BIG 5/GAME DRIVE EXPERIENCE
The area surrounding Nambiti is steeped in history. Originally occupied by San Bushmen, Zulu tribes and European settlers later moved into the area where the future path of South Africa would subsequently be forged in fire and written in blood.
Three great nations came to blows here in the Anglo-Boer, Anglo-Zulu and Zulu-Boer Wars and the surrounding area has the largest concentration of battlefields in South Africa.
It is here that the military engagements that were to shape the course of South African and world history, and rock the pedestal of the British Empire, raged over thorny hills and sweeping grasslands.
It was among the picturesque hills and rock formations of this sweeping landscape that fearless, spear-wielding footsoldiers of the all-conquering Zulu kings first encountered the British Empire’s sophisticated firepower and where each faced the unfamiliar guerilla-warfare tactics of the Boer – descendants of the west European settlers who five generations earlier had claimed divine right to this ‘Promised Land’.
Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi, General Louis Botha and Shaka all loomed large as the battles raged; Gandhi, for instance, was a stretcher-bearer for the British wounded at Spioenkop.
Among the dramatic battles that raged here in the 19th century, the ground that now forms part of Nambiti Private Game Reserve once took centre stage in a key 2nd Anglo-Boer War encounter, providing the tragically beautiful setting for the 1899 Battle of Elandslaagte in which four Victoria Crosses were won.
It was here where both protagonists squared up to each other, as the precursor to the Siege of Ladysmith, taking positions in the northern section of the reserve close to where the reserve’s Memorial Gate entrance is now located off the D46 dirt road.
The battle was both fascinating and unique for a number of reasons, including the capture and looting of a supply train, including large quantities of whiskey which some historians believe had a hand in the Boer defeat the next day; a cavalry charge in which modern rifles were used, controversy over a flag truce, a contingent of foreign fighters, a raging thunderstorm and incredible bravery.
Other well-known battles that occurred in the area are those at Spioenkop, Blood River, Thukela Heights, Colenso, Vaalkrantz and the Siege of Ladysmith. Nambiti is also within close proximity to the famous Anglo-Zulu battlefields of Isandlwana, Rorkes Drift, Blood River (Ncome), and Fugitives Drift.
The reserve boasts numerous sites of historical significance, including the remnants of British stone fortifications built for the 1899 Battle of Elandslaagte and a remarkable terraced gun emplacement site for cannons erected by the British during the 1879 Anglo-Zulu War. Old homesteads and cattle kraals are scattered across the reserve.
Today, two poignant memorials on opposite hills pay tribute to the gallant soldiers who fell on both sides. The memorials can be found within a 15m radius of the reserve’s northern boundary fence, with the British memorial located just 5m from the reserve’s northern entrance, known as the Memorial Gate in honour of the fallen, and the Boer memorial further down the road, 15m to the east.
Nambiti is honoured to preserve the history of that 1899 encounter by helping the Commonwealth War Graves Commission maintain both British and Boer war graves.
During our twice-daily guided game drives through the reserve, Cheetah Ridge Lodge guests will encounter the following: