And when we sit around the fire and reflect on the fact that at the end of the day ‘Africa will always wins again’ we’ll smile at the perhaps unplanned genius of the choice of a vehicle ten years ago that allows us to see the promise inherent in all these potholes. Cue Dust in the Wind >
Via local story tellers we’ll be introduced to the specific backstory of each and every Basutho blanket before tucking into bedrolls and campaign stretchers unchanged in design since the ones that over a thousand officers and men would sleep their last night in before that dreadful ‘day of the dead moon’ on the blood soaked slopes of Isandlwana.
We’ll descend down a breathtaking pass into a place once known as Natalia via same path that the Bushmen cattle raiders used on their forays into the cattle kraals farm barns and the homes of terrified settler families on restless nights. We’ll sit in the same officers campaign chairs (Roorkhee’s) on the same mountain sides where British commanding officers witnessed the winning genius of a rag tag force of farmers, brave and unconventional fighters, who refused to be drawn into the trap of old style military thinking.
All the way we’ll relive the epic battles between the vanquished and the victorious (British, Boer and Zulu) in the accompaniment of a… master story teller and his guests.
As part of it all we’ll walk the trail where the remains of a vanquished invading force still lie. We’ll stand on the battlefield and at the river crossing and at the place of the final falling of two British officers Melvill and Coghill as they were finally overcome in their attempt to save the queens color. And there the secret of link to between the color of the lining of our bags and that of a Victoria Cross ribbon will be revealed.
And all the way on this ten day journey of military and colonial history and it’s link to the ingenuity of campaign furniture and other safari product design, where few people have the knowledge of the where and the why, we’ll have the joy of the unique and irreplaceable link that we all share:
CAPE TOWN LEG
Thursday 21 September (250km)
― Meet at the Melvill & Moon V&A Watershed, Cape Town
― Depart from CT, and drive in convoy to Barrydale
― Accommodation: Rick Melvill’s Karoo Art Hotel & Camping
Friday 22 September (550km)
― Depart Barrydale and drive via the Swartbrg pass and Beaufort West to the histori-cal Melton Wold guest farm in the heart of the Karoo.
― In 1889 Alfred Ebden bought the farm from the Van Wyk family. He imported some of the best Merino sheep known to the Cape Colony from Australia. These sheep originated from the famous Melton stud, and as his family had come from the Cotswolds, he combine the words and renamed the property ‘Melton Wold’
― Camping at Melton Wold
Saturday 23 September (520km)
― Exploring the Great Karoo.
― Depart after breakfast, and drive via Richmond, Schoombee, Steynsburg to Lady Gray which lies in the foothills of the Maluti mountains.
― Camping next to the clear waters of the Karnmelkspruit at Karnmelkspruit River Re-sort – bring your fly fishing rods…
Sunday 24 September (400 km)
― Depart after breakfast and drive around Lesotho via Zastron, Wepener, Ladybrand and Ficksburg to Moolmanshoek.
―Arrive in your own time at Moolmanshoek which is situated in the heart of the Eastern Free State.
― Welcome dinner (included)
― Camping at Moolmanshoek (Good ablutions)
Monday 25 September
― (300 km / 9 – 10 hours including 2 border crossings)
― Depart at 07h00 sharp.
― Long day ahead of us as we cross the border at Caledonspoort into Lesotho, and follow the tar road via Moteng Pass (2840m), the Pass of Gunns (3240m), and Tlaeeng Pass (3275m), before driving past Thaba Ntlenyana (at 3482 the highest point in Southern Africa), before arriving at Sani Top.
― Exit Lesotho, and use the famous Sani Pass to the South African border control, be-fore arriving at Khotso Lodge.
― Camping at Khotso Lodge (Good ablutions)
Tuesday 26 September (200 km / 5 hours)
― Lovely winding gravel roads from Himeville via Loteni to Nottingham Road (Lunch stop at Notties Hotel)
― Nottingham Road to Weenen about a two hour drive
― Weenen GR is a beautiful setting, and we will arrive early enough if people would like to go on a quick game drive
Wednesday 27 September (175 km / 5-6 hours)
― Leaving this magnificent reserve behind, we use back roads as we make our way towards the wonderful Talana Museum in Dundee, from where the historian and battlefields guide Pat Rundgren will join us from here on-wards.
― The Battle of Talana was the first major battle of the Second Boer War. The British Infantry supported by artillery drove the Boers from a hilltop but suffered heavy casualties. A humbling experience for the complacent British forces in South Africa.
― A statement by the commander Lieutenant – General Sir William Penn Symons possibly sums it up, “Damned impudence of the Boers to start shooting before breakfast”. Take a pompous general who objects to fighting before breakfast, 20 cavalrymen who disappear into the mist, Irishmen shooting at one another on opposite sides and British infantrymen shelled by their own artillery, and you have the tragic ingredients for the Battle of Talana.
― After this mindblowing experience, we make our way to the historical Battle of Blood River.
― Dinner at Bloodriver (included)
― Camping at the Blood River battle site! (Good ablutions)
Thursday 28 September (75 km / 8 hours)
― Relive the battles of Bloodriver, Isandlwana and Rourkes Drift with our local guide.
― Stop for lunch at Rorkes Drift Hotel (own cost)
― After lunch we will camp below the lodge on the banks of the Buffalo river (The lodge will open rooms so that we can use their ablution facilities)
Friday 29 September (40 km / 8 hours)
― The highlight of this tour!
― We visit the famous Fugitives Drift and stand on the battlefield and at the river crossing and at the place of the final falling of two British officers Melvill and Coghill as they were finally overcome in their attempt to save the queens color.
― Enjoy a light lunch afterwards at Fugitives Drift, before we make our way to Nxala Ranch and Nature Reserve
― Farewell dinner (included)
― Camping at Nxala (Good ablutions)
Saturday 30 September
― Depart in your own time
*Please note this itinerary is subject to change
– Welcome dinner at Moolmanshoek
– Dinner at Blood River
– Farewell dinner at Nxala Ranch
– Camping costs
– Entrance fees
– Guide fees
– Drinks and refreshments
– All other meals not included in above
– Camping equipment
– Two-way radios (rental units will be available)
– Items of personal nature