In his autobiography Long Walk to Freedom, President Nelson Mandela expresses his feelings for the Free State as follows: ``The Free State landscape gladdens my heart, no matter what my mood. When I am here I feel that nothing can shut me in, that my thoughts can roam as far as the horizons. "
It is here that the Basotho Cultural Village nestles in the heart of the Qwaqwa Nature Park
which recently has been incorporated into the world-renowned Golden Gate Highlands National Park
The Cultural Village takes you for a walk down the pathway of time. It is here where the lifestyle and architecture of the South Sotho is accurately depicted from the sixteenth century to the dramatically colourful present.
Follow the guide's footsteps into the "khotla", the gathering place of men. Accept the Basotho hospitality by taking a sip from the traditional beer offered. Listen to the rangoon and lesiba and engage in a game of marabaraba.
Consult the ngaka, the captain's advisor, in his professional capacity as traditional healer and allow him to enlighten you as he has been doing for centuries.
Step into the home of either the first, second or third wife and move to the rhythm of the women grinding the maize and sifting beer.
Pass the tokened where grandmothers used to gather the young girls around them to initiate them in folklore by ways of riddles, fables and marvelous tales.
The huts are built and furnished according to the time frame depicted by each one. The interior and exterior decoration of huts is done by the Basotho women. It is called litem' and can still be admired on a drive through the Free State rural areas. The colours are extremely vibrant and dramatic.
The art gallery boasts work of local artists and a permanent photographic exhibition of the building process of the village and litem' art in the Eastern Free State. The curio shop offers a wide variety of Basotho arts and crafts.
There is nothing like a warm traditional Basotho meal in our sandstone amphitheatre and the entertaining sounds of the accordion and drum to complete an unforgettable experience.
The heart of the visitor is won over by the majesty of the surrounding landscape and by the spiritual ethos of the beautiful Basotho people dancing, singing and rejoicing in sheer well-being and to their heart's content.
Matlakeng Herbal trail
One of the innovations at the Basotho Cultural Village is a walking trail that takes the visitor along a typical sour grass veld habitat below some impressive sandstone cliffs, running through age-old woodland and clear unpolluted mountain streams.
A social ecologist and a ngaka (healer) escort the groups on this fascinating trail and their speciality is locating an array of grasses, roots, herbs, leaves and bark in the veld and then explaining how these are prepared to cure ailments ranging from toothache to sexually transmitted diseases, or again their ritual use.
The Basotho Cultural Village lies next to the R712 from Harrismith in the eastern side of the Golden Gate Highlands National Park
or from Clarens travelling through Golden Gate.