This town lies in a glen where the Elands River forces its way through the sandstone foothills of the Maluti Mountains after flowing from the summit of Mont-aux-Sources in the Drakensberg Mountain Range. The name Qwa-Qwa was bestowed on this area by the ancient San because in their language it meant “whiter than white”, referring to the surrounding snow-capped mountains that lend a special charm to the area during the cold winter months. The Afrikaans-speaking community renamed the town Witsieshoek, after Wetse, chief of the BaTlokwa section of the Basotho people, who settled here after the Zulu raids on smaller tribes had ended. In 1969 the area was granted self-government as Qwa-Qwa, the homeland of the baSotho ba Borwa (“Sotho people of the south”).
Adventure And Sport
4×4 routes: Exhilarating off-road tracks in the area cater for 4×4 enthusiasts.
Golf: Golfers are welcome to try out the ‘high altitude” Qwa-Qwa Golf Club.
Hiking and rock climbing: There are several hiking trails in the area; amongst others the Herbal Trail, the renowned Sentinel Trail and a series of trails to the back of the Drakensberg Amphitheatre from which rock formations, such as the Devil’s Tooth, the Eastern Buttress and Tugela Falls can be seen. The Sentinel Trail to the top of the most northerly point in the Drakensberg Mountain Range gives hikers and rock climbers an opportunity to take in the stunningly beautiful scenery of the area and also that of the magnificent Drakensberg Mountain Range. Hikers and climbers can reach Sentinel Peak and Mont-aux-Sources via different climbing routes and with the help of a series of chain-aided ascents.
Hunting: Bird- and trophy-hunting facilities are available in the area.
Trout-fishing: Two dams in the vicinity, Fika Patso and Metsi Matso Dams are open for trout-fishing throughout the year.
Archaeology And Palaeontology
San Rock Art: Make a point of visiting the many San rock art sites in the area. Visitors can admire the rock art in true, traditional Basotho style, from the back of a pony.
ART AND CRAFTS
Art and crafts: Typical Basotho art and crafts can be bought at all the various curio shops in and around the town. Items on sale include mohair wall hangings, karakul carpets, hand-painted porcelain, copper and brass work, cane furniture, baskets and glassware.
Basotho Cultural Village: To learn more about the lifestyle of the Basotho (the South Sotho), you should pay a visit to the Basotho Cultural Village just off Road R712 (the QwaQwa/Golden Gate road). The village is situated within the borders of the Qwa-Qwa National Park. On your arrival, a friendly receptionist will show you an introductory video followed by demonstrations of hut decoration, crushing of maize, traditional dancing and basketry. The tour will then officially commence with a visit to the chief of the village; you have to have his permission before proceeding with the tour. He will offer you Sotho beer as a token of hospitality, after which you will be allowed to partake in a traditional game called “marabaraba”. Visitors may visit the dwellings of the first and second wives of the chief and may enjoy some traditional food including “motoho” (porridge made of sorghum) and “dipadi” (toasted ground maize with a bit of salt and sugar). During the meal, the guide will explain some of the interesting utensils used by the Sotho people. African curios are sold at the village. Visitors may also follow the Herb Route, during which the guide will explain more about traditional medicinal plants that grow in the area. The village often produces song, dance and music festivals. Tourists who prefer to stay longer can overnight in one of the self-catering chalets.
Entertainment And Shopping
Fika Patso Mountain Resort: Fika Patso Mountain Resort is situated against the backdrop of the Devil’s Tooth and Sentinel peaks of the rugged Drakensberg Mountains. The resort offers comfortable accommodation and its location makes it an ideal base for all forms of adventure sport and angling.
Maluti Picnic Resort: The Maluti Picnic Resort is a lovely scenic spot for a picnic.
Witsieshoek Mountain Resort: Visit this lovely resort situated at an altitude of 2 680 m above sea level in an area where you can view some of the most spectacular scenery in South Africa.
Fauna And Flora
Qwa-Qwa National Park: The 22 000-ha Qwa-Qwa National Park is located on the Harrismith – Golden Gate Road. It offers the discerning birdwatcher a rich variety of birds, including aquatic birds in the marshy areas, and game-watchers will be able to see a variety of antelope, such as eland, red hartebeest and springbuck, as well as zebra. The grassy slopes of the park are an ideal habitat for the marsh rat, an important prey for small carnivores and raptors. Guided horse trails can be undertaken, as well as the two-day Avondrus/Spelonken Hiking Trail. Those who want to do the complete trail can overnight in a hut at Spelonken. The reserve also has three 4×4 routes that will take from three to eight hours to complete, depending on the trail chosen. The trails are closed in summer to minimise damage to the environment. The gorges within the reserve are densely vegetated and trees such as ouhout, white stinkwood, kiepersol, karee, yellowwood and wild olive form part of the abundance of species of plants in the region. Colourful displays of white or different shades of pink and purple cosmos flowers welcome the visitor in autumn. Cosmos is actually an exotic weed but it is particularly attractive when in bloom. Indigenous flowers in the reserve include watsonia, arum, gladioli and scilla.
History And Architecture
Batlokwa Monument/Museum: The monument was erected in honour of the Tlokwa chief, Wetse, and the museum exhibits interesting exhibits from that time.
Paulos Mopedi Statue: A statue of Paulos Mopedi, the founder of the town, stands in Namahadi Village.