David Rattray is synonymous with Fugitives Drift. His love and hard work put this obscure corner of Zululand on the world map. Initially, by him pioneering the new tourism sector of historical tours in South Africa and then by attracting the great and good of this world including several members of the British Royal Family to this area who consequently were important in financing the influential David Rattray Foundation.
I had not visited the lodge in several years. What struck me this time round was not the excellence of the historical lectures on the Anglo Zulu wars in situ on the battlefields of Rorke’s Drift and Isandlwana, not the excellence of the hospitality, the hosts, the comfortable cottages nor the dining but the sheer beauty of the place.
With almost 2500 hectares over hill and dale overlooking the Buffalo River stocked with almost 2000 head of game, the private reserve of Fugitives Drift is stupendously beautiful. In many ways, I could almost ignore my strong interest in the history of the area and just indulge my senses. They keep a stable of horses and I was happy to do an outride to the distant cliff overlooking the river. I passed blue wildebeest, impala, a herd of giraffe and zebra with no skittishness on their part, mainly due to the fact that they had become habituated and there are no alpha predators stalking their existence. The flora of acacia trees, giant and bitter aloes and savannah was pure and untouched. With vantage points givings vistas of distant mountains and valleys, this natural paradise is inviting you to explore.
People will always come to Fugitives Drift to hear and feel the history but for a younger generation, the natural attractions will be perhaps a stronger pull. The reserve has several mountain bike trails crossing it and the area is host to two annual mountain bike races. With picnics on the river and natural bush walks this is an area where city dwellers can detox from the stresses of modern life. Zululand demands a slower pace of life and in coming to Fugitives, you too will be able to enjoy that pace, at least for a few days.
Fugitives Drift Lodge: http://www.uyaphi.com/south-africa/lodges/fugitives-drift-lodge.htm
Fugitives Drift Guesthouse: http://www.uyaphi.com/south-africa/lodges/fugitives-drift-guesthouse.htm