In 1920, after extensive research to find one of the most pleasant all-year round weather locations in South Africa for the next leper colony, the local people were forcibly moved out of the area and a leper hospital was established on these rolling coastal grasslands. When leprosy was cured, that hospital became a tuberculosis facility. Finally, in 1977, the area was became a formal provincial nature reserve and wildlife was reintroduced.
In early 2000, seven villages inland from Mkambati formed a trust to represent the rights of their community members, whose ancestors were the original inhabitants of the land. Their land claim has been successful and today the Mkambati Land Trust owns the Mkambati Nature Reserve. The Eastern Cape Parks & Tourism Authority provides the conservation management of the reserve and Mkambati Matters (Pty) Ltd is the contracted partner for the northern, private sector of the reserve. The Mkambati Land Trust have agreed to expand Mkambati Reserve by around 40% and committed the use of the reserve in perpetuity to conservation in return for the financial benefits and jobs that the reserve will create.
Mkambati Matters tendered and won the rights to develop their newly restituted land. Contracts have been agreed upon and signed between the Mkambati Land Trust, the Eastern Cape Government and Mkambati Matters (Pty) Ltd – and the EIA issued. Building has commenced and the new lodge is scheduled to open just before Easter 2024.
The lease obliges Mkambati Matters (Pty) Ltd to build up to a 30 bedded boutique lodge (starting with 22 beds) and in time, fully self-contained villas. The community will benefit from the creation of hundreds of new jobs; their lease fees; the creation of community owned business and many other financial and upliftment benefits. These tourism beds and the secondary, community owned, businesses that will supply the lodge with produce and services will become the prime economic driver for the people in the region and will help invigorate the profile of tourism to this sector of the Wild Coast.
The Concession agreement to which all parties are bound, binds Mkambati Matters (Pty) Ltd as the developer to build a prestigious, “ultra-green” lodge that will be totally off the grid, powered by the latest and most efficient solar and wind technologies.
To help fund the conservation of the reserve and help finance and manage the upliftment projects within the communities, the Mkambati Conservation and Community NPC has been formed which is in the process of being registered as a Section 18a PBO entity. All park fees etc. charged, as well as a 1% of turnover will accrue to this entity.