Spectacular views onto Isandlwana mountain
The imposing structure of the Isandlwana Lodge, built up against the rock from where the Zulu commander observed and directed the battle, provides luxury accommodation to visitors as well as spectacular views onto Isandlwana mountain, the battlefield at its foot and the peaceful tribal village nestling in the valley below.
The lodge was built in the late 1990s by Pat Stubbs and Maggie Bryant, two intrepid American women who were in their sixties and seventies when they took the brave move to invest in a lodge on the far side of the world. Pat, who had worked in marketing in the South of the US, had flown out to Africa to look for investment opportunities and was in Botswana when someone told her of the opportunity to build a lodge at Isandlwana, on tribal land and in partnership with the tribal authority. She came to investigate and and on the plane back after her second trip she sat next to a stranger – Maggie Bryant, a Trustee of the Wild Foundation. Pat told Maggie hesitantly about the opportunity and on the spur of the moment Maggie decided to come in as Pat’s partner.
They had no idea what it would be like to build a lodge in Africa, let alone on a remote mountain miles away from any city with infrastructure, expertise, building materials and skilled labour. Pat herself oversaw the construction, living in a house in the village.
It was a huge task, but the product is a spectacular structure that complements the wavy lines of its mountain backdrop and that provides unequalled high views on Isandlwana Mountain, the village below and a huge, stark landscape of vast valleys and mountains on the horizon. The sturdy wooden pillars that hold up the high ceilings of the reception areas are former columns that once supported one of the piers on Durban’s beach front; each one bearing the name of a Zulu commander in the battle of Isandlwana.
From the bedroom balconies, guests are charmed by bird song in the trees below the lodge. And early risers can watch the village below waking up – fingers of smoke rising up out of home fires; cows lowing and children shouting across to friends on their way to school.
The lodge has its own resident historian, Rob Gerard, who takes guests out on tours of Isandlwana, Rorkes Drift and the other Battlefields.
Isandlwana Lodge is part-owned by the local tribal authority and has a visitors’ donations programme which is used for programmes in Isandlwana Village. The programme is coordinated by Mcebisi Mthembu of the WOWZULU Marketplace.