Joe Gqabi (Ukhahlamba)

The Joe Gqabi District Municipality (Ukhahlamba region) is situated in the Northern region of the Eastern Cape Proviince of South Africa. The region covers an area of 26 518km², and is bordered by Lesotho to the north-east and the Limpopo Province to the north-west. Joe Gqabi’s (Ukhahlamba’s) population figure stands at around 328 000. At 14 people per square kilometre it has the lowest population rate of all the districts. Xhosa is the main language spoken.

Key towns in the district are Aliwal North, Burgersdorp, Barkly East, Maclear and Mount Fletcher. The seat of Ukhahlamba is Barkly East.

Ukhahlamba, meaning “Barrier of Spears” in Xhosa, is the name given to the mighty Drakensberg mountain range that runs into this northern district of the Eastern Cape. Bordered by Lesotho to the east and the Limpopo Province to the north-west, the Drakensberg’s flat grazing plains rise up to mountains which are often covered with snow in winter.

The most famous natural features of thisregion are the winding Orange River, Lake !Gariep which is a water sport enthusiast’s paradise, and the Southern Drakensberg boasting Southern Africa’s only snow ski resort at Tiffindell near Rhodes.

An eco-tourist’s paradise, Ukhahlamba has a rich fossil history and rock art sites are plentiful.

Other activities include scenic mountain biking routes, trout fishing, horse trails, 4×4 routes and quaint Victorian towns like Lady Grey and Rhodes which was proclaimed a national monument in 1997.

The region includes Aliwal North, famed for its hot springs and Anglo-Boer War Garden of Remembrance while Lady Grey offers pretty churches, fossil trails and the renowned Lady Grey Arts Academy.

Part of the Friendly N6 Route, with all its farm stays, runs through this district.