veranda. It’s possible to see all the way out to the Buffalo River Gorge! Families with young children may be able to book interleading rooms. Please note, for families with children under the age of 6 years, we always request a room where the balcony is flush with the ground or a room without a balcony for safety reasons. If you stay here with us, please ensure that either of these options are allocated to you.
The lodge at Fugitives’ Drift is surrounded by gardens and has a pleasant homely feel. Its communal areas include an open-plan lounge and dining space. The lounge has comfortable armchairs and sofas around a chunky coffee table, adjacent to a cosy fireplace, while guests are invited to dine at long tables flanked by elegant upright chairs. The most striking aspect of this room, however, is its walls, which display a treasure trove of war memorabilia, such as flags, prints, and weapons. Outside, there’s a very well-constructed fire-pit, in the shade of trees and partly ringed by a stone wall. Guests may relax in the lovely gardens too and take a cooling dip in the swimming pool. The grounds also include Harford Library, a wonderful events venue named after Henry ‘Charlie’ Harford, a Staff Officer with a passion for entomology. Harford was David Rattray’s favourite personality of all the characters involved in the Anglo-Zulu War!
Activities at Fugitives Drift Lodge:
A great range of activities is available here.
Battlefields tours- Tours of the battlefields are incredibly fascinating, featuring talks about the Anglo-Zulu War delivered by members of the Rattray family as well as very knowledgeable guides. These excursions include walks, the guides are happy to accommodate all levels of mobility. Tours for children, which have an interactive element, are available too.
Reserve tours- There are numerous trails around the lodge’s reserve, which contains giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, kudu, jackals, monkeys, and spiky porcupines. Looking around the reserve usually follows a tour of the battlefields.
Hiking- If you’re feeling energetic, why not take a hike? As you roam the reserve, you can look out for beautiful birdlife, add least purple-crested lourie and yellow weaver.
Biking- The reserve has a network of single tracks for keen bikers, varying from flat to steep. There’s several jeep tracks too. The lodge doesn’t provide bikes, but arrangements can be made if you’d like us to.
Fishing- Keen anglers can enjoy fishing on the Buffalo River, the body of water that witnessed the last moments of lieutenants Melvill and Coghill.
Guided or unguided nature walks- The reserve contains plenty of walking trails, and guests can set off on either guided or self-guided walks. You can have a lot of fun identifying various plants, insects, and birds; and if you opt for a guided walk, your guide will provide a wealth of information about a few plants’ medicinal uses.
Other historical tours- Please note, these trips are subject to the availability of a guide and they require advance booking. They consist of the Fugitives’ Trail walk from Isandlwana to the lodge (a relatively demanding excursion that might include swimming), Blood River, the Prince Imperial Site, Mangeni Falls, Masondo, Hlobane, and Kambula.