Umtata, founded in 1879, was declared the capital of the Transkei, the homeland of the Xhosa during the Apartheid era. The former Transkei is now part of the Eastern Cape province.
Umtata is the colourful and lively centre of the region. The city stands on the banks of the Mtata River - the name derives from the word thatha (taker), owing to the damage and fatalities caused by the flooding river.
At a village near the town, Mvezo, President Nelson Mandela was born into the Madiba clan of the Thembu royal family.
The greatest attraction of Umtata is the Nelson Mandela Museum in the Bhunga Building in Owen Street. The modern museum displays a substantial variety of historic documents and photos of Madiba's "Long Way to Freedom".
A trail named after President Nelson Mandelas clan of the Thembu royal family. The trail leads hikers to, among others, Qunu where he grew up and the University of Fort Hare.
A domed building that has served as the seat of the Transkei Parliament for more than half a century. It now houses the Nelson Mandela National Museum.
Nelson Mandela National Museum:
Contains priceless sentimental gifts given to him while he was president.
The dam that quenches the towns thirst also provides facilities for outdoor activities, such as picnicking and water sport. Facilities for ski boating are available.
A sandstone building completed in 1908, fronted by pleasant gardens.
Accommodation is available in the unmatched splendor of the evergreen forests and unspoilt countryside surrounding the town. Ideal for those who revel in outdoor activities in splendid isolation, including hikes and trails. Fishing and bird watching are also available. Reserves include Dwesa, Hululeka and Silika.