Stories

 

Lesotho


From the 27th of August to the 2nd of September, 2016



Approaching Lesotho, we could see the mountain rising out of the lowland of South Africa. It is fascinating to see such a change from one side of a bridge to another. Within just a few meters, we made it to an Africa we left somewhere between Malawi and Zambia. An Africa where people have their crops growing around their nice little round stone houses with reed roofs. No more endless fields of big scale farming enterprises. People are moving by horse. Donkey are carrying heavy loads. The winding road climbing all the way to a snowy mountain pass offers amazing views over the Orange River. Adults and kids smiled, waved and greeted us as we drove by. No more villages where people are just getting drunk on the side of the road. Locals are busy working their land, doing their laundry or transporting things. There are very few cars and only a few mini-vans for local transport. In September, we are reaching the end of winter, people are still wearing blankets and woolen hats while riding their horse. We were lucky to be here during the cherry blooming season dotting the landscapes with its beautiful pink accents.

    

In Semonkong, we immersed ourselves into the Basotho lifestyle while horse riding through the typical landscape of Lesotho. We rode through little villages which are only accessible by foot, donkey or pony. Eventually, we reached the highlight of our day, the beautiful 204 meters high Maletsunyane Falls dropping down a deep gorge. I felt totally disconnected from time, as if we made it into a western movie. In order to discover the most remote places of Lesotho, it is possible to travel by horse from one valley to the next soaking up the spectacular landscapes. Unfortunately, because of my South African visa running low on days, my time was too limited for this kind of excursion. Who knows, I might come back one day...

    

In Leribe, we visited a weaving workshop producing all king of weaved or knitted handicraft. The profit of the sales goes to ladies of different remote areas and communities throughout the country. Their specialty is the woolen tapestry showing their rural lifestyle and traditions.

We continued our way to the next valley, climbing up to 3100 meter pass to reach Bokong National Reserve. The view from up there was beautiful, but the place was being upgraded and seemed momentarily closed.

It was hard work for Hyundi to climb those mountain passes. For some reasons, he was acting very sluggish and sometimes experiencing complete loss of power. We had to stop and let it rest before to be able to proceed with a very slow ascent, while being overtaken by old overloaded vehicles. We later figured out that an injector was dead, meaning we were climbing on 3 cylinders. But that's not it. While removing some dried mud sticking under the van, the rotten coolant pipe gave up and suddenly the liquid started flowing out of a finger thick hole. After a few hours "playing" around with whatever material we had at hand, it resulted in another successful McGiver fix! Despite those misadventures, Hyundi made it through a series of over 3000 meters high snowy mountain passes leading us through beautiful landscapes. I was even surprised to discover a ski resort in Africa! Well, the snow had already melted and the single slop was being kept with artificial snow, but still!

    

Reaching the Sani Pass, the perfect tarred road we drove on throughout the country suddenly ended as we entered South Africa. We spent the night in the village, in the middle of the local huts, surrounded by goats, sheeps, horses and dogs. On top of the escarpment, the view from the Sani pass Lodge was stunning. The dirt track zig-zaged its way down the rocky and steep escarpment leading to a beautiful green valley forming waves as if the mountain had melted down to the river. The drive down is not particularly challenging provided you vehicle has low gear and reliable breaks. For sure driving up could be hard on the engine, but locals do it on overloaded 4x4 mini-vans.

  

It was refreshing to drive through beautiful Lesotho. Not only it is a safe country with friendly people, but they have really beautiful landscapes which are perfect for hiking, horse riding, skiing and even abseiling.

Album "Lesotho - August-September 2016"

Video : "Lesotho"