eMakhosini Opathe Heritage Park was established in the Valley of the Kings near the old capital of Zululand, Ulundi. It was first conceived as a game reserve with its prime objective being to protect the endangered black rhino. However, it was later recognized that the area has significant heritage value – there are a number of burial sites of famous Zulu kings in the valley.
The idea to develop the land into a heritage site had been under discussion for some time and in 2001 the KZN Wildlife executive and the AMAFA Council, which was established in 1997 as a statutory body responsible for the protection and conservation of KwaZulu-Natal’s cultural and historic heritage, reached an agreement in terms of which the trust lands of the eMakhosini Valley and the Opathe Game Reserve were combined to form one protected area thus ensuring the conservation of nature and heritage in this unique 24000 ha park.
The valley was the birth place of King Shaka and Dingane and this is where Dingane fought his final battle with the Afrikaans Voortrekkers. Today the Zulu King Zweletini has his home in the valley. He established the Amakhosini Monument in 2003 to commemorate the spirits of his illustrious ancestors. It is set high on a hill overlooking the beautiful valley and is decorated with bronze plaques depicting scenes from Zulu history.
The game reserve has been re-stocked, largely by the World Wildlife Fund and is now home to black rhino, wildebeest, giraffe and buffalo.
The gates open from 5h00 to 19h00 in summer and 6h00 to 18h00 in winter. No supplies are available in the park.
Off the main tar road linking Melmoth and Vryheid, take the R66 to Ulundi. The main entrance to the Ophathe section of the park is on the right hand side of the road approximately 1 km before crossing the White Umfolozi River to Ulundi. Continuing on to Ulundi, take the turn-off to the airport, continue past the airport for approximately 6 km to reach Ondini Museum. Mgungundlovu and the Spirit of the Emakhosini Memorial have directional signage off the main road linking Melmoth and Vryheid.