A journey along Route 66 is filled with unexpected discoveries. Stop at a tavern for refreshment and get knocked out by boxing legend Tap Tap Makhatini, walk in the forest and find fascinating creatures - great and small - and take time to hear the extraordinary history of the region: the Zulu kings who lived here, the Norwegian missionaries who brought Christianity to Zululand and how the British tried to change the old order of Zululand.
Zululand Heritage Route 66 – follows the road between Gingindlovu and Pongola via Eshowe, Melmoth, Ulundi and Nongoma.
This is one of the oldest trade routes through Zululand. Settlers resident at Port Natal (Durban) in the early 19th Century would set off in ox wagons on well-worn tracks and cross into Zululand at a drift very close to the present N2 bridge over the Thukela River. The tracks followed the coast for a while before turning inland towards the heart of the Zulu Kingdom as settlers required the permission of the Zulu King before they could hunt and trade in his territory.
Following in these same paths soon after them, in ever-increasing numbers, were the missionaries and their families, transport riders, then soldiers, colonial administrators, police, settlers and farmers. The route has been witness to immense changes and terrible conflict - clan against clan and kingdom against kingdom. This is where Victorian Britain's imperial ambitions and military might were shaken by the gallantry of 'a remarkable people' armed only with shields and spears.
The wagon tracks have long since made way for a modern infrastructure but today's visitors in their air-conditioned SUV's, navigated by GPS, can still get a sense of how thing used to be on Route 66. Many of its valleys once teeming with wild game, have been divided up into fertile farms but Zululand remains a place deeply rooted in its ancient traditions and Zulu Culture.
The R66, begins at Dokodweni Toll Plaza close to the pristine Siyaya Coastal Park in Mtunzini, and ends less than 250kms further north at the busy town of Pongola but in that short distance, visitors have traveled through the picturesque towns of Eshowe, Melmoth and Ulundi, a world from another time. The Zululand Heritage Route passes through territory that has given rise to events which have captured the world's imagination. The rise of Shaka and the battles of the Anglo-Zulu War have inspired novels, television epics and movies and today the scale and uniqueness of the annual Royal Reed Dance held each year in Nongoma draws considerable international attention.
Find out more about tourism in Zululand, Zulu Cultre, the towns of Eshowe, Melmoth, Ulundi, Nongoma and Pongola. Discover a range of accommodation in Eshowe, Melmoth, uLundi and Pongola.