- Free State
Phuthaditjhaba, Free State
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Phuthaditjhaba, formerly known as Witsieshoek to European settlers, is situated in the Eastern Free State where the Drakensberg meets the Lesotho Maluti Mountains. The town lies approximately one hour away from Bethlehem and Clarens.
Phuthaditjhaba is a Sotho town and Capital of the former Independent South Sotho Homeland of QwaQwa, re-integrated into South Africa after the fall of Apartheid in 1994. Its’ name means “meeting place of Nations or Tribes” and QwaQwa which means “whiter than white” in reference to the often snow-capped mountains that surround the town.
The town lies in a particularly scenic corner of the country which makes for excellent photography. The locals in Phuthaditjhaba are known for their friendliness and welcoming smiles and the region is a popular holiday destination for outdoor enthusiasts, offering activities such as hiking, biking, bird watching and fishing.
Phuthaditjhada has a range of accommodation in the region from guesthouses in the town to lodges, camping and self-catering resort units in the surrounding area.
Things to do and see
- Golden Gate National Park
- Royal Natal National Park
- Sterkfontein Dam
- The Sentinel Peak Hiking Trail
- Maluti Cave Hike
- Maluti Picnic Resort
- Basotho Cultural Village
- Batlokoa Monument
- Prophet Walter Matita Memorial
- Amphitheatre Golf Course
Phuthaditjhaba receives approximately 813 mm of rain annually with most of its annual rainfall during summer.
Summer months, November to March will have average temperatures of between 12˚C and 27˚C.
Winter months, May to August will have average temperatures of between 0˚C and 19˚C.
There are daily flights into Pietermaritzburg Airport approximately 271 km away via the N3 and into the Bram Fischer International Airport in Bloemfontein approximately 328 Km’s away along the N5 and N1. Car hire facilities are available at the Airport.
In the 1830's a group of Kgolokwa tribespeople under a chief named Whêtse fled for sanctuary from Zulu raiding bands into a rugged glen where the elands River, after tumbling headlong off the summit of Mont-aux-Sources, finds a complex way through the sandstone foothills of the Maluti Mountains. In this wild glen, after the Zulu raids had stopped Whêtse, or Witsie, and his men set themselves up as cattle rustlers. They were so proficient that in 1856 a commando was mustered by the farmers of the Orangeto flush them out.
Whêtse and his men retreated to a cave where the commando besieged them. The rustlers were defeated but Whêtse escaped through a secret tunnel and fled deep into the mountains of Lesotho. The government of the Free State kept careful control of the glen which from that time was known as Witsieshoek.
Friendly Kwena and Tlokwa tribespeople were settled in the area and in 1874 a mission station of the Dutch Reformed Church was established here.
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