Fugitives’ Drift Guest House is absolutely ideal for travellers who have a keen interest in the history of the Anglo-Zulu War! The Guest House provides a charming base from which to explore the battlefields and the reserve. The Guest House is owned and run by the Rattray family. Until 2007, their numbers included David Rattray, a historian of the 1879 war and an exceptionally good tour guide. The gardens of the Guest House contain a plaque honouring his memory, and the eight cottages that make up fellow property Fugitives’ Drift Lodge are built on the original David Rattray Homestead. Nature fans will appreciate the reserve for its wealth of wildlife.
ACCESS & LOCATION:
To access this region of KwaZulu-Natal, travellers may self-drive from the international airport at Durban or from other towns within the Cape. Fugitives’ Drift is clearly signposted, and with sturdy black gates at the entrance.
ACCOMMODATION & FACILITIES:
The Guest House is prettily situated within gardens and has a very welcoming feel. It was once the home of renowned storyteller Johan Potgieter – ‘Mr Pot’ – and family. The communal areas include an open-plan lounge and dining room. The lounge contains well-cushioned seating around a coffee table, as well as a cosy woodburning stove. On the other side of the room there is a dining table and smart upright chairs, where guests can tuck into meals together. Both lounge and dining space feature memorabilia from the Anglo-Zulu War, such as art prints and weaponry. Outside, there is an additional area with views of the Isandhlwana mountain, in addition to a large fire pit, the beautiful gardens, and a swimming pool. There is Harford Library too, an excellent events venue named after Henry ‘Charlie’ Harford. Charlie was a Staff Officer with a considerable enthusiasm for entomology. He was also David Rattray’s favourite character among all the persons involved in the Anglo-Zulu War!
Guest accommodation at Fugitives’ Drift Guest House consists of six cottages amidst the grounds. These are comfortable and spacious, featuring a double bed or twin beds, bedside tables and lighting, a tea-and-coffee station, plenty of storage space, and a separate lounge area with a couple of chairs and a coffee table. The en-suite facilities comprise flush toilet with wooden seat, large washbasin, bathtub, and separate shower. Outside, there is a private veranda, with amazing views out onto the sprawling plains of the reserve and Buffalo River Gorge beyond!
An exciting range of activities is available from Fugitives’ Drift. These include battlefields tours, featuring talks about the Anglo-Zulu War by members of the Rattray family and some highly knowledgeable guides. These excursions can involve a lot of walking, and the guides are happy to accommodate all mobility levels. Tours are also on offer for visitors aged 12 years and under. These are shorter than the usual tours and with more of an interactive element, which really engages the children! After their look around the battlefields, the youngsters can enjoy some time in the reserve, checking out such species as wildebeest, kudu, giraffe, zebra, jackals, monkeys, and spiky porcupines. Of course, adults can explore the reserve too! There are a number of ways for everyone to do this – walks, drives, bike rides, and on horseback. You can also go fishing in the Buffalo River. And birding is pretty special too – you can look out for the colourful purple crested lourie and yellow weaver!
The area includes the graves of two lieutenants who served in the British Army during the Anglo-Zulu War – Teignmouth Melvill and Nevill Coghill. Both were slain while trying to save the Queen’s Colour of their regiment after the army’s defeat at the 1879 Battle of Isandhlwana.