Just the last 20 minutes of your journey will be on well maintained gravel road and the remainder is ‘on the tar’. The journey from the Indian Ocean coast at Durban is some four hours and from Johannesburg a driving time of five hours should be allowed. The Drakensberg Mountains are just two hours to the West. The extract from the survey map on the right shows the hotel site in yellow and the battlesite is just 800m SSW.
James Rorke’s original Drift across the Buffalo River is across the islands just 100m to the West of the hotel site and within our grounds. Detailed directions to be used with a map are on this downloadable document:- Directions 3a Rorke’s Drift is shown on most tourist maps and will be found SE of Dundee and we have two good tar roads on either side, the R33 to & from Greytown and the R68 through Nqutu.
Directions from all points of the compass are on the page below. Do not rely too much on your GPS navigator since the input data is not always reliable, eg. the missing bridge over The Buffalo River and its road! A good map will enhance your journey and for touring in our part of The Province we suggest ISBN 978-1-77026-099-3. Even this does not show our local roads accurately so please trust the proven directions. For a weather forecast please go our Links page.
On Location – for movie buffs. ‘Zulu’ and ‘Zulu Dawn’
Many visitors will be familiar with the film Zulu starring Michael Caine in his first Oscar award production, and the story is based on the actions of B Company 2nd Battalion 24th Regiment in defending their post at Rorke’s Drift Mission Station. This location is just 800m from the hotel and the museum and layout of the fortifications are visited by several thousand visitors each year. Picture at Rt is Lt Chard RE and Lt Bromhead 2/24 in Zulu (1964) aka Stanley Baker and Michael Cain . Zulu was shot on location in South Africa, but in the Drakensberg which has an even more dramatic backdrop than Shiyane Mountain, although that is an opinion. The site where the film was made is near our associate Montusi Lodge and we can arrange an onward stop should you wish.
The heroic defence of Rorke’s Drift Mission Station was preceded by the massacre at Isandlwana and this is depicted in the film Zulu Dawn starring Burt Lancaster and Peter O’Toole as Lord Chelmsford. This was also filmed on location in South Africa and the footage of invading Zululand by crossing the river, is the hotel grounds. The pontoons cross the Buffalo River in the film at our Eastern boundary and movie buffs can go to the site. The picture below has the hotel site in the background.Invasion of Zululand – Zulu Dawn (1979)
Our View – Matosheni (Hill of the Soldiers)
The stunning view from the deck of the main builiding has many stories to tell and we offer a recital to guests, which is best appreciated after visiting the two battlefields of Isandhlwana and Rorke’s Drift.
The comings and goings across our view on the Bridle Trail and the Wagon Road are stories in their own right and visitors can explore the routes on foot, on horseback or for some of their distance, in a vehicle. Great experiences for all in marvellous countryside!
Upload our edited talk Grandstand View Riding the Bridle Trail with the Hotel in the background, below The Oscarberg (Shiyane)
ALL ROADS LEAD TO RORKE’S DRIFT HOTEL . . . The two tar roads on either side of the location are the R33 and the R68 that run South and East from Dundee respectively. Depending on where you are coming from, view there are several options to minimise the distance and to have a scenic and enjoyable journey.
- From Gauteng and the North-West; two options:- Take the N3 South to Ladysmith and then on the N11/R602 to Dundee OR leave the N3 after the Vaal Engen stop; take the R103 & R34 past Vrede and Memel to Newcastle; then N11 South towards Ladysmith. Take the R68 left to to Dundee – where you:-
C: Take the R33 to Vryheid –straight down Victoria street and past Talana Museum as you leave town; right after 3km signed R68 Isandlwana & Nqutu; 20km you will see the sign to Rorke’s Drift 22km to the right (if you cross the river you have missed it). This gravel road has a well signed T going left to us and then after 10mins approaching Rorke’s Drift ‘village’ and the distinctive Shiyane mountain you will see – A: the left turn to Isandlwana indicated; take this road and after 500m you will see the signed drive to the hotel on your right (if you cross the river you have missed it).
- From Vryheid, as you approach Dundee on the R33, and some 5km short of the town, take the left turn to Nqutu on the R68. After 22 km you will see signed Rorke’s Drift to the right. After 10 mins go left as indicated and after a further 10 mins you will see – as
- From The Central and N Drakensberg head for Ladysmith and through the town (better to pass up Murchison Street; take the first left after crossing the Klip River) and onto the N11 towards Newcastle and then right on the R602 to Glencoe and Dundee. The Dundee route is popular and refer to C. A more scenic route is to take the Helpmekaar Road at the robot as you leave the town and pass the tyre factory etc. Do not deviate from this road (40 mins) and you will arrive at the Helpmekaar ridge where you go left, and after about 1.7km take the right turn to Camp Buffalo and follow the P190 past Elandsheim and Rorke’s Drift to the right turn to Isandlwana and the Hotel. Alternatively go on to Helpmekaar marked Rorke’s Drift per E.
E Alternatively go on 6km to Helpmekaar & take the right turn marked Rorke’s Drift. You will descend Knostrop Pass (rocky; go slow; you need a good ground clearance) to the Buffalo valley and RD is signed Rt and follow – A
- From the King ShakaAirport, Elephant Coast, Hluhulwe etc, head for Melmoth, take the R68 to Babanango and towards Nqutu. [Beware the right turn of this main road 20km N of Melmoth or you will end up on gravel going to Nkandla]. The shortest route is to take the Left signed to Isandlwana and the hill is visible from the tar road. Pass the battlefield (or visit!) and then after 8km take the left turn down the hill (sign to the Hotel) to Rorke’s Drift which will lead you across the Batsche River and to the bridge over the Buffalo River:-
D – cross the concrete bridge and you will see the Hotel on the left and the drive is 300m up the hill on the left. With slightly less gravel road, go through Nqutu (fuel available) following Dundee direction R68 for 5 km. Take the Left signed St Augustine and follow this gravel road ca 15km until you see a taxi station and the sign Zakenhi. Bear left here and go down to the Buffalo River and D.
- From S Drakensberg, Pietermaritzburg and Durban there are two options:-
5.1 via Greytown, Tugela Ferry (Msinga) and Pomeroy (NB this route is currently a bit tortuous due to unfinished roadworks and possible congestion) on the R33 to the Helpmekaar Ridge where you take the right turn to Camp Buffalo and follow the P190 past Elandsheim and Rorke’s Drift to the right turn to Isandlwana and the Hotel. Alternatively go on to Helpmekaar marked Rorke’s Drift per E 5.2 via the N3 past Estcourt to the exit to Colenso & Bergville. Go past Colenso, cross the Tugela River and over the hills to Ladysmith following signs N11 Newcastle & go through Ladysmith per 3. Notes:
- The GPS is an aid to navigation and the default routing may not be correct for RDH so pls use our directions and a map.
- There is a Rorke’s Drift Lodge which is not us, nowhere near the river, and you should look for the HOTEL.
- There is no fuel at Rorke’s Drift so for a peaceful stay please arrive with at least half a tank.
- For gravel roads pls travel at minimum 60kph to avoid rattling your car to pieces (viz: fly the corrugations) and in order to arrive!
SEE YOU HERE!
Map of Northern KwaZulu-Natal. Visit battlefields-route.co.za for detail of the numbered destinations.