ABOUT MOTEBONG LODGE

Formerly known as Motebong Village, Motebong Lodge is now a family business operated by a family that enjoys the serenity and beauty of the Lesotho highlands and we are proud to make it possible for our guests to enjoy the Katse dam area.

Located on the up-stream end of Katse Dam, Motebong Lodge is ideally located for a day trip to the Katse dam wall and Botanical gardens at Bokong as day excursions, while giving access to a number of fishing, boating, horse riding and hiking spots around the lodge.

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Motebong lodge is also a destination well suited for high altitude training, company breakaways, film shoots and for the bird watchers on the look-out for the rare and at times extinction threatened mountain species such as the bearded vulture – the lammergeyer.

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While offering self-catering units, with our bar and restaurant offering delicious meals and a good range of drinks including our famous fish dish and the Motebong bomb cocktail, we are also an ideal destination for bikers who do not carry supplies.

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The Motebong lodge photographer has been a guide to many on the best landscape photography sites in the area – a pleasure for photographers. He has also successfully assisted Giant films as location scout on a film shoot for their February 2016 Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) advert shoot around Katse Dam.

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Ian Gabriel, Giant Films director with Motebong Lodge owner Mpontso

We are also proud hosts of many company break-away and team building sessions.

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Trollope mining on their annual mountain bike run

Trollope mining on their annual mountain bike run

One of the key values of Motebong lodge owners is developing local skills and creation of employment in the Malibamatso Valley that forms Katse Dam. Motebong is thus committed to recruiting and training staff from Ha Lejone and surrounding villages.  To this end, we also endeavor to create a warm working environment which we hope our guests also experience the warmth through the treatment they receive from our staff.

Staff getting the braai ready for a staff party after a hectic season.

Staff getting the braai ready for a staff party after a hectic season.

HISTORY OF THE CAMP

The Ha Lejone camp was constructed in 1990, ahead of the start of the transfer tunnel construction in 1991. The camp was necessary because, with a population of fewer than10,000 people, Ha Lejone simply had no capacity to house the hundreds of staff from the construction companies and their families. With the comfort of staff in mind, the camp accommodation is designed for maximum energy efficiency, given the harsh winter conditions. The houses are mostly north facing and are insulated to maximize passive heating. In addition, all family units are equipped with anthracite heaters to protect them against the harsh winters of the Lesotho Highlands.

The camp was self-sufficient with a tuck-shop for essential supplies, a clinic with access to doctors and supported by a trauma unit in Hlotse, a pre-school and a primary school on-site. Self-sufficiency in the camp was necessary as there was only one general dealer and a few smaller stores (all with a limited range of products) for Ha Lejone and surrounding villages. Even after Mafika Lisiu pass was completed, Ha Lejone remained largely un-serviced and the terrain made regular trips to the lowlands un-attractive.

Because of the lack of proper roads in the highlands prior to the LHWP, travel was mainly by horse or by aircraft – serviced by Basutair from 1961 that was owned Richard Southworth and was subsequently bought by the Government for M100,000 in 1969 and named Lesotho Airways. Tales told by pilots of the flying the mountain shuttles are legendary and often hilarious! Hand luggage often consisted of items such as live chickens, pumpkins etc. and these did not rank as either funny or unusual! In those days, it was the norm for people living in these remote areas to have been on an aircraft before they had been in a motor vehicle.

Travel into the highlands changed dramatically with the completion of the tarred road in 1990, and so did human practices. The new road featuring the Mafika Lisiu pass at 3090m allowed the transport of aggregates, concrete and other much needed construction materials and equipment for the dam project. It was only with the completion of this road that the residents of Ha Lejone and other villages saw sedans and mini-bus vehicles in their areas. An unintended consequences of the new roads was the demise of the established general dealer businesses run by traders with access to extreme 4×4 trucks to transport their supplies – older folk still have fond memories of the old Mercedes 1517 4×4 truck and the Haflinger 4×4 coming over the formidable Ha Koasa pass, taking half-a-day to cover 40km. People now travelled to experience the novelty of town shopping in the low lands. Equally, with greatly reduced passenger loads, Lesotho Airways gradually reduced the highlands route until these routes were abandoned. By October 1996 the airline suspended all operations, leading to the company winding down in 1997.

The first residents of the camp arrived early in 1991, ahead of the start of the tunnel construction on 1st February 1991 (same time as the start of construction of Katse dam). The staff of Mott MacDonald consultants of the United Kingdom were housed in a section currently occupied by Katse Fish Farm, with the staff of The Lesotho Highlands Project Contractors (LHPC) occupying the rest of the camp.

LHPC was responsible for the 45 km water transfer south tunnel to Muella (which roughly goes below the camp) & 15 km delivery tunnel south. LHPC comprised of Spie Batignolle (France), Balfour Beatty (UK) LTA (South Africa) Campenon Bernard (France and Ed Zublin(Germany) and Electrical and Mechanical subcontracted to the LHPC were: Neyrpic of France and SDEM of South Africa; Deutsche Babcock of RSA for steel liners for the under river-crossing; Krohne Altometer of the Netherlands for the Flow metres.

Upon completion of the tunnel in 1997, the camp lay unused until it 2007, when it was occupied by staff of Lesotho Diamond corporation (LDC) which was mining the Kao Diamond Mine. Lesotho Diamond Corporation ceased to exist during 2008. The collapse of the LDC operation allowed for the start of negotiations in December 2008 between Motebong Tourism Investment Holdings (MTIH) and Government of Lesotho (GOL), for MTIH to takeover and operate the camp as a tourist facility.

Agreement was reached between GOL and MTIH in late December 2009, allowing for the rehabilitation and conversion of the near derelict camp to a comfortable guest facility by MTIH. The idea is to add the comforts without losing the basic construction camp character and the historical feel.