During the Maluti District Integrated Development Plan in 1999, tourism was identified as one of the economic sectors to spearhead eradication of poverty in previously disadvantaged communities. Environment and tourism task team was formed. Support from a South African NGO (Environmental Development Agency) and Swiss Agency for Development Co-operation funding facilitated the formation of a steering committee charged with developing a local tourism institution in line with the White Paper Tourism and that lead to the establishment of Local Tourism Organisation in 2000 Ukhahlamba Tourism Association (UTA). Alongside with the Eastern Cape Tourism Board, UTA and EDA Trust embarked on an awareness raining process, explaining and clarifying the tourism concept and mission of UTA, to over 50 local villages in the area. This lead to the formation of the Community Tourism Organisations (CTO’s).
In 2001 two community projects were established i.e. Masakala Guesthouse and Mehloding Adventure Trail with funding from the Department of Environmental and Tourism (DEAT), Alfred Nzo District Municipality and department of Provincial and Local Government (DPLG). Five Structures (four chalets and the guesthouse were built using local architectural ideas and skills). This provided short-term job creation and skills development through building and other labour intensive activities.
Masakala Guesthouse started operating in 2002 and Mehloding Adventure Trail started operating in December 2003.
After a series of workshops Mehloding Community Tourism Trust (MCTT) was formed in 2002 as a legal entity to own and manage Mehloding Adventure Trail and Masakala Guesthouses on behalf of the community. Five community Tourism Organisations were formed in surrounding villages of each chalet and the guesthouse. The Trust is composed of a representative of each of the CTO, the District municipality, traditional leaders, Provincial Tourism Authority and local tourism association.
A business unit is responsible for the day-to-day running of the Masakala guesthouse and trail (booking, marketing, staff development and training). This booking office in Matatiele also serves as a place to display craft from local people house the guide association and a venue for meetings and training.
Volunteer service abroad (VSA) a New Zealand NGO, contributed with the skills of an experienced tourism practitioner to assist the trust and the business unit for two years ass a business manager developing an efficient booking system and she transferred the skills to an operating officer.
To make sure that the buildings are maintained VSA also provided the Trust with another volunteer, Maintenance Advisor who will transfer skills to the caretakers.
Since November 2003 the trust has created employment for 15 permanent employees, two caretakers and one hostess per chalet. Besides this extra part-time work for 25 people is created for cleaner and caretaker in each chalet including the guesthouse when Tourists are coming. The Trail and guesthouse also creates part-time employment for the recently formed Tourist Guides Association who facilitates walking tours along the trial for hikers to view rock art, bird-watching, nature and cultural entertainment.
Whenever there are tourists fresh produce is purchased in the village, this is another method of encouraging people to be self-sufficient and sell the surplus of their products. Extra benefit to the community is a levy that is charged per night per paying tourist that is kept in the bank and every year redistributed to each CTO under the form of equipment or support for a local project (school, crèche, clinic etc.)
Mehloding Nature Trail, Rediscover our Natural and Cultural Heritage – one to four day hiking:
Discover the rich and diverse natural and cultural heritage of a rural area in the little –explored southern Drakensberg, at the border of Eastern Cape Kwa-Zulu and Lesotho. The route traverse through spectacular mountainous foothills and rural villages taking in visits to undocumented rock art, sparkling streams, indigenous trees, birds, medicinal plants, craft projects ancient sites and top of the world views.
Along the trial, four welcoming chalets constructed by the local people with traditional designs and materials offer comfortable accommodation with hot shower, flush toilets bedding and towels delightful traditional and conventional meals stunning views and privacy.
Qualified local guides accompany all groups to provide information on the sights, attractions, local customs, language etc.
Masakala Traditional Guesthouse – A Truly multicultural experience:
Situated in the friendly village of Masakala, close to Matatiele, on the border of the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal, the guesthouse offers you a stunning view of the Southern Drakensberg/Ukhahlamba Mountains forming the border with Lesotho.
Spend a night or two and enjoy Sotho and Xhosa hospitality at its best.
Two rondavels, specially designed and built using the local architectural ideas and skills offer you a choice of single, double and dormitory style sleeping arrangements, traditional yet comfortable our accommodation offers hot shower and bath.
As the sunsets and the evening draws in, enjoy a friendly traditional meal prepared by the local catering group; homegrown vegetables, fresh produce and Africa recipes are on the menu, alongside conventional fare requests.
Other activities in Masakala:
- Guided walking or horse riding tour to our local rock art treasures, bird-watching; or
- Village tours – visits to local projects, shebeens and a sangoma (traditional healer), meet the local crafters or simply rest and enjoy the peace and the surroundings.
Masakala is a proud user of the FTTSA Trademark and Imvelo 2004 responsible tourism award winner for the best practice in economic impact.