Brainchild of late historian David Rattray, located in KwaZulu, in the Natal battlegrounds along Buffalo river, Fugitives Drift is a one of a kind, a lodge set up to commemorate, explore and understand the 1879 battles of Islandlewana and Rorke’s Drift.
Known for its battlefield tours, where the story of one of Britain’s most significant loss, together with that of the slightly later successful defence of Rorke’s Drift, is brought alive by the storytelling prowess of a number of the lodge’s key historians, Fugitives Drift consists of the main lodge, its recently renovated annex, a guest house, Umzinyathi farmhouse and, in its grounds, Kwageorge, a twin bedroom suite.
Set on a private reserve, in mature gardens, the lodge and annex, where the majority of guests stay, includes a lounge and dining room, a pool, library and verandah. Comfortable, characterised by a cosy homestead feel, the atmosphere is welcoming, homely, with drinks, nibbles and gatherings around Fugitives Drift Lodge’s fire pit. Packed with war and associated paraphernalia, the dining and seating area plays host to farmhouse fare. Unlike the majority of lodges, where the library is normally relatively small, and constitutes little more than a snug room, the new Harford Library at Fugitives Drift accommodates 34, includes internet and audio-visual facilities, and occupies an intellectually central position in the lodge’s daily activities.
While the various pieces of accommodation differ in terms of number of bedrooms, each suite or house is beautifully kept. The lodge suites include a private verandah, twin bed, seating area and en-suite bathroom, while the guest house has 2 bedrooms with separate bathrooms, private verandahs, a lounge and its own catering facilities. The farmhouse has 3 bedrooms, a kitchen, lounge and just one bedroom, and would suit a family or group – a large one if the one garden suite is included.
Activities revolve around the battlefield tours, but also include horseback tours of lesser well-known aspects of the conflict, together with walks, fishing and cultural visits.