Day 8 + 9 Malealea (Lesotho): Village Tour & the Botsoela Waterfall Trail

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Africa » Lesotho » Malealea
November 9th 2014
Published: May 17th 2015
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Yesterday, our stay in the Wild Coast was quite disappointed me. Today we travel northwards to another region that you should not miss; a small country called Lesotho. There, we will visit a very small town; Malealea. According Manda, this place is very great to hang out; here you can meet some traditional Africa. There is no access to electricity and we should be careful with using water. If you want to know if Malealea was disappointing, continue reading!

Of course not! Malealea is not disappointing! Actually, it was also a great highlight of my trip. I wish that every day was so special. At 05:45 we had our breakfast before we went on the road, to the Malealea lodge. For the boarder, we took some lunch. While Lesotho is an own country we had to cross the border and get a visa. We passed the border station of “Van Rooys Gate”. About the visa: That is not a problem, you can get a visa at the border. But first, you have to cross the South-African border. We went out of the truck and Bheki reads forwards. We walked to the border station. That means, you get an
The African HutsThe African HutsThe African Huts

This Huts where for rent at the Malealea Lodge & Pony Trekking; a great place to stay!
stamp that you get out of the country. It’s here forbidden to make pictures, if you do and they snap you, they shall delete all pictures of your devices. They do not care if you made a picture of an very difficult to spot animal, for example an white lion. If cross the South-African border, you have to walk a small way to the border crossing of Lesotho. There, you receive your visa in form of a stamp; and from that moment you are allowed to go in Lesotho, and you are not allowed anymore to go in South-Africa (if you want to return, your first have to go out of Lesotho via a stamp, and receive another stamp from South-Africa before you are able to return). From here, we were able to get in the truck. Of course, you are able to make a stop by the toilets; but always choose the side of South-Africa. They have the best toilets (and sometimes the only toilets at the border). There are different points where you can cross the border to Lesotho. The roads are better in South-Africa, so the best thing that you can do is to travel mostly in South-Africa and go at the last moment you can into Lesotho. Also in South-Africa you can see the changes of the landscape. We left the more jungle/ancient forest side behind us, we left the coast and now we’re heading to a more rough and sand landscape. Especially in Lesotho you are able to see this change. The sands is more yellow and red from colour; it looks here quite dry and from here, you can see already the mountains coming up. The forest that we met at the coast are gone. Lesotho is complete enclosed by the South-Africa indoor land, so it does not have any beaches. The country is poor, and you see a lot of poor people here. A short lesion in history: The San people lived in this area for quite a lot of time. They were exterminated all by the British invaders around 1873, due the brutal murders and campaigns. But, the San left some great archaeological findings behind. You are able to do some trails where you can visit some old bush paintings of them. Also, the Bashoto Tribe lived in this area. They did not only went up in the mountains, they also did some farming on the fields. Thanks to one man Moshoeshoe I, born in 1786, the country exist. He made some great efforts to create a land of his own and for his people. The land that became in the end Lesotho. He became the first chief in 1820. He started his own Butha-Buthe Tribe in 1824. At that time, he and his followers were not saved, so he travelled up more at the mountains and found one region what is now known as Thaba Bosiu. He and his tribe were under several attacks, but they still managed to survive and keep this place at their own. The attacks came from the European people, which did manage to attack and destroy Morija. In that time, the area was still known as the “Orange Free State”. In 1866 the Seqiti War, leaded by the British destructed quite a lot of the Basotho crops and livings and the people which followed Moshoeshoe got in troubles, but managed to survive. The war ended a year later. The British people had their own land, while in mean time Moshoeshoe was still able to keep his place up standing. Moshoeshoe died in 1870. It led that
The Village TourThe Village TourThe Village Tour

Here, we got in touch how the local people are living.
a lot of the land felt into British hands and the Cape government. But still, the local people kept their way of living and their land. In 1960 Moshoeshoe II became chief and Lesotho became independent of South-Africa.

When we came across the border, I think we still had some 1,5 to 2 hours driving to arrive in Malealea. The roads are not that great; which means you receive an traditional “African Massage”, especially at the last roads. But, directly when you come over the border, you are in traditional Africa. You notice it on the road, the people you cross and the way of living. They do look complete different than the kids and people in South Africa. Mostly on their clothing. You really can see that most of them wear old clothing, sometimes a little bit dirty of the sand. The roads are from sand, that became hard by the many cars that drove over this roads. If people own a car, the car is quite old. Probably over 20 or 30 years. Some rich people are able to have a tractor; but that is not-surprising very old as well and does not come close
Who want's a beer?Who want's a beer?Who want's a beer?

It's hopbeer, which you are able to try in the local, small pub.
by the sizes you have now in Europe. The houses are made from different materials; sand, mud, iron, plastic; everything where they can build a house from. You see a lot of woman’s working, where the men are sitting outside. Sometimes they try to sell things for a living, something to hang out. The kids are playing around. They like to wave at us, they run at the bus to wave and found it quite great that some “white”, rich people are coming to visit them. When we reached out of town, we where only in the rough, colourful wilderness. Expect here a more dryer landscape with quite much fields, sands and everywhere you can see in the far the mountains are rising up. We pass up hills, and from here, we crossed the best view of Lesotho. This place is also called the “Gate of Paradise”. Above at the mountain, we made some photo stop, to enjoy the great fields from up. Too bad it’s so hard to get it on the picture, but we could enjoy the fields, different from yellow to grass green. In the far, the rough mountains were coming up. We saw some small grass,
The KidsThe KidsThe Kids

Are they not cute?
dry parts and a great view. And then, the African massage really can start. We could not drive here quite hard and we had to pass the background route to join the camping. Here we were able to do an upgrade. They had traditional African houses; these houses were on our campsite. Of course, I would like to sleep in one! Yvonne agreed, and for almost no money we had a great upgrade. Do not expect to have electricity over here as well. But the houses were so cute! Also on the camping it goes like the African way: the owner is much off his place and you have to wait before he returns. Of course in an African tempo. Hectic as we Duchies, running around to clients and being afraid to let them wait; they do not know it here. It really is like “Hakuna Matatta”. Also, on the local people were met. Also according their rough lives, they try to make the best of it, there smiling and they are happy. Live goes their way and they are not running around with stress as we have.

We had some time to discover a little bit
The kidsThe kidsThe kids

Can I take one to home? They are so cute!
of Lesotho. We had some great sighs on the rough mountains and in the mean time, some local people are passing with horses and monkey’s. Much people have to do many things to survive and they also do suffer sometimes from lack of proper food. Also a lot of people suffering from HIV/AIDS. Around 1 at the 4 people in Lesotho suffer from HIV/AIDS and in some districts it’s 1 at 2. This leads that a lot of children, sometimes at very young age, lose both of their parents at this horrible disease, and in worse cases they are infected as well. While much people have difficulties to become on proper feeding, they need animals to do the hard work. Those people love their animals, but they do not have money to heal it when the animals became sick. For example, we saw some horse that had problems with its feet. The horse is not able to work, but the owner does not have money to give surgery or heal the horse. Also a lot of animals are not food properly. Also, some people treat the animals quite rough. They have some sticks to beat the donkey or the horse,
This woman received a shirtThis woman received a shirtThis woman received a shirt

This woman lost everything she got; her husband and her house. She is able to sleep at night in a small chamber; but Christa donated here an old shirt. It's was heartbreaking to see that this woman was so happy and almost in shock that she received one shirt.
so the animal shall continue the work. For our eyes this is wrong, but I think the people do not have other ways to survive without the animal and buying a new one is too expensive for them. That was something we saw directly when we enjoyed the sights and came first in touch with the local people. But, from this sights, you have a great sundown which you can enjoy. In the mean time, Manda made some diner as well. We started with mushroom soup (too bad it was too salty) and afterwards Manda made some great Spaghetti Bolognese.

