KwaZulu Natal DestinationsUlundi, Zululand
The town of Ulundi, in the heart of Zululand, is set among majestic hills and the rugged valleys of the White Umfolozi River. The former capital of the Zulu Kingdom, Ulundi straddles Route 66, between Nongoma and Melmoth.
Historically, it is significant as the final scene of the Anglo-Boer War when the Battle of Ulundi, in 1879, witnessed the Zulu army’s final defeat just north west of the town. Today, the Ulundi Battle Monument pays tribute to the event. King Cetshwayo’s royal residence has been partially reconstructed at Ondini, just outside Ulundi and includes a small site museum that is worth a visit. Ulundi is the Zulu word for ‘the heights’ and was originally named by King Cetshwayo.
The mystical Valley of the Kings - eMakhosini - is on the R34 just before Melmoth and was the home of several Zulu clans. The valley is part of the eMakhosini Ophate Heritage Park, a protected area with some magnificent scenery, in which the Spirit of eMakhosini memorial has recently been erected in honour of the Zulu Kings whose graves lie here. Not only was it the birth place of Shaka but the graves and royal capitals of seven Zulu Kings lie in this valley. The 26 000 ha eMakhosini Ophate Heritage Park has now introduced game into the area and is dedicated to the survival of the threatened Oribi species of grassland antelope.
Just near Ulundi, on the outskirts of the Heritage Park, are caves, virtually hidden on the side of the Ntaba Ntuzuma Mountains. Left largely in peace for years, they have recently drawn much attention. There are signs that these caves were inhabited by the Ngobese clan more than 200 years ago. The caves were almost impregnable to enemies, which is why they were probably chosen as dwellings and the plan in 2005 was to include these with other local tourist attractions.
Some of the artefacts already found include grinding stones, wooden spoons and other items, which convinced researchers that their ancestors were brewers of beer. These items have been given to the Dundee museum for display.