Published: December 23rd 2008December 23rd 2008
The village where we stayed for the night while we were pony trekking
Leaving Amakhala was difficult, not least because we had to work out how to get everything back into the Land Rover. This task was made more difficult by a serious hangover induced by our final night party. I won’t go into details but Chris fans should definitely get him checked for itches and scratches after he was taken in hand by an older lady. I think the scratches might have been sustained when he ran off through the thicket to escape the said lady. I’m not sure what the opposite of a MILF is, but if it’s in the dictionary then there is a picture of this lady next to it.
So on to Lesotho it feels good to be back on the road again after so long, We left Sunday at around 11.30 and got to a stopover in Lady Grey at around 7pm. Lady Grey is a small dorp (village) set against the backdrop of the Witteberg mountains, we camped at small hostel called Baggers and Packers (well basically we setup in the garden). John the owner is a old colonial from East Africa and was a school teacher in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) made for very interesting
conversation, particularly as he is a botanist and knows all the local plants and flowers. When he started talking about hornworts we were so glad that we knew what he was going on about!
From Lady Grey it’s about 100km’s to the Lesotho border, so we stocked up turned on the fridge and made the border by around 10am. Our first boarder crossing went very smoothly, there is a huge contrast between the border posts of SA and Lesotho clearly demonstrating the difference in attitude and GDP. Lesotho is poor, in fact it’s very poor. The people are mostly subsistence farmers who farm and herd sheep, goats and cattle in the mountainous terrain. More recently significant investment has gone into building a series of dams to supply water poor but Rand rich Joburg, hopefully this will bring some funds. In terms of tourism it’s very underdeveloped which is surprising as the country is beautiful. We stayed at a community tourism project called Malealea Lodge, the lodge is run alongside the village of Malealea who supply the food, labour and guides. The lodge has set up development projects and helped to build schools and business premises, the people are genuinely
friendly and are happy to show you round their houses and schools.
While at Malealea we took a 2 day horse trek up into the mountains, this is the best way to see the country as you can’t access much of it as there are no roads. The trek was about 6-7 hours each day and involved crossing a large river and many steep up and downhill sections. My horse was slow and kept stopping but was generally well behaved whereas Sandra, as usual, could not control her beast which continually stopped to eat grass and would not go the right way. It also seemed to have a taste for alcohol as it continually wanted to stop at the villages that were selling beer. Apparently the solution is to cut a stick and show it to your horse however this didn’t make a blind bit of difference the only thing that convinced the horses to move was our guide Moleif. As you travel through the villages all the kids run out to greet you and there are a number of flags basically indicating what each family has for sale at different times. Red flag means meat, blue flag mean
cabbage, white is sorghum beer and yellow is maize beer. We stopped to fill up with water from the mountain springs and eventually reached a small village at the top of the valley where we spent the night in a village hut, only after they had kicked out the chickens!
While at Malealea we discovered that we had illegally imported animals from South Africa. While eating breakfast one morning we heard a squeaking noise which was coming from underneath the Landy. After a thorough search we discovered a baby mouse wedged into a gap by the fuel tank! By the next day 4 in total had made their escape onto Lesotho soil. An adult mouse had obviously made it’s nest in the car, to give birth, while we’d been parked at Amakhala.
The drive from Malealea to the border is only about 250km but took us around 5 hours because of the poor roads, Maseru was an interesting experience, the first real African city we have had to drive through, basically it was mayhem no signs anywhere, chickens, goats and cows wandering along the roadside grazing. The centre of two was busy with the market spilling out into
the street. The roundabout in the centre of town was clearly the only one in the country as no one knew how to use it properly and it was just a free for all, luckly we have a Land Rover and it looks a bit like a tank. Most drivers in Maseru seem to be ex-BMW owners as they don’t believe in indicators. After surviving to reach the border the crossing was remarkably easy in fact so easy we forgot to get stamped back into South Africa as they just waved us through, we had to come back and ask the police to let us back into the border the wrong way to get stamped back in. Luckily it’s Africa and the police were more interested in what football team I supported and how I thought ‘bafana bafana’ would do in the world cup than anything else. So back in South Africa and on to Durban and the East coast. Merry Xmas and we’ll think of you all while we are on the beach.
There are more photos below