Geography and History


The Amathole, which means “the calves of the Drakensberg” in Xhosa, is a municipal district that lies in the central coastal portion of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa.   The name refers to the pastoral way of life of the rural Xhosa communities who still graze their colourful Nguni cattle on her foothills today.

With a population of 1 660 000 and covering an area of 23 675km², the extremely diverse Amathole covers important settlements including Buffalo City (East London) together with other smaller towns. Its boundaries stretch from the Great Fish River in the south to the Dwesa/Cwebe Nature Reserve in the east. They also stretch north past Hogsback and take in the towns of Bedford, Seymour, Cathcart, Ngqamakwe, Dutywa and Elliotdale.

Famous for being the cradle of South Africa’s democracy, the region is the home of educational institutions such as Fort Hare University and Lovedale College which produced struggle leaders such as former President Nelson Mandela, the late Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko and former President Thabo Mbeki as well as Zulu chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi.



The Amathole region offers tourists a mild climate.  Dotted with rolling grasslands and hills and some of the most unspoiled estuaries, malaria-free game reserves, and wildly beautiful coastline, all make this one one of the most beautiful regions in the Eastern Cape..

The Wild Coast, Sunshine Coast, Frontier Country and Amathole Mountain Escape tourism routes fall within the boundaries of the Amathole Region.  The Wild Coast is famous for its rolling green hills decorated with traditional Xhosa villages, the wild and rugged coastline and the adventure tourism.

Legend of early settlers and Xhosa kings, San paintings and a wealth of African art collection at the University of Fort Hare and traditional villages add to the region’s heritage and history collection.

Peppered with little German and British settler towns including Bedford, Adelaide, Fort Beaufort, Stutterheim, Hamburg and Cathcart, Amathole includes eight local municipalities and 21 former magisterial districts. Tourism is concentrated along the coastal strip which gives way to the pristine green hills of rural areas includes hidden away treasures such as Haga Haga, Chinstsa, Kei Mouth and Morgan Bay with their lovely holiday beaches.  

Access to the Amathole district is served by the East London Airport, the East London river port, the good N2 and N6 national roads and a rail network.



A wide range of accommodation is available in this region from luxury hotels, exclusive country retreats, cosy bed and breakfasts, self-catering chalets Game Lodges and excellent camping facilities.


Contact Details:

Tel: +27 (0) 43 701 4000

Fax: +27 (0) 43 742 0337



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