©South African Tourism
Umtata was the capital of the nominally independent bantustan of the Transkei
during the apartheid regime, so it’s a pretty big town, with a university and loads of infrastructural buildings. However, it still feels like an African village. It’s crowded and frenetic. Umtata is the biggest town on the N2
, and it’s close to the turn off for the lovely Wild Coast
resort towns of Coffee Bay
and Port St Johns
, so it’s a natural stopping place for fuel and refreshing. It also has a small airport
with limited flights, so you might end up flying in. It’s not really the sort of place you’d want to spend too much time, unless you’re on business, but it’s a good overnight option if you’re driving through. It’s really not wise to drive through the Transkei at night, as the roads have numerous potholes and are unfenced so the chances of an inconvenient encounter with a large domestic animal are quite significant. And many of the local vehicles are not particularly road-worthy so headlights and tail lights are often considered optional.
But don’t just drive through – there is one very worthwhile stop. The Nelson Mandela Museum, which is conveniently situated on the N2, is a loving tribute to the world’s favourite politician. Budget an hour or so for this heart-warming interlude, and wander around this small, but interesting, museum and try to figure out just what makes this great man tick.