The next morning, we were able to book some excursions. We stayed at the Malealea Lodge & Pony trekking. Here, they have a plenty of excursions. You can do multiple day trails per horse, or at feet. If you go by feet, you also can rent a horse to carry your stuff. Or take the mountain bike. They also have one single day hike, where you visit the San paintings and two waterfalls. Or, you can also do a single day excursion with horse, or a 4 hour excursion per horse. The horses, were pony’s and they
The kids in schoolThe kids in schoolThe kids in school

They are singing and dancing for us.
were cared good enough. But, what was even more exited; they had a local village tour. The tour were given by local people. They receive some money for touring, and because most of them are young from age, they might spend the money on the fact they are able to study. We split up in different groups. Luckily, there were here enough good guides, and almost everything was possible.

At 9.00 I left with two guides and some other people for the Village Tour. As guides we had Thomas and Regina. The tour will take 2 hours. In the end, you are able to buy some handmade craft. The money will go to orphans; some woman of the town are raising the orphans in a special shelter. Of coure, the tour includes that you visit some stores. But to be honest that was not disturbing. If you saw the situations of this kids and the people you really want to buy something to support the local community over here. We started with our tour and walked first a little bit to the “business centre” of the town. These are small supermarkets, where you can buy food if
These mothers are making some souveniersThese mothers are making some souveniersThese mothers are making some souveniers

With the money they collect, they are able to shelter the many orphans. Many kids become orphans, due the fact that both parents die at HIV/AIDS; and some children are infected as well.
you want. From here, we walked to the town. The houses are made out of stones. The stones does have the same colour as the sand; mostly yellow-orange. Some houses does have a roof; that made life a little bit easier. Winter in Lesotho can be hard and it’s possible it’s snowing. That’s because they are living here on a quite high. I think we were here so 3000 meters above sea level. In night it can be freezing. And in summer it can get very hot here. We walked to the town and stopped by the local water put. Here, there was ability to get free, good water, which was pumping out of the ground. A lot of kids were playing here, the mothers were working close by the houses. They were washing their clothes and cooking. We almost did not saw any men. The men will go with their animals on the land, sometimes very far out of town. Even the boys will join them. The animals, for example sheep’s, will graze the land and they are able to give milk to drink. The really small kids are playing outside. The children should be able to go to school, or to describe it better that the kids are obligated to go, from a age of 8. However, when the parents have money, they might joining school quite earlier. But many parents do not have that money. They also do not have the money to let their children go for study. That means, that even with a basic school education, the older kids (teenagers) are not able to get out of the situation they are coming from. They did had education, but not the study and following education to get a reasonable job, for example engineer, or to become a nurse in the hospital. That means that the children, coming from school, are going to work on the fields and years later they marry, and get kids and the circle start again. Also, when the kids had their day of school, some do not have another choice to get some other animals and take them out to the fields. They start to learn how to become a farmer quite early. In fact, they all know that the situation, even with their basic education shall not change due the lack of money. They know that in the end they become
The Botsoela Waterfall TrailThe Botsoela Waterfall TrailThe Botsoela Waterfall Trail

Emanuel shows us the way to go.
a farmer as well, just like their parents. If the parents die quite early, they have to know how to survive and might be able to take care of their younger brothers of sisters. As in every town, they had a pub. The local people are making here their own beer: of corn and hop. Today, the hop beer was for sale. The pub was a very small house, where the beer was kept in a plastic barrel. They put the hop or the corn in the barrel, add some sugar and close it properly so that no oxygen can come inside: then you get alcohol fermentation when you do not have any oxygen inside. I tried the beer. Of course, I like to try every local beer from every country. But this time, I had enough at one sip. The beer looked quite milky and not clear. Or to describe it better: it did not look at beer at all. I wanted to try it, but I was afraid when I drank the complete glass I would end up sick. One sip was enough. The beer tasted quite strange. More to hop, like water, but only in the end
The Botsoela Waterfall TrailThe Botsoela Waterfall TrailThe Botsoela Waterfall Trail

