Your cultural awakening starts here
From local arts and crafts such as beadwork, weaving, sewing and pottery to traditional dancing, cuisine and storytelling, the Umzimvubu region is alive with cultural heritage. To experience this hospitality and an authentic African way of life first hand, a visit to any of the Cultural Villages in the area is a must. Let the beat of the Xhosa spirit guide you in your journey through the unspoilt landscapes of Umzimvubu.
The Craft Route
The Craft Route runs between Matatiele and Mount Frere, linking the Matatiele and Umzimvubu districts. This route provides the best of both worlds - the beauty and excitement of the great outdoors in Matatiele, and the traditional cultural awakenings in Umzimvubu.
As the name suggests, there are numerous craft centres to be explored along this stretch of road, from where one can browse or purchase authentic Xhosa craftwork, such as woven goods, beadwork, pottery or taste some home-made cuisine.
A Diverse Experience Awaits
There are currently a number of tourism initiatives under way in Ntabankulu. The Ntabankulu Cultural Village will offer vendor facilities for local craftspeople to exhibit their traditional crafts. An adjoining restaurant will serve traditional foods. The Ntabankulu Arts and Craft Centre will be used as a secondary cooperative centre specialising in Mpondo beadwork and traditional garments, Sotho traditional garments and dances.
The Ntabankulu Dam has potential as a tourist destination and development could include a game reserve along with a Conference Centre, Hotel and Arts & Craft Centre. Activities at the dam would include water sports, fishing, game viewing, hiking, eco and cultural tourism.
The Xukula Bushmen Graves at Bathweni Village, date back to the 1880s and during times of drought, locals assemble to sing and dance at the grave of the last Bushman, Ngwevana Mhlatyana. It is said that within hours of this traditional ceremony, rain will fall.
A Rich Heritage
To experience the hospitality and way of life first hand, a visit to the Cultural Villages located outside Mount Frere and Mount Ayliff is a must. They promise a true African experience, where visitors can spend the day with the local people, enjoying their traditional storytelling, visiting healers and development projects and enjoying some of the local food and drink.
Local craft traditions of the area include beadwork, sewing, pottery and weaving. Hand-woven materials comprise generally functional items such as sleeping mats, baskets and strainers, while Xhosa ceremonial clothing is often elaborately decorated with fine embroidery work.
The impressive Mfundisweni Mission was requested by King Faku of AmaPondo (1780-1867), with the assistance of Rev. Thomas Jenkins, in an effort to curb the tribal wars that were raging at that time.