Fugitives’ Drift Lodge is perfect for travellers with a keen interest in the history of the Anglo-Zulu War! The lodge provides a peaceful base from which to explore the area. This area includes the final resting place of Teignmouth Melvill 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 Isandhlwana, 1879. The lodge is 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. It is suitable for many types of traveller, and its setting is ideal for keen history buffs. Wildlife enthusiasts are well served too!
ACCESS & LOCATION:
This region of KwaZulu-Natal may be accessed via road transfer from the international airport at Durban, or from other towns within the Cape. Fugitives’ Drift is well signposted, and sturdy black gates mark the entrance point.
ACCOMMODATION & FACILITIES:
The lodge 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 is 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!
Guest accommodation at Fugitives’ Drift Lodge consists of eight cottages on the site of the original homestead. All are spacious and comfortable, with a standing fan, a double 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, and bathtub. 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 is possible to see all the way out to the Buffalo River Gorge!
A great range of activities is available here. Tours of the battlefields are absolutely fascinating, featuring talks about the Anglo-Zulu War delivered by members of the Rattray family and some very knowledgeable guides. The excursions include walks, and the guides are happy to accommodate all levels of mobility. There are also tours especially for visitors aged 12 years and under. These are shorter and with more of an interactive element than the classic tours, aiming to really engage the children!
Following a look around the battlefields, the youngsters then move to the reserve to check out wildebeest, kudu, giraffe, zebra, jackals, monkeys, and spiky porcupines. This activity is available for adults too. The reserve is explored via walks, drives, bike rides, and on horseback! Fishing is on offer in the Buffalo River, the body of water that witnessed the last moments of lieutenants Melvill and Coghill. And there is some brilliant birding too – highlights of the reserve are purple crested lourie and yellow weaver.