On January 22, 1897 during the Zulu War, 1,200 British soldiers, Natal Native Infantry and Natal Police of the 1st Battalion, 24th Foot were massacred by a force of around 12,000 Zulu warriors at the Battle of Isandlwana. It was at that time the worst disaster in British military history as a modern British army equipped with rifles and artillery was totally destroyed by a native force armed only with short stabbing spears and hide shields.
Today at the bottom of a hill that was used by the Zulu commander to run the battle lays Isandlwana Lodge. This historic location features magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and plains of Zululand that stretch for 50 miles.
The Lodge itself (built by 2 American women) is small, having only 12 en-suite guest rooms. It has a pool that is built into the rocks, a lounge, a restaurant, and a library. It would be wise to make reservations well in advance.
The guest rooms all offer private balcony views of Isandlwana Mountain and are decorated in a combination of traditional and modern style. The restaurant fare is a unique combination of Continental and African flavor.
But although the Isandlawana Lodge is a nice, comfortable place to hang out and relax, the Lodge itself is not the primary reason why the place is so popular – it’s what can be done there.
The Isandlawana battlefield and the surrounding areas represent a perspective of a part of South African culture not readily known or understood by outsiders. The British Empire wanted to subjugate the Zulu people under their control and invaded Zululand from Natal. The immediate result was the Battle of Isandlawana, followed by the Battle of Rorke’s Drift.
Weaving their ways throughout this historic area are horse trails, birding tours, and hiking trails, battlefield tours and safaris. And the historic city of Pietermaritzburg and the coastal city of Durban (with its beach) are around 4 hours away.
There are two actual battlefield tours. One is of the actual Isandlawana battlefield itself, while the other is the site of the nearby Rorke’s Drift battlefield. These tours are overseen by a resident historian who really brings these two battles to life.
There is also a Zulu village tour where visitors can learn about the ways, customs, and history of these remarkable people. For many, this tour is one of the more popular things to do at the Lodge.
concerning Isandlawa Lodge literally gush at the outstanding service and hospitality that the Lodge provides. More gushing is paid towards the view which is both peaceful and magnificent.
A stay at the Isandlwana Lodge may be a little unusual and is definitely off the beaten path, but those who have stayed there will swear that it’s definitely worth it.