LESOTHO offers a relatively small and unexplored market in the unique form of tourism that seeks to strike a balance between travel and agriculture.
Feb. 21, 2023
3 min read
Monakeli Farm, a guesthouse with a difference
Monakeli Guest House in Mahobong, Leribe
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Also known as agrotourism, this type of tourism involves people traveling to and visiting farms or other agriculturally based operations for educational or recreational purposes.
While agrotourism is relatively small and essentially unfamiliar in Lesotho, it is a fascinating sector that offers a brilliant experience for travellers seeking to venture into Lesotho’s farming experience.
An establishment that exploits this blend of sustainable agriculture and tourism is the Monakeli Farm located in Mahobong, Leribe.
The guesthouse and its farm lie on a rocky hill right at the heart of Mahobong, along the Nelson Mandela Road.
As you enter the farm, you are welcomed by fast-paced rabbits darting around the enclosure, at ease and peaceful in their element.
Further down the closed compound, one beholds a splendid-looking pond in which a raft of Pekin ducks is leisurely swimming with their ducklings.
The most salient component of this compound is the guest bedrooms. They are small egg-shaped huts with neat thatch roofing. Each of the six bedrooms has a tiny door leading into the interior of the house.
Once inside, one finds nothing in the room, but a lone wooden chair in the corner.
The owner of the unique resort, Thabiso Matšoele says the rooms were deliberately designed bare like that to give guests the experience of living and sleeping in a traditional Basotho cattle post (Motebong).
‘Our establishment is nicknamed Motebong - here, guests sleep in these specially-built rooms, otherwise, we encourage them to pitch tents in the compound and spend the night out under the open sky. We offer a special experience that is completely different from the mainstream hotels or inns,” he says.
On close inspection, one realises that the bedrooms are designed to resemble a motebo hut.
Customarily, in summer, herd boys in rural Lesotho take their livestock to graze up in the mountains where the grass is greener and more scrumptious.
In the mountains, the herd boys live in small ramshackle huts made of straw.
It is not exactly a comfortable experience as space is limited and sometimes the weather conditions are way too harsh.
Monakeli Farm offers a slightly similar experience. The main difference here is that the guests sleep in a compound with live rabbits scuttling about and Pekin ducks and colourful roses dotting the naturally beautiful layout.
Matšoele says the establishment was designed to operate this way so that it could become a learning curve for people who have never experienced the exacting lifestyle of tending livestock up in the cold mountains.
“Most of our guests have never been to a cattle post before, hence, our farm has brought that motebong life closer to the people to where everyone has access,” he says.
Further, into the farm, there is a bar that sells bottled beer and cider drinks.
The kitchen serves food that also has striking features. On their menu, they serve rabbit, Pekin duck, and goose meat.
Rabbit meat is a treat at the farm
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Vegetarians are also well-catered for, as a wide variety of vegetables and fruits are on offer.
According to Matšoele, this is where Monakeli Farm’s exclusivity lies.
“We have taken the ordinary and turned it into the extraordinary,” he confidently says, adding that the meat served comes from the animals kept on the farm.
As a treat to its patrons and food lovers, Monakeli Farm hosts annual meat-tasting festivals where revelers come to enjoy a variety of meat offered on the farm.
Monakeli Farm offers an eye-catching and relaxing environment where travellers who want to escape the fast and noisy city life can come to relax.
What is even more fascinating about the place is its picturesque location.
The farm is located on a flat rocky formation overlooking the Hlotse River.
The singing birds and the water splashing down the river create an amazing ambiance that is synonymous with the place.