Information and history

ID #1770

Central Highlands of Lesotho, Southern Africa.

Spectacular lakes and landscapes. The Highlands Water Project created a water and electricity supply for Lesotho and many of the nearby regions in South Africa, and has opened the area to tourism.  New roads provide better access, and the new lakes create stunning vistas and are home to an increasing numbers of birds.  We will soon have new accommodation in the region, and new opportunities for watersports such as sailing and windsurfing.  This is already a great area for pony trekking, hiking and trout fishing. Attractions include:

o    Ha Baroana Rock Paintings.  39-km east of Maseru and 5.5-km along a gravel road north of the main road is a vantage point over the Liphiring Stream that faces an overhanging rock called Ha Baroana – the home of the Bushman (Bushman) . Here they left a magnificent gallery of paintings such as leopard, lion, eland as well as blue crane and guinea fowl.  There are also fine paintings from Bushman (Bushmen) life – hunting, dancing and people in huts.  From the main vantage point a trail zigzags down past the curator’s hut to the stream where visitors cross to gain access to the paintings.
o    Molimo Nthuse.  One of the principal pony-trekking centres in Lesotho, with a comfortable, established lodge nearby. The lodge reflects typical Lesotho designs, with a circular, conical roofed main building thatched in the traditional way.  The pony trekking centre is operated by the Ministry for Agriculture, and provides excellent ponies and guides. There are about 80 ponies, about half of which are owned by the centre and half by locals.  It offers a wide selection of treks ranging from a few hours to several days.
o    The Mountain Passes.  Travelling east from Molimo Nthuse, you cross several mountain passes before reaching Thaba-Tseka, each with superb vistas of mountain peaks, steep gorges, tumbling streams and broad valleys.  Bearded vultures and other unusual birds can often be seen from the summits.
o    Mafika Lisiu Pass.  This pass has a particularly good vantagepoint from the car park down the deep valley to Pitseng as well as, in the other direction, across the high plateau to Ha Lejone.  This area is renowned for its bearded vultures a well as several other montane birds such as the orange-breasted rockjumper and an attractive marmot-like rodent (Otomys slogetti) that is referred to locally as an ice rat.  It is endemic to the area and is only found above 2000-m.
o    Malibamatso Bridge across the Katse Dam.  There is a fine vantage point towards the new bridge that crosses the northern end of Lake Katse and the Intake Tower. It will be an important centre for watersports in future and will have a range of comfortable accommodation for tourists.  It is also a wonderful area for birders and is notable for the numbers of small montane birds (thrushes and buntings mainly) that are present.
o    Ha Seshote.  The road to the Katse Dam rises and turns away from the lake for some distance beyond the Malibamatso Bridge before returning to the Lake near Bokong.  It is an important area for spotting bald ibis, which often follow farmers as they cultivate their fields.
o    Katse Dam and Wall near Bokong.  This centrepiece of the project is a fine piece of engineering, retaining what is second in size only to the Lake Volta Akosombo Dam in Ghana.  The surroundings are magnificent and construction work in the area will soon be completed.  The existing lodge will be converted for use by tourists and will be similar in size to the Mmelesi Lodge at Thaba Bosiu.  Katse Lake will be devoted to water sports. Motorboats ply across the lake, carrying villagers from one side to the other.  There is an interpretative centre that features a model of the project and its phases, with commentary in English.

The best border crossings are at Maseru Bridge (Maseru), Ficksburg or Caledonspoort (Fouriesburg).  The main road from Maseru takes you east via Molimo Nthuse to Mantsonyane and Thaba-Tseka.  From Hlotse (Leribe), the main Highlands Water Project road tales you past Pitseng and Ha Lejone to the Katse Dam Wall and Bokong.  BDCentral   

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Last update: 2014-05-12 16:28
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.2

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