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DateOriginal Topic
9th October 2003Travel advice
By Phil R.
I would very much appreciate some advice on my visit to KwaZulu Natal that I have planned for January 2004. After 30-odd years of thinking about it, I'm actually going to visit Rorke's Drift! When my wife has mentioned our trip to friends, several of them raised the subject of crime and tourist safety in South Africa generally, and KwaZulu Natal in particular.

Having been a daily visitor to this website for the last year or so, it's clear that many contributors to the discussion forum have visited the area themselves. So I thought I might ask people with first-hand knowledge if they have had any problems, or have any advice. I can then put her mind at rest and look forward to something I've wanted to do since my Grandfather took me to see the film nearly 40 years ago.

My wife and I will be flying to Durban, staying at the Phinda Reserve, then on to the Rorke's Drift area (we'll be there on January 22nd & 23rd), then Spion Kop, and finally the Drakensberg Mountains. We will be driving ourselves between the various sites, and this seems to be her main cause for concern.

Any advice would be much appreciated.
DateReplies
9th October 2003Martin Everett
Dear Phil,
You will find that David Rattray's guidebook on the Anglo-Zulu War Battlefields has useful tips. See shop.

You may find hiring a local guide useful to ensure do not miss anything. Althuogh they may be busy over the 22-24 January, but cnotact Decima Jones in the Toursit Information Office in Dundee (tel:0341 22121).

See you there.
9th October 2003neil aspinshaw
Phil
I am going over in January too with my mate Jonesy. We are there over the anniversary (staying at Fugitives Drift Lodge).
Last year we hired a motor from Avis at Joberg, They drive on the right side of the road and there "n" motorways are a doddle.
We tried to avoid staying in Joberg for to long and headed straight off to RD.
Petrol is muck cheap, (compared to UK). Be careful of massively overlaoded Hiace taxi vans with about 50 people in them, they have the tendancy to swerve all over the place. The main R routes around RD and Isandlwana are basically dirt roads which we found turned into skating rinks after a flash downpour so we drove steady!!. On the motorways watch out for speed traps, we saw half a dozen on the N3, they have spot fines, also make sure you have change for the toll roads as they don't accept uk plastic!.
We found cash is king at petrol stations as you are served at the pumps in most places, they tend to get a bit sore if you wander off to pay at the desk, as they miss out on a tip!.
As with any unknown we didn't take any risks, but we found the KZN people very friendly. We found ourselves in some townshp by accident on the way back to Joberg, we turned around and headed away quick.
As Martin says buy David Rattrays book, I wished we had it last year as we found (with hindsighth) that it is an excellent read as well as a super local guide.
I can vouch for the trips that Fugitives drift run, talking to some of the regulars at the RAM lectures in Feb, they reccommended trips run by Isandlwana lodge. so theres a few for starters. Check out the links on this site.

If you see two anoraks wandering aimlessly about Isandlwana on the 22nd Jan, that'l probably be me and Jonesy!.
Neil


9th October 2003Cliv Dickens
Phil
I have beenvover to South Africa three times and what I will say to you is just use your head people out there are very poor so do not flash valuables and money and heed the advice of your guides I myself would not go into certain places in the cities of England
so do out there what you would do at home just be sensible What I would also say is take a few sweets out for the children they love them
Have a great time
Clive
9th October 2003sally
try Isandlwana Lodge, built overlooking Isandlwana battlefield - magnificent spot, magnificent building, and wondeful tour guide -Rob gerrard.
They can also arrange transport to collect and deliver you from Jhb or Durban
contact [email protected]
9th October 2003Melvin Hunt
Phil
I visited the battlefelds for the first time last Oct. travelling with my wife in a hire car from Durban. Ocasionally we found ourselves on some dirt roads with very little or no other traffic. Punctures are always a threat so take an extra spare wheel and a mobile phone. Some car hire firms offer this service. Security can be a problem with just the two of you. Its easy to feel intimidated but we only felt uneasy in Durban. The local people in Zululand were very friendly. As Clive says, you use common sense and don't flash the valuables. I second what Sally says about the Lodge. If you want any more info feel free to e mail me.
11th October 2003A M Banks
Some thoughts:
1. The Isandhlwana Lodge is excellent, although not cheap!
2. Make sure your hire car is from one of the big firms - if you have problems, you can change it at Richards Bay.
3. Always have your wits about you wherever you are in Zululand.
4. Be very careful when driving at night - the cows wander about all over the roads & sometimes very hard to see [keep your speed down].
5. Ron Lock in Pine Town is an excellent guide - find him on the net.
6. Enjoy!

AMB
12th October 2003bill.cainan
Neil

Did you really drive on the RIGHT in Zululand ? That must have been really scary !

Bill
12th October 2003Peter Ewart
Phil

Above all, when driving in rural areas learn to drive with one hand on the wheel. The other will be constantly required for returning the cheerful waves you'll receive from smiling pedestrians. In fact, on the smooth red-earth roads they will demonstrate a touching faith in your steering ability as you'll probably miss them only by a hair's breadth.

Peter
13th October 2003Phil R.
Gentlemen

Thank you all for your advice. As usual, you've all been very helpful. Hope to see some of you there in January!

Phil & Louisa
13th October 2003Neil Aspinshaw
Bill
I meant the right side, i.e the left, its these foreigners who drive on the wrong side of right. But then as Sargeant Maxfield did say "by the right!".

confused?