The Zulu War

The Washing of the Spears


Tour Introduction

This fascinating study of the Anglo-Zulu War takes us to ground that has hardly changed since the memorable events of the period, all set amongst spectacular scenery still populated by Zulu tribes and an abundance of wildlife. As well as visiting the battle sites of Isandlwana, Rorke’s Drift and others that have gone down in British military folklore, we will be discussing the men, armies and tactics of both sides, their problems, successes and failures. We will be in the very capable hands of Ian Knight whose book Zulu Rising received great critical acclaim and adds to his body of meticulously researched books on the war and on Zulu culture.
But this is much more than ‘just’ a battlefield tour: Ian has been visiting South Africa for more than 30 years and knows the ground and its people well. We will be staying in comfortable lodges and hotels, and have ample opportunity to observe the local people and customs as well as participating in a game drive featuring many of Africa’s best loved animals such as the elephant, rhino, giraffe, zebra, leopard and antelope.

After many years we believe we now have the definitive Zulu War tour nicely balanced with cultural experience – led by an expert who is both an enthusiastic guide and very good company.


First annexed by Britain in the Napoleonic Wars, the Cape of Good Hope was a vital position on the route to the Far East, but South Africa never rivalled India in importance within the Empire. And yet the battles between Queen Victoria's red-coated battalions and the lightly armed Zulu forces have remained vibrant in the memory of both adversaries as few other imperial events have done.

In 1879, with Britain at the height of her imperial power, Lord Chelmsford's three columns marched into Zululand on a punitive expedition to teach the Zulu King Cetshwayo a lesson. Two equally professional armies with totally different fighting traditions and weapons met and fought with startling results. At Isandhlwana the Zulus inflicted the most humiliating defeat of the Victorian era on the over-confident British battalions. Yet hours later the small number of determined and well-led defenders at Rorke's Drift drove off repeated Zulu attacks and captured the public’s admiration. In the end the rifle inevitably triumphed over the spear. It is a story of arrogance and determination, traditions and innovations, but above all amazing individual bravery on both sides. The old Zulu nation was destroyed – but at the cost of a significant dent to British military prestige.


  • With Zulu War Historian, Ian Knight
  • Isandlwana & Rorke's Drift
  • Wild African scenery; wildlife game drive
  • Superb game lodge and hotel accommodation

"I had the holiday / tour of a lifetime. Ian Knight is superb a diamond in fact"


Day 1 - Depart

Overnight flight from London Heathrow to Johannesburg.

Day 2 – Durban

Internal flight to Durban. The Southern column: The Ultimatum Tree and Fort Pearson, high above the Tugela River. Overnight in Princes Grant on the Indian Ocean Coast.

Day 3 – The Battlefields of Gingindlovu and Inyezane

Drive up to the mission station at Eshowe, converted to a fort by the men of Pearson's column. Lunch at Fort Nongqayi. Overnight at Shakaland with Zulu dancing after dinner.

Day 4 - Shakaland

We drive deep into Zulu country to visit Cetshwayo's grave. After lunch at Shakaland we are introduced to the culture and customs of the Zulu people and stay a second night.

Day 5 - Ulundi, the final battle of the Zulu War

We visit the royal homestead at Ondini. Picnic lunch before moving on to Ithala Game Reserve, where we stay for 4 nights.

Day 6 - Ntombi Spruit

With time to walk around this little known action - wade across and explore both sides! We re-join Wood's column at Hlobane to hear about the confusion and tragedy on the mountain.

Day 7 – Hlobane Mountain

If you are fit enough you can make an early start and walk right across Hlobane Mountain and down the Devil's Pass. For the less adventurous there are pleasant walks around the camp and time to relax. A game drive in the afternoon amid spectacular views.

Day 8 - Kambula

We explore the battlefield of Kambula and contrast the success there with the shambles of Hlobane.

Day 9 – Blood River & Prince Imperial

Travel by way of the Voortrekker Blood River battlefield to the memorial which commemorates the spot where France’s Prince Imperial was killed. On to Isandlwana/Rorkes Drift area for a 4 night stay at our wonderfully sited lodge.

Days 10 & 11 – Battle of Isandlwana

During these two days we hear the full story of the battle of Isandlwana, including the Ngwabeni Valley and the spur where the Zulu commander controlled his regiments' attacks. There is time to visit the outpost line and the memorial to the artillery; Black's Koppie, Younghusband's plateau and Durnford's Donga. We drive out to the hills where Lord Chelsmford took half his force to look for the Zulu army. You can follow the Fugitive's Trail if you are fit enough and the river is not too high, or hear the story from the heights above the river at Fugitives Drift where we visit the memorial to Coghill and Melville.

Day 12 - Rorke’s Drift

A full day at Rorke's Drift and there is much to see. Down at the Buffalo River crossing, and at the mission station the great story will be enthrallingly told by Ian as the great climax to the dramatic events of 1879.

Day 13 – Johannesburg

Return to Johannesburg with lunch en-route. Overnight return flight to London.

Day 14 – Arrive

Early morning arrival at London Heathrow.

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The Zulu War

Tour Dates

7th - 20th March 2018 (14 Days)

Return flights from London, internal flight, 3 and 4 star hotels, buffet breakfast, all lunches, 3-course dinner with drinks each evening, all entrance fees and expert guide throughout.

Activity Level: 2/3

Guide: Ian Knight

Tour price: £4,495

Single supplement: £525

Deposit: £400

Price without flights: £3,895

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