The 5th Classic Safari Challenge 2014

1st - 26th  May, 2014

Classic Safari Reports

Safari Diary from Mbabane - May 7

Day 5:  Golden Gate to Cathedral Peak - The early-morning mist rolled down the valley just as the first engines were firing into life for the start of another great day.

We drove through the Drakensberg mountains on twisty demanding Tarmac roads - no Medal Sections today - to the Cathedral Peak Hotel, which sits on a dead-end road down a long valley surrounded by the awesome peaks of the amphitheatre. The region is so breathtaking it is now rated as a UNESCO Heritage Site. The Cathedral Peak Hotel, and the valley, were chosen as the base-camp and film-set for the making of the epic war film ‘Zulu'. It is here that Stanley Baker and Michael Caine acted out the epic battle of Rorke's Drift, which remains to this day the only battle to see as many as eleven Victoria Crosses awarded for outstanding bravery.

The hotel has a reputation for outstanding food and the dinner did not disappoint. As after-dinner entertainment, Philip Young gave a short talk on how the film came to be made and the story of how 120 soldiers, outnumbered by forty five to one, beat off a determined attack by 4,500 Zulus.

Day 6:  Cathedral Peak to Mbabane - We drove out of the mountains and pounded down a long main road to cross the border into Swaziland. Along the way we took time out to first compete on a dusty gravel road for another Medal Section.

Results were:  1st, the 1800 BMC Landcrab of Bill Cleyndert; 2nd, the Ford Falcon of Dennis Varni; 3rd, Peter Lovett in the Porsche 911. The gold medal went to car 18, the Ford Mustang of Michael and Eunice McInerney. The best Vintageant was once again Bruce and Judy Washington in their rapid Dodge Coupe.

We then took time out to visit the small museum in the shabby run-down wooden building of Rorke's Drift, and crossed the Buffalo River at the same spot where the invading British Army who broke a treaty marched into Zululand in 1879.  We followed a similar route of the soldiers to Isandlwana. Here 1,500 soldiers equipped with cannons, rockets and the latest Martini-Henry rifles were massacred in little more than two hours by 25,000 Zulus, the only time an entire Regiment has been wiped out by an enemy.

The Rally stopped en masse at the Isandlwana Lodge for an excellent spot of lunch, taking time out to see the site of the fighting, now eerily marked with cairns of white stones in the long grass. These mark the burial of groups of British soldiers - but the Zulus who were defending their families and homeland from the ravages of ethnic cleansing have no memorials.

By the evening we had crossed our first border, into Swaziland and drove on to our night halt at the Royal Swazi Sun hotel where our evening dinner is an outdoor braai (a traditional Southern African barbecue).

Syd Stelvio


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