Malealea Lodge & Pony Trek Centre
web: www.malealea.com www.malealea.co.ls
Archaeological work at rock shelters in the Qacha's Nek district shows that people have lived there for more than 50 000 years. By the mid- 19th century Baphuthi occupied the area, and it is from one of these that the town derives its name. Qacha's Nek was founded to provide for the paying of taxes and issuing of passes in an area where the nearest government facility had previously been Moyeni. Closely adjoining the watershed between the waters of the Senqu (or Orange) system and those of the Mzimvubu catchment, Qacha's Nek later became a separate district. Right up to independence, Qacha's Nek had no direct road communication with the remainder of Lesotho, and depended on the town of Matatiele in East Griqualand for supplies. This linkage was particularly important, given that Matatiele had a rail link by which migrant workers could travel to the mines.
By Independence, Qacha's Nek had grown sufficiently to have a small hotel, with some striking sandstone church buildings. Sehlabathebe National Park was established in 1970 some 50 kilometres north-east of the town. A track from Qacha's Nek to Sehlabathebe was opened early in 1973 - previously it had been necessary to travel through South Africa. Roads beyond this point and within the park remain suitable only for four-wheel drive vehicles. Air transport thus remains important, and the town has an airstrip with a tarred runway. Scheduled flights to Maseru connect there with smaller planes that serve a number of airstrips in the upper Senqu Valley. A training centre for farmers has been established and the town has acquired a second hotel and a government hospital, now used exclusively for tuberculosis patients.