Capturing a Zulu Legacy

It is true when they say South Africa has something for everyone. Possibly the most interesting itinerary I have ever embarked on in the rainbow nation was that of the Zulu Legacy. While the country is rich in culture and history, I was intrigued to travel deep into Zululand and learn of bloodthirsty yet courageous battle’s that the native Zulu’s endured across a number of wars.

The Zulu Legacy – Kings, Warriors & Wildlife tour offers the perfect itinerary to step back in time and re-live the brutality, strength and rise and fall of the Zulu empire and its opponents. From Johannesburg out to the battlefields, through Hluhluwe, Imfolozi Park, St Lucia and ending in Durban, the itinerary takes you in the footsteps of the famous King Shaka to gain a deeper insight into Zulu culture, while still enjoying the majestic “Big 5” on Shaka’s original royal hunting grounds.

Zulu monument on the battlefieldFirst stop was Spioenkop, where a well-informed guide transported me back to January 1900 and the tragic battle between the Boer and Brits. Acting out the events and visiting the sites where it all took place sent an eerie shiver down my spine.  To further soak up the atmosphere, we stayed the night at Rorke’s Drift Hotel, situated on the Buffalo River at Rorke’s Drift and overlooking the historic crossing that gives the area its name.

The following days took in a visit around the eerie landscape of Isandlwana where 20,000 mighty Zulu warriors took on the firepower of the British troops. The area is scattered with grave sites from the fallen, a constant reminder of the past.  It is here that I found a greater appreciation for history, and how it has molded the present day.

Probably my favourite part of the itinerary was eMakhosini – Valley of the Zulu Kings. A visit to the Umgungundlovu Interpretive Centre and the Kwazulu Cultural Museum at Ondini explained more in depth the Zulu culture, battle tactics and the legends of Zulu Kings. Following on from here, I journeyed further through Kwazulu-Natal’s to the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Reserve, with an overnight stay at Emdoneni Lodge.

After a day of game driving through Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Game Park, I was further in awe of probably one of the best experiences you can have in South Africa. The Emdoneni Lodge Wild Cat Experience allows the opportunity to interact with some of Africa’s wild cats at the rehabilitation program.

The last day of this unique itinerary took me through St Lucia Estuary before heading on to Durban. An early morning departure by boat from the St Lucia Estuary took me cruising past wildlife in a different scenery.  Hippos gathered in pods, their beady eyes breaking the water’s surface as ears twitched. Crocodiles could be spotted sunning themselves on the river banks and the trees were full of exotic birdlife.  It was the perfect way to finish an adventure packed yet eye opening journey into the lives of Zulu warriors, courageous battles and legends that will long remain in my mind.

SOURCE: KarryOn – http://www.karryon.com.au/karryon-captures-a-zulu-legacy/

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Cheeky cheetah cuddles at Emdoneni Lodge

There is something quite exhilarating about sitting next to a cheetah – perhaps it’s the most obvious – the fear of being mauled alive and the anticipation of that happening with every flinch the spotted cat makes.So when I was told to lie down next to her and ‘cosy on up’ as if it was my husband, I must say my heart was beating out of my chest. As I ran my hand along her coarse patterned back, I could feel the vibrations of her purr. I may have been terrified, but she showed her enjoyment as she flexed her claws, retracting in and out of her massive paws.  This once in a lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with some of Africa’s wild cats is an experience Emdoneni Lodge prides itself on being able to offer guests.

Central to Zululand’s main attractions in Hluhluwe, Emdoneni Lodge and Cheetah in SA on KarryOnGame Farm offers an intimate guest experience. The lodge’s chalets and rondavels are the perfect place to base yourself, with spectacular surroundings to enjoy while you unwind and relax after a day exploring the area. Less than two hours from Durban, Emdoneni Lodge offers a dinner, bed and breakfast basis, allowing guests to sample the delights of true South African hospitality and cuisine. A Boma and sundowner deck is the perfect place to enjoy a few evening drinks and discuss your day with fellow guests.

While the lodge itself is an experience of South African adventure, their Cat Rehabilitation Centre is the ‘cherry on top’. The interactive tour gives guests the opportunity to learn more about South Africa’s endangered wildcat species, while giving a hands-on engaging experience.My visit included the chance to get close to some serval cats, african wildcats and Caracals (Lynx) that had been brought to the Centre as orphans or due to injury in the wild. Remembering that these are still wild animals, there was a sense of caution stepping into each enclosure.  This was not helped as the experienced guide decided to throw a piece of the meat he had been feeding the caracal at my feet.  As the Caracal pounced on this part of his dinner, I could not help but think my toes would be next.  To the entertainment of everyone else, the caracal gave me the first of my up close and personal experience as promised.

The finale was yet to come however, as the group moved into the cheetah enclosure. Here the group took turns in spending time with two of the most beautiful cheetahs I had laid eyes on. Learning about how fast and agile these streamline animals are does not exactly assist with the nerves. The interaction was more hands on than I imagined and when the time came to leave I felt a sense of amazement.  There are many experiences you can enjoy in South Africa, but hands down this one was up there with the best of them.