Mthatha (Umtata) Accommodation
Mthatha, or Umtata as it was previously known, is a small city of less than 100 000 citizens in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. The town, founded in the early 1880's was named after the Mthatha River, alongside which it was built. The river's name, in turn, was inspired by the Umtati (sneezewood) trees which lined its banks. Mthatha is located close to Coffee Bay and Hole in the Wall, two notable stops on any traverse of the popular Wild Coast. Mthatha is mainly utilised by people en route to the coast and those doing business in the city.
Preceding its construction, the city was used as a military base for the British Colonial forces. During Apartheid it became the administrative capital of the old Bantustan, Transkei, and was known by its old name, Umtata. The city had a name change in 2004 to the more traditional Mthatha but is still inextricably linked to South Africa's history and serves as an important hub for those living in the rural villages around the city.
The most notable thing about the city is its relationship to Nelson Mandela, South Africa's favourite freedom fighter. He was born in the village of Mvezu and grew up in the village of Qunu, both falling into the same municipality as Mthatha. Today, the city and the 2 villages make up the three campuses of the Nelson Mandela Museum, which documents the activist's life.
The museum is located in the Bunga, the old parliament building for traditional leaders in the area and makes for a fascinating visit.
If you plan on staying in Mthatha, you will give yourself the unique experience of staying in a South African city which has a truly African feel about it; slightly run down and full of culture - women dressed in traditional shweshwe fabric and butcheries selling live animals, for example.
Ensure that you soak up the experience before navigating the potholed roads to the Wild Coast.
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From R1130* unit
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