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The beginnings of the small town of Vryheid date back to 1884. After the end of the Anglo-Zulu war, a group Voortrekker – led by Lucas Meijer – secured the Zulu King Dinizulu military protection. In return, the Boers got considerable land, so they called here a little later their “Nieuwe Republiek”, with Vryheid as capital and Lucas Meijer as president. The Republic existed until 1888 and then became part of the Zuid-Afrikaanse Republiek.
Vryheid is today a cozy, afrikaans dominated country town with about 70000 inhabitants. It belongs to the AbaQulusi commune. Several historic buildings in the center – such as the “Lucas Meijer House”, the “Old Raadsaal” (council chamber), the “Old Fort” or the “Landdrostkantoor” (magistrate seat) – remind of the past of the place. Most of the houses are on Landdrost Street, where you can also find the Nieuwe Republiek Museum, which houses an excellent collection of props on the history of Vryheid.
Vryheid is located on the eastern edge of the so-called “Battlefields“. This region in northwest KwaZulu-Natal was once the scene of many historic battles. Here the decisive clashes took place, first between Voortrekkers and Zulus, then between Englishmen and Zulus and finally between Boers and Englishmen. Above all history-interested Britons, Americans and South Africans like to visit the old battlefields and monuments. Expert guides tell in detail about the tragic highlights of South African colonial history, and there are always elaborate “re-enactments” in which battles are reenacted.
kambulakAlso in the vicinity of Vryheid are some such historic battlefields, both from the Anglo-Zulu war and the Boer wars.
The warm season lasts 3.1 months from November 25 to February 28, with the average daily high above 26 ° C. The hottest day of the year is January 31, when the average high temperature is 27 ° C and the average low is 16 ° C.
The cool season lasts 2.0 months from 1 June to 3 August, with the average daily high below 21 ° C. The coldest day of the year is 5 July, when the average minimum temperature is 5 ° C and the average high is 20 ° C.
Between the coastal area and the majestic Drakensberg lies an area of tender pastoral beauty: the Natal Midlands. The road winds through wooded hilly country and wide grassy areas: here and there villages and welcoming country restaurants. Plump cattle and breeding horses graze on fertile farmland. Although the days when large herds wintered here are long gone, there are still a number of large and varied wildlife in the reserves.
Winter-capped Drakensberg is the country’s grandest mountain range and an ever-popular holiday destination. He, who is known to the Zulus as the Quathlamba – “the boundary of spears” – forms an impressive backdrop for the Thukela region.