The towns and villages of this historically-rich region of the Drakensberg exist peacefully now despite the ghosts of the past, a legacy of the pioneering spirit of the early settlers and the turbulent times they endured. People of many different cultures and beliefs have laid down roots here; and this diverse, multi-cultural history has left these friendly and vibrant towns with as interesting a gallery of buildings and monuments as you could hope to find.
Some of these towns are historically famous for the major wars that swept across the region between 1879 and 1902. But their history starts in times prior to these famous wars. For a period of nearly 100 years, much of this land was in a state of turmoil. And out of all this some interesting little towns took shape in the foothills, grasslands and thornveld of this beautiful land.
In the shadow of the Drakensberg, the trading and agricultural village of BERGVILLE features an Anglo-Boer War block house in its Court House. Nearby WINTERTON includes the attraction of a museum, with its main theme the geology, fauna and flora of the Drakensberg.
Both towns are perfectly positioned for visitors travelling to resorts and reserves in the northern sector of the Drakensberg.
Originally known as Commando Drift, historic COLENSO is close to the Armoured Train Cemetery, where the young war correspondent Winston Churchill was captured by the Boers. Interest points include the single carriage Bulwer Bridge and R.E. Stevenson Museum.
The advent of coal mining in the region led to the establishment of several towns. DANNHAUSER has a bird sanctuary, while the nearby HATTINGSPRUIT; on the banks of the recreational Town Worthington Dam, features the traditional Farmers Brewery.
GLENCOE has a proud railway history and several significant historical buildings in and nearby the town, including the Ghandi memorial, Carl Landmans House and Fort Mistake.
A frontier coal mining town proclaimed in 1882, today DUNDEE is a central point from which to explore the battlefields. A guided walk of the town takes in many historical and architectural gems. Nearby is the not-to-be-missed Talana Museum (set in park like surroundings) and the restored Maria Ratschitz Mission.
Besieged by Boer forces for 118 days during the Anglo-Boer War, LADYSMITH made headlines around the world. Major attractions include the Siege Museum, Emnambithi Cultural Centre, Town Hall Museum, surrounding battlefields (no less than 10 major battlesites, including Spionkop, Wagon Hill, Elandslaagte and Tugela Heights), the Architectural Route, twin howitzers Castor and Pollux, the Soofi Mosque, the Statue of Ghandi and Moth Museum.
Centre of the Amajuba Birding Meander, and a key town on the Battlefields Route, NEWCASTLE has the amenities of a city and all the charm of a country town. Attractions include General Bullers's headquarters, the Carnegie Gallery (build on the site of the town gallows), Fort Amiel, the Town Hall (a national monument), the Hindu temple, Hilldrop House (once the home of author Rider Haggard) and O'Neill's Cottage.
On the banks of the Bushmans River, ESTCOURT is a stepping off point for outdoor and adventure activities in the region. Places of interest include historic civic buildings. The Factory Shop Route and Fort Durnford, which overlooks the town and houses a museum.
WEENEN (the place of weeping) was named in memory of the massacre of Voortrekkers by Zulus. This is the home of Adventure Valley, and attractions include immediate access to the Tugela Biospere.
Once the centre of military operations during the Bambatha Rebellion, GREYTOWN is a captivating mix of colonial buildings and Zulu tradition, alongside Hindu and Moslem places of worship. The towns museum is crammed with military memorabilia and eclectic exhibits.
The village of NQUTHU offers a rare look at a traditional way of life in an area known by the Zulus as Amasotsheni - a reference to the British soldiers who fought at the Battle of Isandlwana and at Rorkes Drift. Also rich in Zulu culture, IJMSINGA, was a focal point during the 1906 Bambatha Rebellion.
A town with a wealth of interesting architecture, UTRECHT (which is now a Ątown within a game reserve") offers a glimpse into the colourful past.
Historical attractions include Dutch Reformed and Anglican churches, the Landdrost, Pos and Telegraaf Kantoor, the Town Hall (a national monument) and several war memorials to Voortrekker, Boer and British fallen.
Forever linked with the Battle of Blood River, it was in the small Village of WASBANK that the Voortrekkers made a vow in December 1838, that if God would grant them victory over the Zulus, they would build a church in thanksgiving.