The history of South Africa is extraordinary and at Africa Wild Trails Ltd we feel it is important to get at the very least a taste of this history if not to come away with some in depth knowledge of this fascinating country.

Below you find some brief information on the history you may learn during your programme in South Africa, and links for further information should you require it.

The 2nd Anglo-Boer War

When gold was discovered in northern regions of South Africa the British sought to reassert their dominance over the Afrikaners. The Afrikaners resented the English presence and launched a series of small scale offensives. This was met with scant regard by the English. The Boers mobilized the combined forces of the Republic of the Orange Free State and the self-styled South African Republic to defend what they believed to be their territorial advantage over the British. War was officially declared on the 11th of October 1899.The Boers initially established an early advantage over the British but as London began to view the situation as more than a minor colonial dispute, more forces were sent spelling an end to the Boer victories.Mid 1900, the British began to gain the upper hand and at the beginning of June 1900 the English invaded the capital of the South African Republic, Pretoria.At this time the English relaxed, believing that the back of the Boer offensive had been broken. The Boers regrouped and fought a guerrilla style war from then on. The British response was the ‘Scorched Earth’ policy of burning down Afrikaner settlements and initiating the Concentration Camp system that would be later used with such venom by the Nazi’s in Germany. Faced with such tactics the Boers were forced to concede defeat and begin negotiations.

  1. – The 1st Boer War or Transvaal War, 1880-1881
  2. – More information on the 2nd Boer War
  3. – More Boer War images

The Apartheid Era

Apartheid is the Afrikaans word meaning ‘separation’. Apartheid was the racial and social policy introduced by the National Party government of South Africa in 1948.
The implementation of the policy, later referred to as “separate development,” was made possible by the Population Registration Act of 1950, which put all South Africans into three racial categories: Bantu (black African), white, or Coloured (of mixed race). A fourth category, Asian (Indians and Pakistanis), was added later.The system of apartheid was enforced by a series of laws passed in the 1950s: the Group Areas Act of 1950 assigned races to different residential and business sections in urban areas, and the Land Acts of 1954 and 1955 restricted nonwhite residence to specific areas. These laws further restricted the already limited right of black Africans to own land. The white minority’s then control of over 80 percent of South African land.In addition, other laws prohibited most social contacts between the races, enforced the segregation of public facilities and the separation of educational standards; created race-specific job categories, restricted the powers of non white unions and prevented non white participation in government.

  1. – More information on the Apartheid era
  2. – More Apartheid images

The Anglo-Zulu War

The Anglo-Zulu War of 1879 consisted of many battles and was fought between the Zulu and the army of the British Empire. As a result of the Zulu King, Cetshwayo, not responding to a British ultimatum to disband his armies, a state of war existed between Britain and the Zulu Nation on 11th January 1879.Many famous battles then took place: Isandlawana, Rorke’s Drift, Hlobane, Eshowe, Ulundi, Kambula and otThis war is one of the most extraordinary periods of Victorian History. Although many people are aware of the battle of Rorke’s Drift (made famous by the film "Zulu" starring Stanley Baker and Michael Caine) they are not as aware of the Battle of Isandlwana, fought earlier on the same day, 22nd January 1879, or that the war brought an end to the Napoleonic dynasty with the death of the Prince Imperial, and brought down the British Government.

Both side lost many soldiers who fought and died bravely. On 4th July 1879 the final Battle of Ulundi took place and the British claimed their victory over the Zulu’s.

To visit these battle sites and hear the tales of what happened there is truly a powerful experience. If you would like to include a tour of the battles site in your programme please discuss this with our team.

  1. – More information on the Anglo-Zulu War
  2. – More Anglo-Zulu War images



The Great Trek

The Great Trek began in 1835 when 12,000 Boers (farmers) left the Cape Colony over a period of three years.

The trekked (moved) into the much unexplored areas of the interior of South Africa on foot, horse back and by ox wagon. Their aim was to escape British taxation and domination. They would at last be free from British control but would need to fight many battles with the Zulu’s.

After facing many obstacles and hardships, these farmers started to build a unique identity and began to call themselves ‘Afrikaners’. They also developed new language which was a hybrid called Afrikaans.

The Great Trek in South Africa started with Louis Trichardt and Hans van Rensburg leading the first groups to leave the Colony. There were 53 people in Trichardt’s group and they crossed the Orange River in 1835 on their way to the Soutpansberg. Hans van Rensburg also left the colony at the same time with his group of followers but his aim was to move to Mozambique. The Van Rensburg party was subsequently massacred near the Limpopo River.

The Voortrekkers had opposing views about the direction the trek should take. Potgieter felt it best to remain in Transvaal, since Britain might annex Natal, which would mean that the Voortrekkers would once again be under British rule. Maritz, Cilliers and Retief did not share his fears and decided to move to Natal. Piet Uys was not quite sure where his trek should be heading.

  1. – More information on the Great Trek
  2. – More Great Trek images