Published: January 6th 2011January 1st 2011
Drakensberg into Lesotho
Friday 31st December 2010
Today we left the beautiful surroundings of Drakensberg to travel over the dramatic Sani Pass into Lesotho. After a slow start we walked 3km's up the road to some ruins where the 4x4 mini taxis apparently wait to pick people up. It was in the middle of nowhere and difficult to imagine that this was a bus stop. We had made a weak attempt to hitch hike on our walk up, but at this point we had decided that it would be rude to try and hitch hike while we waited at the bus stop with the local Basotho people (Lesotho people). The 4x4 mini taxi van arrived at about 11:30, so we were pretty happy, thinking we were going to get to our destination Mokhotlong at a reasonable hour. It was 3.5 hrs later when the van was finally full that we headed off.
The view from the road was spectacular even though it was obscured by some rainy and misty weather. The road, well it was a little dodgy in places you could say. The South African government won't let you drive a 2 wheel drive on their side
of the border. It was incredibly rocky, edges breaking away, muddy, rivers and waterfalls running over the road. Along with this the road winded slowly up to an altitude of 2865m. I was the only woman squashed into our little van with all the local men.
At the border we bought some delicious bread and some sort of sausage. I love trying local food while on buses. Always so cheap and get to do as the locals do. We were at the top of the pass and as we entered Lesotho we found local shepherds herding their sheep dressed in the traditional Basotho blankets. At one point on the pass we had to stop for the driver to perform some mechanical miracle to stop a scrapping sound the van was making, allowing us to continue on. As we travelled further into Lesotho we found small villages with traditional rondavels (houses), wool sheds and more shepherds herding their sheep on the road. We also saw lots of men riding on the traditional Lesotho ponies, often bareback. The scenery was stunning. We also saw snow on the slopes... bazaar, it's summer. Unfortunately during this we had lots of difficulties taking photos
as the van was bouncing around so much.
Eventually we arrived in Mokhotlong at about 6pm to discover that the last local mini taxis that we were hoping to use to take us to our accommodation about 14kms out of town had stopped operating. We asked local taxis, but they were going to cost 200R ($30) which we decided was too much. We had decided that we were going to stay in town when one of the guys we had asked about a taxi told us he had found someone who was going out that way and would be happy to drop us off for 15R each ($2.20) as long as we didn't mind riding in the back of a ute. So we decided to give it a go. It was loads of fun sitting in the back of the ute as we travelled through town and then on the the dodgy roads again winding towards our stop for the night. Unfortunately our driver drove incredibly slowly. I guess it meant we arrived safely, but it took so god damn long.... It felt like we had driven 30 or 40 kms rather than the 14 or so.
arrived after 8pm and with that we had no way of buying any alcohol to help celebrate the New Year. We also discovered that the double room we had booked, was not available and we had to share a dorm with a lovely older American women.. Again, bye bye to a nice romantic evening.... oh well. There was also no electricity so I cooked us spaghetti on the gas stove, in candlelight, not particularly exciting, but filled us up. I also discovered that I had stupidly brought the wrong battery charger with me for my camera... stupid, stupid, stupid. I was feeling a little overwhelmed with the day at this point. We ended up in bed and asleep by about 10:45, woken briefly by some fireworks for a New Years kiss at midnight.. It was one of those up and down days..
There are more photos below