Open Africa
Open Africa

Mbodla Eco-Heritage Route



Below is a list of accommodation establishments along this route. Bookings and enquiries can be made directly with the establishment.

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

Below is a list of arts and crafts outlets and projects on this route. Enquiries can be made directly with the business.

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

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

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


Below is a list of environmental attractions on this route. Booking and enquiries can be made directly with the business.

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

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...


Below is a list of services on this route. Enquiries can be made directly with the business.

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

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...

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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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 2 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.

Bedford Garden Festival:

When: 23 - 25 October 2015

Where: Bedford, Nxuba Local Municipality, Amathole District

Contact Person(s): Catherine Knox - General Enquiries, Media & Marketing

Cell: +27 82 932 8864



The Garden Festival is a touring adventure. With our comprehensive map you will discover stunning scenery on quiet country roads, visiting open gardens en route. Meet the gardeners and pick their brains – local know-how is based on generations of experience. Choose from masses of home-grown plants and gardening necessities, meander through the craft stalls at The Country Fair and stock up on locally-produced pantry-fillers in our Food Market. 

*Information correct at the time of publication - prospective event participants are advised to contact the organisers for any possible updates.



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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Open Africa Routes

A route is a cluster of travel attractions, accommodation, tour operators, local artisans, guides and restaurants. It brings people together from all levels of community to promote travel to their area. You select what interests you on a route and create your own itinerary.

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.

Key Contacts

Chief Makinana

Mobile: Click here


culture heritage eastern-cape xhosa-culture


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