David and Nicky Rattray were the great pioneers of Heritage Tourism in South Africa, creating award-winning facilities for visitors to savour the extraordinary saga of the Zulu empire. Fugitives' Drift Lodge in particular is the perfect place to stay for battlefield tours to Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift.
Tragically David Rattray passed away in 2007 but his foundation continues as his son Andrew has stepped into his shoes and now leads the battlefield tours himself. The 500 acre Fugitives' Drift Game Reserve, which is set on the lip of the Buffalo River Gorge overlooking the battlefield of Isandlwana and home to giraffe, zebra and numerous species of antelope and birds, continues on under Andrew's new leadership.
The family run lodge is a museum of artefacts, relics and memorabilia and has eight spacious, en-suite cottages, each with a private veranda affording views over the plains flanking the gorge.
The new Hartford Library offers a fantastic venue for everything from lunches to celebrating special occasions. Activities other than historical tours include walks, cycling, horse-riding and fly-fishing.
Fugitives Drift is wonderful family run lodge, and perfect for a two or three night stay, and even better when combined with a stay at Three Tree Hill Lodge or another of the fabulous boutique lodges and safari areas in the region. Three Tree Hill is an easy 3 Â½ hour drive.
Why We Love It
The team at Fugitives' Drift is world-renowned for their moving and compelling tours to the battlefields of Isandlwana and Rorke's Drift; (now lead by Andrew himself) one an ignominious defeat, the other a defence that saw 11 Victoria Crosses awarded in a single action.
Hartford House is in the heart of the Giant's Castle region of the Drakensberg Mountains in Natal, an area famous for famous stud farms.
The accommodation consists of 15 suites, four of which are right on a picturesque lake and with their own private pools. The remaining suites overlook the beautiful gardens, the rose garden or the surrounding farmland. The bedrooms all have under-floor heating and fireplaces.
The hotel is right next door to the famous Summerhill stud, where royalty from the UAE keep their finest horses. Horse lovers in particular will love the tour around the stud and bridle paths. The award-winning restaurant serves delicious meals on the attractive terrace of in the elegant dining room, and Chef Jacqueline Cameron is generally regarded as the finest in KwaZulu Natal. Activities other than eating include trout fishing, tennis and golf and pampering treatments at the wellness centre.
Why We Love It
Before transforming into a luxurious hotel and stud farm, Hartford was home to the family of Natal's last Prime Minister, and is generally regarded as one of South Africa's most beautiful houses.
Thonga Beach Lodge
Set on the pristine shores of the Maputuland coast, this 12-room luxury lodge is the ideal place to discover the coastal forests, grasslands, bush, shimmering lakes and sandy beaches of Mabibi.
Set above a secluded bay, Thonga Beach Lodge is in a beautiful coastal dune forest with sweeping views of the stunning beach below. The spacious, thatched suites are hidden in the coastal dune forest and raised on wooden stilts to ensure no harm comes to the delicate dune soils.
Some rooms offer sea views, whilst others are set within the dune forest, and all have private balconies and are decorated with bleached wood, glass and natural materials to create an open, airy feel. The en-suite rooms have a bathroom with bath and shower. The lounge with its comfortable couches and a cosy fireplace offers spectacular views of the beach and is the ideal spo (other than by the pool) to relax with a sundowner. Activities from the lodge include snorkelling, diving, bird-watching, wilderness walks, fishing and turtle spotting.
Why We Love It
The crystal clear, warm waters offer South Africa's best snorkelling and excellent diving.