Lusikisiki, a trading, transport and labour-recruiting centre, about 40 km north of Port St Johns, derives its name from the Xhosa word for the sound of the wind rustling through the reeds at a nearby marsh and along the rivers in the area. The area between Lusikisiki and the coastal spots of Msikaba and Mbotyi […]


The town of Matatiele was founded on the edges of a marsh in the southern reaches of the Drakensberg Mountain Range. The marsh was given the Sotho name of “Madi-I-Yila”, meaning “The Ducks have Flown”, after the marsh had been drained. Until 1874 the area was the hideout of a collection of lawless smugglers, cattle […]

Mazeppa Bay

Mazeppa Bay, a small resort, 50 km north-east of Kentani, on the edge of the Manubi Forest, has some of the Wild Coast’s most idyllic beaches. The three beaches are all fringed by dense groves of wild date-palms and boast giant sand dunes, prehistoric shell middens and rich oyster beds. The bay was named after […]

Mount Ayliff

Mount Ayliff lies about 140 km north of Umtata and was probably named after the Rev John Ayliff who ran a missionary station nearby. However, two other men named Ayliff, William and James, who were government employees in the area during the 1870s, may also lay claim to this honour. Of these two James Ayliff […]

Mount Frere (Kwabhaca)

This small village, 100 km north of Umtata on the N2, known by the locals as KwaBhaca – ”The Place of the Bhaca”, was established in 1876 and named after Sir Bartle Frere, Governor of the Cape. Today, the village, surrounded by green, indigenous forests, is the commercial centre of the local Bhaca people. The […]

Port Grosvenor

Port Grosvenor is situated on Lwambasi Bay where two rival traders attempted to establish a port for Pondoland in 1885. The undertaking was doomed to failure but the spot stayed in the news as numerous attempts were made to salvage the so-called treasures of the “Grosvenor”, a ship that sank here in 1782. The legend […]

Port St Johns

This beautiful coastal town is situated on the banks of the Umzimvubu River among spectacular, densely forested cliffs. It is commonly believed that the town was named after the Portuguese vessel, “Sao Joao” which ran aground at the mouth of the Umtamvuna River, about 80 km further north, in June 1552. It was thought that […]


Umtata, set on the banks of the Umtata River, was the capital of the former homeland of Transkei. The town was established in the 1860s as a so-called “white buffer zone” between two warring Xhosa tribes, the Thembu and Mpondo and white settlers were encouraged to live along the Umtata River. Today, Umtata retains much […]