The area that is now Boschfontein Farm was originally part of the Batlokoa’s territory and the mountain on which the lodge is built is called Joala Boholo (Place of plentiful beer). The Batlokoa Chieftainess, Mantatisi, had her stronghold on top of this very mountain and welcomed her warriors with plenty of beer after they returned from their raids into neighbouring territories. Her son, Sekonyela, built his stronghold “next door” on the mountain called Marabeng (Place of puff adders) and continued to steal cattle from whoever he could. In fact, it was he who stole the Zulu King Dingaan’s cattle and it was from this area that Piet Retief came to retrieve the cattle in order to gain favour with Dingaan. Sekonyela also continually stole cattle from the Basotho and their King, Moshoeshoe, eventually had enough of the troublesome Batlokoa. In 1853 he ordered his armies to wipe out the entire Batlokoa tribe and took over their territory. (The Batlokoa occupied this territory for two generations).
Moshoeshoe’s subjects took to raiding the white settlers’ horses and cattle which led to the Basotho-Boer wars. In 1866 Moshoeshoe lost the final war….. and the territory, after occupying it for less than fifteen years. In 1867 the “Conquered Territory” was surveyed and divided into farms which were bought by Orange Free State settlers who fought in the wars. Boschfontein Farm has remained in our family since then.
After studying at the University of the Orange Free State and graduating from Writtle College, University of Essex in the United Kingdom, Morgan James Barrett became the sixth generation owner of Boschfontein Farm when he returned to South Africa and the family farm in 2012. He reunited with three old Huis Abraham Fischer friends from university days and the four of them dreamt of having their own Game Farm. Joala Boholo Trust was born and the first game was off-loaded in 2015. The fully certified game camp is in the centre of Boschfontein Farm and operates as an independent Game Farm. With this in mind, the need arose for accommodation for hunters as well as visitors who enjoy the beautiful Eastern Free State scenery.
Morgan started to build the 400 square metre Boschfontein Mountain Lodge in December 2018, three months after marrying Toni-Lee Yeatman. The lodge took 15 months to complete, but what is that compared to the 153 years that the farm has been in the family?
Most of the materials used to build the lodge were sourced on Boschfontein or recycled from demolished buildings in the area. Every stone was fitted and laid by hand. Some stones weigh about 400kg. The wood used for the ceilings is all from Boschfontein and was cut from alien invasive species as is all the firewood used on the farm. The lodge’s water is gravity fed, direct from a natural spring that hasn’t stopped flowing for centuries and is perfectly safe to drink. All the garden plants are indigenous and have low water requirements.
Boschfontein Mountain Lodge opened doors for business in the Summer of 2020 by Morgan Barrett, Gawie Rossouw, Archie Buys and Willem Landman.