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This smallish city on the banks of the Mthtata River was the capital of the nominally independent Bantustan of the Transkei during the apartheid era, and was previously known as Umtata. It is the largest town in the Transkei region and is quite central. If travelling to Port St Johns, you’d need to turn off here, but keep a pretty careful look out for the turn-off, as it is not well signposted. The turn-off to Coffee Bay is 20km on the East London side of town. It is a pretty typical little African town, with fuel stations and fast food joints, so it is a convenient place to stop, refuel and rest en route to the coast or to or from KwaZulu-Natal, as there are large, efficient fuel complexes with fast-food joints and all the usual trappings. It’s worth taking the time to visit the Nelson Mandela Museum, which showcases the life of the world’s favourite politician, and is conveniently situated on the N2.

Mthata is on the N2, about 250km north of East London, and about 400km south of Durban. Mthata Airport handles flights only to and from Johannesburg.

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