Things to do for culture vultures at Drakensville
There are two types of holidaymakers: The families who want to reach their destination as soon as possible, because only then their holiday begins. Then there are those families who stop for sightseeing at every small town along the way. Their holiday starts the moment they get into their vehicle. Families from the first group usually spend every day on the beach or at the swimming pool and never leave the resort. Families from the second group explore the whole area and absorb all the information they can get about the interesting places with great enthusiasm.
ATKV Drakensville decided to meet the needs of those holidaymakers, and to offer them even more by organising wonderful tours. We have spoken to Johan Outram to find out more.
What made you realise there is a need for cultural tours? Where did the idea originate?
The Heritage Foundation and Amafa KwaZulu-Natal are involved on different levels with the conservation of monuments and memorabilia. South Africans have a need for greater access to historical events to enable them to take ownership of their complete history. Each monument represents a piece of the history of our precious country, which should be shared. The demand for historical sites in the Drakensberg increased to such an extent that we decided to make it a permanent part of our offering at ATKV Drakensville.
Why do you think cultural tours are important?
Cultural tours largely improve our understanding of the people behind the history. There are so many wrong perceptions and untruths about history and events. A cultural tour allows people from different backgrounds to meet while sharing a common interest. Here people with different opinions and inherited pasts start talking to each other, and begin to understand one another. These conversations open up wide areas of understanding.
What is the general feedback from the visitors?
People are saddened by the state of our monuments and historical sites. One should remember, however, that each South African plays a role in the conservation or destruction of our heritage. The secret lies in the education of our people and the correct portrayal of facts so that we can realise that behind all the emotional findings, there are facts that bind us together as a nation. Young and old experience moments of “I have never thought of it that way” and realise the impact of historical events on the present.
Do the current tours comply with the diversity of the holidaymakers? Are you planning other tours to include other historical sights?
Yes indeed, we visit diverse sites where the different cultures’ involvement is highlighted. We aim to include more tours, and to adjust certain tours to the needs of the clients. An extension of the tours include historical hotels of the Drakensberg, San rock art, Zulu cultural visits, Admiral Johan Weston (who built and flew South-Africa’s first successful aeroplane), as well as the lost valleys and its inhabitants.
Who usually join your tours? Children, older people, parents and their kids?
Mainly family groups, couples, and school groups. The oldest person on one of our tours was 87 years young and the youngest was only six months! Tours are presented in Afrikaans and English to accommodate diverse groups. We can also present the tours in Zulu and Sotho on request.
Is today’s youth still interested in historical battlefields?
They are interested in the history of the people behind the facts. Dates and events are not so important to the youth as the human stories of people like Aia Jana (battle of Bloukrans), Mahatma Ghandi (battle of Spioenkop), Sir Winston Churchill (his capture site), and also the skin (with tattoo) of a British soldier, currently in the Siege Museum. The youth should get the opportunity to learn more about the monuments and the adventures of our predecessors.
Which typical questions do people ask about the historical sites?
Many questions are about the maintenance of the sites. Also, what happened to the people after the events? For example, they want to know where Lenie Retief was buried, or what happened to General Buller after the Anglo-Boer War? People are also interested in how the history of one event influenced the next.
Are these tours only available to people staying at the resort?
No, but it is a lot easier to organise the tours if you are booked in at the resort.
Is there anything else you would like people to know about these tours?
The cultural tours organised by ATKV Drakensville are unique and exclusive. You get the opportunity to visit historical sites that are not accessible to the public.
Who can you contact if you want to do a tour?
The information is on our website at www.drakensville.co.za, but you can also contact the resort at 036 438 6287.