Zululand, in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province, is rooted in the legacy of the great Zulu nation, providing ample opportunity to explore this fascinating culture. Numerous provincial and private game reserves showcase the region’s abundant biodiversity, affording visitors an authentic African safari experience or a sample of history along the Battlefields Route through Vryheid.
Meet at the airport and drive to Madaka Game Ranch. Sundowner game drive at Madaka Game Ranch. Dinner around the campfire in the African bush.
Visit the Battle fields of Bloodriver and Rorkes drift. The Battle of Blood is the name given for the battle fought between 470 Voortrekkers, led by Andries Pretorius, and an estimated 10,000–15,000 Zulu attackers on the bank of the Ncome River on 16 December 1838, in what is today KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Casualties amounted to three thousand of king Dingane's soldiers dead, including two Zulu princes competing with prince Mpande for the Zulu throne. Three Trekker commando members were lightly wounded, including Pretorius himself.
The Battle of Rorke's Drift, also known as the Defence of Rorke's Drift, was a battle in the Anglo-Zulu War. The defence of the mission station of Rorke's Drift, under the command of Lieutenant John Chard of the Royal Engineers, immediately followed the British Army's defeat at the Battle of Isandlwana on 22 January 1879, and continued into the following day, 23 January. Just over 150 British and colonial troops successfully defended the garrison against an intense assault by 3,000 to 4,000 Zulu warriors. The massive, but piecemeal, Zulu attacks on Rorke's Drift came very close to defeating the tiny garrison but were ultimately repelled. Eleven Victoria Crosses were awarded to the defenders, along with a number of other decorations and honours.
Madaka Game Ranch has a private entrance to Ithala game reserve. We will have an early start to make sure that we do not miss out on the elephants, rhino, buffalo etc. in Ithala. This magnificent reserve, tumbling from the heights of the Ngotshe Mountains a thousand meters down into a deep valley, carved over the eons by the Phongolo River revealing the world`s oldest rock formations, is a game viewers paradise. Situated in the rugged, mountainous thornveld of northern KwaZulu-Natal, Ithala Game Reserve`s multitude of habitats host a spectacular array of wildlife species. Its scenic beauty aside, Ithala`s most characteristic feature is perhaps its astonishing geological diversity. Some of the oldest rock formations in the world are found here, dating back 3 000 million years.
Visit a traditional Zulu village. The residents of the umuzi (homestead or village), form part of the living museum. Daily, they carry out age- old manufacturing traditions and perform dance routines for visitors. DumaZulu means 'thunder of heaven'. You will witness the manufacturing of spears, shields, clay pots, intricate beadwork, basket-weaving and spectacular Zulu dances.
llala Weavers is a family owned business situated in the town of Hluhluwe in North – eastern Kwazulu Natal. The business trades a range of African fibre products, beaded products and other locally produced handicrafts. It is best known for trading hand woven Zulu baskets made from Ilala Palm fibres, produced traditionally by women in the Zululand and Maputaland regions of Northern KZN.
Ilala Weavers commissions and buys handmade products from a range of communities in the region, and either wholesales these products or retails them through its own shop at the Ilala Weavers “headquarters” in Hluhluwe. Although this “headquarters” started out as a shop, it has been developed into a tourist destination that includes a restaurant, Zulu culture museum and accommodation facility. The offices of Ilala Weavers are also based here.
Ilala Weavers is the largest wholesaler of handwoven crafts in South Africa. It has played an important role in keeping handcraft skills alive in Northen Kwazulu Natal through an age where the local market for these products for home use has diminished almost to nothing. It also provides income generation opportunities for more than 2000 people in this predominantly rural region that has very few employment opportunities. Furthermore in supplying traditional Zulu handcrafts to overseas markets, Ilala Weavers has played an important role in profiling South African products and cultural artefacts.
After lunch, we visit Emdoneni Cat Rehabilitation Centre. Their aim is to care for wild Cheetahs, Serval Cats, African Wildcats and Caracal (Lynx), which have been orphaned or injured in the wild and are in need of care and rehabilitation. They also intend to breed, where possible, and release the offspring back into their natural habitat. The Emdoneni Cat Rehabilitation Project was started by Ida Nel, whom always had a passion and love for wild animals, especially cheetah. Ida received the first 2 cheetahs from Namibia (Nandi & Jabu) in 1994. They both died of old age over the last 2 years. Both were between the ages of 16–18 years (captivity). Not long after receiving the original cheetahs, they received one injured serval – and then it all happened; Emdoneni Lodge Animal Care started. People learned that injured or orphaned cat species could be brought there for care and love. The centre is working closely with KZN Parks Board who assists them in releasing off-spring back into the wild.
Hiking to waterfall on Madaka Game Ranch. Madaka Game Ranch has two streams running trough the Ranch, the Mbizo and Madaka River. The beautiful hike down the gorge is something spectacular; do not forget your swimwear! Picnic at the waterfall. Later in the afternoon, we will take you to our Protea site. The Saddle back sugar bush (Protea Comptonii) is a tree with a spreading crown that can reach up to 8 m in height. Only two populations are known, one in the mountains above Baberton, the other one here at Madaka Game Ranch. This species of protea is on the IUCN red list for threatened species. It is highly localised on steep south-facing slopes on quartzite outcrops in grassy savanna. It does, however, appear to be abundant or in pure stands in places. This species is legally protected throughout its range. The species is sensitive to frequent burning and appears to have low recruitment. Plants are also heavily grazed by large game animals and the bark is removed for use in traditional medicine by local people.
Today we will experience some wildlife next to the rivers of South Africa. Combine game viewing & bird watching from the tranquility of the water. The Pongola River, broad and perennial, meanders through the center of the reserve before entering the man-made 13 276 hectare lake. It provides a leisure environment unique for a South African bushveld destination. Safari cruises, are among the main activities.
The area is home to many typical plains game species, four of the Big Five (excluding Lion), Hippopotamus and Crocodile. It is also a birding "hotspot". Over 350 species have so far been recorded here.
Come and enjoy an up-close-and-personal meeting with Rambo, Rachel and Jabulani, our habituated elephants.
One of our knowledgeable rangers will talk you through Rambo and Rachel’s history and provide you with interesting facts about elephants.
You will be given an opportunity to feed Rambo and Rachel, as well as touch Rambo’s ears, behind his tusks, between his front legs, and even get to feel his tongue!
In the morning, we will take you on a early game drive on Madaka Game Ranch. Madaka Game Ranch has 33 different animal species and 40 different bird species.
After brunch, we will depart back to Johannesburg for your flight back home. We will arrive at the airport at 4pm or at your desired guesthouse close to the airport.