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     Holts Tours, the UK's leading battlefield tour operators, have just announced their itinerary for the 2014 tour of the Anglo-Zulu War battlefields. Now obviously I'm biased - I lead it, so please don't expect an impartial opinion from me! - but I think it is by far the best organised tour of the historic sites of the old Zulu kingdom out there. It's been honed over many years of separate involvement in travel to the sites from both Holts and myself and it now takes in not only all of the battle sites of the 1879 war, but many other important places along the way. We start at the coast, with a brief introduction to the arrival of the first representativs of the British Empire on Zulu shores, then work our way up, past King Shaka's grave and the remains of the Ultimatum Tree, to the battlefields of kwaGingindlovu and Nyezane, and to Eshowe, where we look at both the remains of the KwaMondi mission - fortified for three months in 1879 by Col. Pearson - and the later Fort Nongqayi, now a nice little museum. We spend two nights at Shakaland for an introduction to Zulu culture, and this is our base to perhaps the most evocative day of the tour, our trip out to the Nkandla forest and the grave of King Cetshwayo. From Eshowe we go north, via Ulundi and Cetshwayo's partially reconstructed homestead at oNdini, to Ithala Game Reserve. Nestling at the foot of a spectacular range of hills, Ithala is our base for our exploration of the northern battlefields, Ntombe, Hlobane and Khambula. If you are fit enough and don't mind a challenge we offer you the opportunity to walk across the top of Hlobane mountain in the footsteps of Buller and his mounted men. Then, from Ithala we go by way of the 1838 Ncome/Blood River battlefield and the Prince Imperial's monument to the climax of the tour, several days spent exploring the iSandlwana and Rorke's Drift campaign. We stay at the wonderful Isandlwana Lodge, which overlooks the battlefield (wake early enough and you can enjoy your morning tea on the veranda of your room, watching the dawn mist lifting from the mountain), and in addition to a detailed examination of both battles we explore the outlying areas, including the valley where the Zulu army bivouacked before iSandlwana, and the Mangeni hills, where Lord Chelmsford was on the day of the battle. We are privileged to be accompanied by Paul Marais, the South African end of the operation, who is not only a registered tour guide but also an experinced African traveller in his own right.

    Here are some photos from this year's tour - and you can find the full details for next year below. Come along - I look forward to sharing this great adventure with you.