Published: June 23rd 2006April 28th 2006
At 192m tall this is one of Africas highest. We were viewing it after lots of rain so it was in full swing!
There was no "Africa time" involved at all and Ashley, the owner of the Roma Trading Post was ready and waiting at precisely 6am! Seeing as though the temperature was still well below zero, there was no chance of us having yet another cold shower. It was a pleasant and very comfortable drive in which Ashley gave us an in depth history of the area and how his family came to be involved trading there over a hundred years ago. He was even kind enough to stop at another of his lodges, Ramabanta, for a coffee and pee break. Ramabanta was a series of original stone built huts, run by an elderly lady known to everyone simply as Mama. The setting was spectacular and also the gateway to lots of mountain hiking. We were quite tempted to thank Ashley for the ride and stay for a night or two, however we really wanted to visit Semonkong so we kept going. The landscape changed several times during the journey and we found ourselves making references to what we thought Mongolia would be like and also to Peru and Nthn Scotland. We passed many herdsman wrapped in their traditional blankets moving their herds
These were all over the place, and apparently bloomed into amazingly bright flowers.
from summer grazing spots high in the mountains to lower altitudes more suitable for the fast approaching winter. After Ashley dropped supplies at yet another of his lodges he drove us to the Semonkong lodge. We were totally un aware that it was a long weekend and arrived to find that not only was the main campsite full, that there was only one dorm bed available. The owner told us that if we really wanted to camp we could camp on top of the hill behind the lodge but the ablution block was quite far and we'd be fully exposed to whatever mother nature could dish out. We enquired about paying double for the dorm bed and sharing it, but he was not interested. Thankfully his wife turned up and said there may be a possibility of another bed becoming available if we could hang around to find out. If not there was a Catholic mission on the other side of the village where for a small donation we may score a bed for the night. Ashley had already left so we had no choice but to wait. Instead of just hanging around we decided to pack a picnic lunch
Friends and guides
These were the lads who took us to the base, pnuemonia boy is on the right.
and hike to the nearby Maletsunyane Falls, which at 192m tall is one of Africas tallest. Not long after setting off through the mud, we'd picked up a few hitch hikers. Through sign language, broken English and our minimal Sesuthi vocabulary we managed to communicate with our four young female friends and whilst passing through rural dwellings as opposed to villages, decided that we enjoyed the company as much as they did. Our merry gang of wanderers quickly doubled. We now had eight kids in tow, one of whom had a small radio. We decided to blow their minds by transmitting our IPOD through the radio. Once they got over their shock they all just started dancing. It was so unbelievable to see how happy they all were. Along the way we came across many nomadic horsemen dressed in their colourful blankets. The kids all seemed very wary of the horsemen. They were carrying large rifles after all, but the men thought the sight of two whities with eight escorts was comical and left us alone. We finally made it to an awesome viewpoint where we shared our fruit and sat in awe staring at the falls before us. We
An addition to the falls, the landscape and gorges were absolutely amzing.
gave the kids turns with our binoculars and they were mesmerized by how far they could see. The boys jumped at the chance to guide us down the steep, rocky slope to the base of the falls, however the girls, who were all barefoot weren't up for it. We couldn't stay at the base too long as the spray was so intense we were drenched in minutes. One of our guides was so sick with pnuemonia that we actually began to worry for him, but he was having none of it and insisted on continuing. We found a sunny spot to dry out and share our sandwiches whilst giving them some Aussie coins and a few Rand each, explaing that it was not a donation, but a gesture of friends thankful for the company, guiding and Sesuthi language lessons. The rest of the journey was an interchange of new friends and guides all keen to test their English and talk about kangaroos, football and their schools. It was sad to have to say good bye at the lodge, and even more sad to learn that not only was there now no beds at all, we couldn't camp behind the lodge.
Didn't want to get the cameras out closer as the spray was too intense.
It was late in the day so we had to take action and find this Catholic Mission. We set out and eventually found it, but not before we found yet another random Chinese store for supplies and a small taverna for a quick beer and games of pool with some locals who called on more local rules than Cool Hand Luke in order to beat the whities. When we arrived at what we presumed was the mission it was chaos! There were hoards of people milling around everywhere. It turns out that two guys had fallen off the back of a pick up and had been dumped there with suspected spinal injuries. No one knew what to do and there was no transport to take them to the nearest hospital, 120km away. In the very next room a lady was laying on the floor having a baby. What had we walked into? Was it too much to inquire about the possibility of a bed for the night? Apparently not. One of the nurses? missionaries? took us to a separate part of the Mission? Casualty? Maternity Ward? and said that for R50 each we could stay the night. When she opened the door to a small room with three beds and a big old electric heater we were sold and decided we would have happily paid triple to sleep in an actual bed in a warm room! We found some dinner and even bumped into our friend Morgan, but couldn't resist the warm bed any longer! The stars were even more amazing than the previous nights and we gave them a second or two whilst saying a quick prayer for the new mum and accident victims before turning in for another delightful slumber and maybe, just maybe, a sleep in!