Transkei - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Transkei


The Transkei (meaning 'across the Kei') is a region situated roughly between East London and Durban in the Eastern Cape, bordered by the Great Kei River in the south and the Umtamvuna River near Port Edward in the north.

Characterised by green rolling hills scattered with round thatched huts, and a stunning coastline, the ruggedly beautiful Transkei region has become increasingly attractive to tourists seeking an unspoilt experience of South Africa, a far cry from the many westernised luxuries that can be found throughout most of the country. The Wild Coast is perhaps the most visited part, with stretches of golden beach sprinkled with shells, overlooked by traditional Xhosa villages set amid the green hills, and punctuated by rough potholed roads.

Coffee Bay and Port St John's are the two main tourist towns and have become a haven for independent travellers and backpackers. Hole-in-the-Wall close to Coffee Bay is a popular attraction, a geographical marvel where the sea has pounded a tunnel through a huge rock in the sea.

Historically, the Transkei was one of the homelands created by the Apartheid government to be set aside for black, Xhosa-speaking South Africans until it became an independent state in 1976 with Umtata (Mthatha) as the capital. Today the only reason to visit Umtata is to see the Nelson Mandela Museum that showcases his life in photos and displays. Just to the north the little town of Qunu lays its claim to fame as the birthplace of Mandela.

Information & Facts


The Transkei's climate is subtropical with plenty of rainfall during the summer months and hot, humid weather. Winter weather is dry and mild. Average daytime temperatures during the summer from November to March range from 70F to 79F (21C to 26C). The coldest time of the year is at night during the winter months when the temperature drops to around 50F (10C).

South Africa has 11 official languages, including Afrikaans, English, Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho. English is widely spoken.

South Africa's currency is the Rand (ZAR), which is divided into 100 cents. Money can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and the larger hotels. ATMs are widely available (there is a daily limit for cash withdrawals) and major international credit cards are widely accepted, except in petrol stations where cash is required. Visitors should be vigilant when drawing cash from ATMs, as con artists are known to operate there. Travellers cheques and some foreign currencies are accepted at larger hotels and shops, but commission is charged, otherwise all commercial banks will exchange them.

Local time is GMT +2.
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