‘More discoveries!’: Hiking Qeme Plateau, Maseru, Lesotho

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Lindy is used to hiking and Mr. Ntsane is an initiation school teacher assigned by chief Sechaba Lerotholi of Ha Teko village to tour guide us up to the top of the plateau as there were two different initiation schools on top of Qeme.

“Last night I was up taking the boys for a four month camp as part of fulfilment of their initiation into manhood,” said Ntsane.

Our hike started with a brief stop at the bushmen painting at Lefikeng la Baroa (loosely translated : Bushmen paintings’ rock). The paintings are highly endangered.

A brief stop at the bushmen paintings' rock
A brief stop at the bushmen paintings’ rock

The painted rock is just about 200 meters from Chief Sechaba’s house. However, they are still visible and clear, especially when water is poured on the rock. These are some of the practices by the community members as they try to make the paintings to be visible to visitors.

Qeme plateau stretches 16 kilo meters long from Ha Teko to Ha Mants’ebo. It is flat with no trees or anywhere to hide in case of extreme sun heat or heavy rains. If we were energetic enough, we would have walked a three to four hours walk to the 1868 Free State Boer commando base just on top of Ha Thaabe village, one of the villages along the foot of Qeme plateau. There we would have seen the ‘writings’ on the rock.

According to David Ambrose at is book Maseru and Illustrated History, there the Boer commando has written in Hebrew that “God has helped them to conquer Lesotho”. Ambrose is featuring a newspaper clip’s advertisement of an auction of plots at what is now Thetsane, Ha Tsolo and other places around Qeme plateau. The auction took place in Bloemonfontein, Free State, Republic of South Africa sometimes in 1868. Ambrose reports that all the places including Morija, except Thaba Bosiu, were conquered.

Unfortunately our tourist, Lindy had only 3 hours to make it to the top of the plateau and back. However, that was very good as, I confess, I last hiked Qeme plateau in July, 2010 and I was down with energy to walk the 45 minute up the hill.

As we climbed with Ntsane taking the lead, we hiked passed olive trees, wild grapes and a lot of fauna and some little natural wonders.

Wild grape tree at Qeme plateau
Wild grape tree at Qeme plateau
One of the wild fruit trees at Qeme plateau.
One of the wild fruit trees at Qeme plateau.
Snail shell with eggs we passed on our way up the hill.
Snail shell with eggs we passed on our way up the hill.

Not very far from the Lefika la Baroa, on our right a few meters below we could see Lefika la Kakana. On the left about 300 meters we could see Thabana Masoba and up the hill, just at the edges of Qeme plateau we saw Thabana Lithlolo. This is Qeme plateau! Tourism treasurer at the door step of Maseru city dwellers, Lindy from Swaziland knows it all before many residents at the bottom of Qeme plateau and the entire Maseru city could.

At lefika la Kakana (A rock for smoking dagga), in the olden days, we are told that men of Ha Teko would climb the rock to smoke dagga at the top. The rock has a small hole like smoking pipe that the men used to place dagga on the other end and smoke from the other end. It is not clear whether the hole was bored by the village men or is natural.

Ntsane climbing up Lefika la Kakana.
Ntsane climbing up Lefika la Kakana.

While the men would climb up the rock and smoke dagga at the top, climbing this rock was difficult to me as it was to Lindy. However, for Mr. Ntsane it was so easy that he could not even put off his shoes.

We didn’t make it to Thabana Masoba (a rock with holes), but we could see it from our away up and down the Qeme plateau. According to Ntsane, the rock has some holes like windows which could be seen from where we were. At the back of the rock there is an entrance. The holes that we see from outside, are actually windows which one can peep through from inside the rock and see Ha Teko and other places far.

Thabana Masoba (A rock with holes)
Thabana Masoba (A rock with holes)

Thabana Lithlolo (a rock where hares stay), was easily accessible as it is almost at the top of Qeme plateau. Here there is a small cave, but big enough for herd boys to take refugee in times bad weather or rains. At the end of the cave, there is a hole which, according to Ntsane, is the door into the lake under Qeme plateau. The lake rock has some reeds, white doves, colour full bird spices and white hares. To get into the lake one has to crawl for about three metres, climb three steps up, then stand up and walk around the lake. I am not yet sure whether I want to take a chance in that regard, but I have made a deal with Ntsane that one day he will get in with cameras and take some few snaps.

Ntsane crawling into Thabana Litlholo demonstrating how to get into the lake under Qeme plateau.
Ntsane crawling into Thabana Litlholo demonstrating how to get into the lake under Qeme plateau.

At the top of Qeme plateau, there is a rock formation with shapes like the World Cup, and Egyptian Sphinx.

The World Cup!
The World Cup!
A rock that has sphix looks.
A rock that has sphinx looks.

We could not go deep into the plateau base, as there were two initiation camps going on. Had we gone to the other end of the plateau we could have seen a small portion of the lake under Qeme plateau.

Join me next time! The article is sponsored by Likatola Horseriding and Adventure,

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At Likatola Horse Riding and Adventure we serve very delicious ranchers meals that feature Lesotho trout fish. Come have a horse back ride this festive season. We also do fishing at Phuthiatsana river.
At Likatola Horse Riding and Adventure we serve very delicious ranchers meals that feature Lesotho trout fish. Come have a horse back ride this festive season. We also do fishing at Phuthiatsana river. Call us at : +266 63 988 905 or email us at: likatolahorseriding@yahoo.com

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