Mngqesha Great Place Project
Did you know?
Giant earthworms live around Mngqesha, making the soil particularly fertile.
The Mngqesha Great Place Project lies in the foothills of the Amathole Mountains. Thickly covered in rare yellowwoods, these mountains have long had deep cultural and spiritual significance for the Xhosa people.
It is also here that King Sandile, one of the greatest leaders of the Xhosa nation, was buried after being killed during the War of the Axe in the 1840s.
Mngqesha village, not far from King William’s Town, is the headquarters of the modern-day King Sandile’s royal house, usually called the Rharhabe Kingdom. The Mngqesha Great Place Project includes the king’s home, the Sandile Memorial with the graves of his forefathers, as well as the Ubukhosi village and conference centre.
On the insistence of the modern King Sandile (now deceased), the tourism facilities were established to help to uplift the surrounding communities through skills transfer, jobs and income.
The area lies on the edge of the biologically rich Amathole Mountains. No fewer than 5 distinct plant ecosystems converge here: Afro-montane, grassland, Nama Karoo, fynbos, and Pondoland coastal flora. Parts of it look like a land straight out of Lord of the Rings, and some say author JRR Tolkien’s son travelled here and wrote to him of it.
King Sandile threw his support behind a conservation initiative to protect this wildly scenic biodiversity by creating a 100 000 hectare Amathole Mountain Biosphere Reserve.
Plans are also being made to introduce antelope species into the area around the Mngqesha Great Place, and a cultural walking trail is being established up to the Sandile Memorial. Conservation is critical here – this is where the great Buffalo River rises, a very sensitive catchment.
Walk here with a guide to appreciate the indigenous vegetation and then, atop a hill with a magnificent view of the Amathole Mountains and the villages below, you will find the memorial with a life-sized lion, the totem animal of the late King Sandile.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Mngqesha Great Place
Tel: +27 (0) 40 635 0244
Cell: +27 (0) 82 897 1727