Basotho Cultural Village
A visit to the Basotho Cultural Village is a must when visiting the Free State. The Cultural Village provides visitors with insight into the lifestyle of the local Basotho people from the 16th century to the present day. A visit to the Cultural Village is easily a whole days’ worth of activity and can include an herb trail and a pony ride into the nearby Qwaqwa Reserve.
Nestled in the foothills of sandstone mountains, the guided tour of the Basotho Cultural Village starts in the Khatloa or ‘meeting place’. Tradition requires that visitors are invited by the chief before entering the village. Here, they are introduced to the chief. He will offer them traditional Basotho hospitality by offering visitors a sip of traditional Sotho beer. They may also get the chance to play a game or two of the traditional game maraba-raba. The ngaka or traditional healer will offer to throw the bones for the visitors and offer them the same wisdom that he offers the chief.
|Experience the way the original inhabitants lived
The next stop is the houses of the village. These homes are built in the traditional Basotho way and decorated inside and outside by the wives of the chief in a process known as litem’. These vibrant and dynamic designs are still seen in many parts of the Free State to this day and are characteristic of the Basotho villages. In the homes visitors will get to taste motoho or dipabi. The wives will also explain the different utensils and how they are used in the day-to-day life of the village.
A visit to the Basotho Cultural Village does not have to stop there. Follow the lead of a social ecologist and the ngaka on the Matlakeng Herbal Trail. This trail travels along the sour grass veld, through old woodlands and past clear mountain streams. The guides will reveal the variety of herbs, barks, roots and leaves that have been used in the area for centuries to cure ailments from common toothaches to stomach ulcers.
For the more adventurous a guided pony trail also starts at the Basotho Cultural Village. Ride on the back of one of the local Basotho ponies. These sturdy animals have long been known for the endurance, surefootedness and even temper. The guides will lead you along a trail in the Qwaqwa National Park where visitors will get an up close and personal view of the animals that call the park their home. Be warned though, these trails can take up to four hours!
Upon returning, visitors will be able to enjoy a traditional Basotho meal in the sandstone amphitheatre. Take a look at the gallery that contains the work of local artists and a fascinating photographic record of the building and decorating of the Basotho Cultural Village. Before they leave, visitors can also take a look at the curio shop where handmade crafts are sold for a very reasonable price.
The Basotho Cultural Village is an experience that visitors will not soon forget. For a brief moment they will be transported to a time when the wilds of Africa were still unknown and the Basotho people lived in harmony with their surroundings.
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