Umtata Tourist Attractions
Umtata was capital of the Transkei homeland, which was given independence in 1976. In 1994 the territory, which is not economically viable on its own, again became part of South Africa.Umtata and the territory of the former homeland are mainly occupied by Xhosa, a people made up of a number of different tribal communities which have preserved their various traditions and dialects.The town lies in a hilly region, surrounded by grassland. The land is mostly used for grazing livestock; arable farming is possible only in a small part of the area.Before contemplating a trip into the former Transkei - which is well worth it for the sake of the glorious coastal scenery - you should inquire locally about possible dangers for tourists. In recent years there have been some acts of violence against whites.The earliest inhabitants of this region were Bushmen and Hottentots, who were driven out by the Xhosa who moved into the area in the 17th C. In the late 18th and the 19th centuries the interests of the Boers, the British and the Xhosa came into conflict, and after the bloody Kaffir Wars, in 1879, the territory was incorporated in the Cape Colony. The Transkei was granted internal self-government in 1963.Umtata, on the Umtata River, was founded in 1879. It has a number of imposing public buildings, including the Bunga (Parliament Building) and the Town Hall (1907). There is also a fine Anglican cathedral. The University, originally founded in 1976 as a branch of Fort Hare University now has 4000 students.Close to the town are two charming nature reserves, the Luchaba Nature Reserve (460 ha/1136 acres), 5km/3mi north, and the Nduli Nature Reserve, 3km/2mi south.There are also a number of interesting craft centers in the town, including the Hilmond weaving-mill (using mohair wool) and the Izandla pottery, to which a craft school is attached. Both of these are on the Queenstown road (R 61).