Today was our day to tour some of the museums and battlefields of the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). The first was Talana Hill at Dundee, the site of the first battle of the war on October 20, 1899. From there we drove to Ladysmith, the site of a 118 day siege of the town and the British forces by the Boer. Good museum which covers not just the siege but much of the background and history of the war. The last site was Spioenkop, where the British suffered a huge defeat, losing many soldiers. It appears the Afrikaan population still hold bitter memories of the British policies that led to the war and the British strategy of a "scorched earth" policy whereby they burnt all the farms of the Boers and placed many women and children in concentration camps. Apparently 23,000 Boer women died in the camps.
The day involved travel through several landscapes. The land around last night's country house is quite rocky and supports grazing but little else. The owner of the place we stayed has a farm of 7,500 acres (3000 ha.) and over 1,200 head of cattle. Dundee is also a coal mining centre (underground mining). As we headed further west the soil improved and around Bergville corn is prevalent. As we moved to the northwest we reached the Drakensberg Mountains which includes South Africa's highest peaks (3400 meters). Our lodge, Montosi Mountain Lodge, is very nice and probably not more than ten years old. Each unit is a separate cottage which is actually a one-bedroom suite. Wish we were here for more than one night.
We thought we should comment on our impressions of safety in South Africa. Nowhere have we felt any sense of discomfort. We have driven and walked in some pretty poor areas and did not at any time feel resentment or aggression. Our guide has expressed the view that, other than some spots in a few major cities, there really are no safety issues. We can probably say the same thing about some of our cities where we would not want to wander around at night.