Phuthaditjhaba is situated in the Thabo Mofutsanyana region, the name of this town is Sotho and it means “Meeting Place of the Nations”. The ancient San people called this region Qwa-Qwa which means “whiter than white” because the mountain peaks frequently had snow on it.
It was known as Witsieshoek to the European settlers, after Oetse, also Witsie and Wetsi, a Makholokoe chief who lived there from 1839 to 1856.
Since apartheid was abolished in the country in 1994, Phuthaditjhaba has become an energetic townits total population is around 60 000 residents.
Phuthaditjhaba is the formal gateway to rural Qwa-Qwa. Service provision in the area is difficult – the land is mountainous and homes in remote areas lack access to basic services. Qwa-Qwa is the poorest area in the Free State Province.
From Phuthaditjhaba you can visit:
• Golden Gate Highlands National Park covering an area of 340 km2 (130 sq mi). The park’s most notable features are its golden, ochre, and orange-hued, deeply eroded sandstone cliffs and outcrops, especially the Brandwag rock.
Another feature of the area is the numerous caves and shelters displaying San rock paintings. Wildlife featured at the park includes mongooses, eland, zebras, and over 100 bird species. It is the Free State’s only national park, and is more famous for the beauty of its landscape than for its wildlife. Numerous paleontology finds have been made in the park, including dinosaur eggs and skeletons.
• Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge – At 2286m above sea level, the Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge offers spectacular views of Sentinel Peak and the Amphitheatre. Owned by the local Batlokloa community, the resort offers a range of upgraded accommodation.
You can also hike to Mont-aux-Sources, camp overnight on the mountain, try base jumping or go mountain biking. A must-see is the Vulture Restaurant which serves up fresh, safe carcasses for the threatened Bearded Vultures that live in the area.
• Basotho Cultural Village – On your way through the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, pop in at the Basotho Cultural Village for an interactive tour of traditional Sotho life from the 16th century to now. You can also take a two-hour guided hiking trail to explore a nearby rock-art site and learn about the area’s medicinal and plants.
• Sterkfontein Dam and Nature Reserve – fishing and game viewing