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Mbodla Eco-Heritage Route

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The Mbodla Eco-heritage Route adds an original, Afro-centric, environmental, cultural and heritage dimension to the Fish River (Nxuba) Valley. The route is located in a thriving game-farming area of the Eastern Cape. Prestigious world-class game reserves like the Shamwari and Kwandwe Private Game Reserves are found alongside the famous Big 7 Reserve that is the Greater Addo National Park. 

The main feature of the Eastern Cape is its magnificent coastline. With its wide open sandy beaches, secluded lagoons and towering cliffs, the Indian Ocean coastline provides the province with rich natural tourist attractions and is also a paradise for watersports enthusiasts. Added to the diverse coastal experiences are more than 60 state-owned game reserves and more than thirty private game farms, which collectively cover an area greater than the Kruger National Park.

The Fish River Valley is located within a two hours’ drive from the Eastern Cape’s centres such as Port Elizabeth and East London. It is strategically located on the National Route of the N2, which runs from Port Elizabeth to Durban, carrying a lot of tourism traffic, and forms one end of the Garden Route. The N2 highway also passes through the southern end of the Mhala Valley, giving extremely easy access to visitors from all the major urban centres in the Eastern Cape. The area has rich historical sites that showcase the interaction between the Xhosa people and Europeans through 100 years of frontier wars.

Reasons to visit

The main reason to visit this route is to gain a better understanding and appreciation of Xhosa culture and rural life in remote part of the Eastern Cape. The Mhala traditional community are the main habitants and are an important embodiment of this route. The community, under the leadership of Chief Makinana, is named after the eldest surviving son of Chief Ndlambe, a prominent and pivotal Xhosa leader who was expelled – along with 20, 000 followers – from the area between Port Elizabeth and the Fish River in 1812. 

This community still resides along the banks of the Fish River, in an area that represents the history of their determination to militarily resist colonial encroachment through four more frontier wars from 1819 to 1853. The assets of this route therefore lie in the rich cultural history of the valley and also in its beautiful natural attributes, including important indigenous thicket forests. The route offers visitors an opportunity to interact with local communities in a spectacular natural setting.

Natural history

The subtropical thicket is a biome rich in biodiversity and vital to the livelihoods of thousands of people. Its degradation leads to the depletion of natural and cultural resources and the provisioning of important ecosystem services, hence the need to conserve it.

The Fish River region includes a wide range of vegetation types dominated by various forms of thicket and bushland, interspersed with afromontane forest in the cooler valleys and kloofs, shrubland and low fynbos, and grassland thicket.

The natural vegetation of the area also has subtropical thicket characterized by closed shrubland to low forest dominated by evergreen, sclerophyllous or succulent trees, shrubs and vines. It is often almost impenetrable, is generally not divided into strata, and has little herbaceous cover. The subtropical thicket (also known as valley bushveld), is characterized by impenetrable Spekboom. This vegetation protected the last remaining elephant and buffalo from being wiped out by hunters.

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   Accommodation

Umso Bed and Breakfast Caterers
Situated in the Joza Location of Grahamstown, this B&B offers accommodation at affordable rates to travellers and to...

   Arts & Crafts

Andile Fine Art
Andile Dantsi started practicing art as a hobby. He makes art by recycling plastic bags, bottles, paper, sand and other...

Imizamo Cultural Group
This group comprises young school children who are taught traditional dances based on the cultural history of the Mhala...

Khanya Traditional Mats
This project started in the early 1980’s with Nothemba as the sole proprietor with a few staff. It expanded throug...

Masibuse Sewing Project
Nobuntu trains various ladies in the village in sewing as a form of income generating activity. Various sewing products...

Simanye Cultural Dance Group
This dance group was founded on the principle of culture preservation. In 2003 a group of school children were trained i...

   Environment

Eastern Cape Parks Board
The Great Fish River Reserve (GFRR), straddles the Great Fish River in the south-east of the Eastern Cape Province, and...

Von Hake's Hill Farm
Mr. Gabayi’s farm focuses on the small scale production of livestock (cattle, goats, chickens). His farm is situat...

   Services

Nomzamo Special Care Centre
Nomzamo Special Care Centre was established in 2006 and provides care and education for thirty children of various ages...

The Angus Gillis Foundation
The Angus Gillis foundation is an independent charitable trust that was initiated by Kwandwe Private Game Reserve in 200...

 

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South Africa - Eastern Cape

South Africa - Eastern Cape

The Fish River (Nxuba) Valley is located adjacent to a thriving game-farming area of the Eastern Cape. The Mbodla Eco-heritage Route adds an original, Afro-centric, environmental, cultural and heritage dimension to the region’s offerings.

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Key Contacts

Name:
Chief Makinana

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culture heritage

 

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