We were up early the next morning to check-out and enjoy the grand breakfast buffet in the Rainbow Terrace Restaurant. Our Thompsons tour guide for the day was Michelle. She took the six of us on a full-day excursion to Shakaland which is about a 2-hour drive from Durban. We rode through the rural lands of the Zulus in the KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa. We saw mountains, sugarcane fields, grapefruit groves, roadside vendor stands, and villages. Michelle told us a little about the Zulus along the way but decided to leave most of the details to the Zulus we'd meet at Shakaland.
Shakaland is a recreation of a traditional Zulu village as it would have appeared in the 19th century. It was built for the filming of the 1984 television series Shaka Zulu. Today it serves as a living museum to introduce Zulu culture and history to tourists.
Welcome to Shakaland
Our tour began in a hut where we were shown a short film on the life of the legendary Zulu warrior king, King Shaka. The film talks about Shaka's troubled childhood and how he eventually became king. Shaka was responsible for transforming a small Zulu clan of warriors to a formidable fighting force. He introduced new weapons and tactics that were used by his successors to overwhelmingly defeat the British military who were in South Africa with the hopes of colonization. The British later had to send in more forces and artillery to defeat the Zulus at the Battle of Isanlwana in 1879.
After the film, a Zulu tour guide took us around the recreated village where we saw demonstrations of weaving, beer making, beadwork, and the use of support rings for carrying items on the head. We also received lessons on Zulu culture. The men in the society are allowed to have many wives. This is still true today. Traditionally, the man gives eleven cattle to the woman's family. Nowadays, the man is more likely to use money and other compensation instead of cattle.
We visited the hut of an inyanga (medicine man) where we were lectured on the various herbs, roots, bark, animal fat, etc. used to cure ailments. We were given the opportunity to taste some traditional homemade Zulu beer. Not knowing how many people had been sipping from this community bowl of beer, my 'germaphobic' conscience told me to pass on this experience. Continue...
support ring demonstration
Stephanie gives it a try
weaving sleeping mats
making Zulu beer
"Now all I need is one of those cool Zulu uniforms."
Traci couldn't resist a little shopping.