You have to cross the river, the stones might be slippery so do not be afraid to get a little bit wet.
you had the aftertaste of hot, longstanding beer with almost no alcohol. The beer was not cooled, they do not have cooling devices here. Only me and Ton tried to taste it. From here, we went further with the walk, where we met some kids. They like to play with us, and they tried to hug us. They are so quite. From here, we were able to visit a local school. They were singing for us and we got some explanation how they give the lesions to the kids. The kids were all uniforms. They liked to dance and sing for us. That was so great to see. Also, we visited one of the orphans shelves, where we could buy some souvenirs if we wanted too. When the children are at school, the mothers who are giving the shelter to the kids, are making the souvenirs that we just bought. We visited them at the end of the tour. Just before the orphan shelter, we met an woman. She was sitting before the house of the chief. This woman was old and her man died. She had bad luck, because she lost her house as well. If I’m right, it
The local farmersThe local farmersThe local farmers

The local man are going with their animals at the fields. The animals are grazing. Some people have cows, other people have donkey's, sheep or horses.
catches fire, but I don’t know any more if that is true. The chief decided that she could rent for free a small chamber in his house, so she had at least at night a place to sleep inside. She did not have much clothing left. Christa brought some old shirts there, which she could give to such people. She asked the tour guides if it was possible to give some shirt to the woman. Normally, the shirts and the gifts will go the Malealea Development Trust Foundation. The man of the lodge is running that foundation. He gathers all clothing and gifts; where he shall spread all the clothing and gifts equally on those who need it. But this time, Christa was able to give the shirt to the old woman. That was almost heartbreaking. The woman was so in shock, she almost started to cry and was so happy with a shirt. If I knew this before, I also would have take some old shirts with me to give it to these people. But of course, you are also able to donate some money to the foundation.

We arrived back at the lodge, where we
The Botsoela Waterfall TrailThe Botsoela Waterfall TrailThe Botsoela Waterfall Trail

Group-picture at the Botsoela Waterfall, together with our guide Regina.
have time for a toilet stop and to pack our bags with the lunch packet. From here, we should be picked up again to do the hiking trial to the Botsoela Waterfall. Again, two local teenagers shall help with the tour. Regina joined us again together with Emanuel. The Trail was beautiful. We walked though the town into the fields and went downhill to walk in the valley. We walked across the river, we crossed the river at some points and we had to climb some rocks as well. Here, you really could enjoy the great scenery and the landscape. And in mean time have a chat with our guides. We cross some local farmers here, where there animals are grazing on the fields. The trail showed some differences and around 1,5 walking we arrived the waterfall. It was really a great waterfall. We met the other group of people who were doing the day hike. At the waterfall we had our lunch, and from here, we went backwards. The same route, but now you could enjoy the scenery again. And we had to climb up that hill again. That was quite tuff. You can notice that we were quite high and that you are not used to it yet. Also, it was quite hot as well. It’s so hard to tell the trail, but you really need a guide. There are no paths, you just walk into the wilderness with the two guides. You should wear some good shoes and the stones might me slippery that you use when crossing the river. One time, it was slippery and I felt off the stone and I land in the river. My legs where wet, but at least I had some laugh. Due the good weather, it was quite fast dry. Just look at the great pictures that I made here.

Just as every afternoon, the local choir (including Regina) and the local band is performing for the guest of the lodge. The choir is singing in their own language, and making more classical music where the woman’s are signing opera. The band was playing, was playing out of self made instruments. For us, that looked quite funny, but it’s actually surprising that they are able to make instruments out of everything and that they are able to making good music out of it as well. In total, the choir and band were playing for an half hour.

Manda had some great diner for us. He cooked again African food. He used a mix from flour and beans and made some porridge of it. He served with some chicken wings in sauce and some vegetable mix of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. But, how was the sleeping in the huts? O that was so great! I slept in a traditional African hut. I never did it. We had good mattresses. But, we did not had light due lack of energy. Also, the hut did not contain a toilet or a shower; therefore we still had to use the toilet blocks. The hut only contains two bed and one very small corridor.

Too bad that we had to leave the next day from Malealea. But we had a great insight of Lesotho and how the local people live here. If you have more time, you really can spend your time over here. There are many things to do. Tomorrow, a long ride was schedules to go to the Drakensbergen. The Drakensbergen are the big mountains, that start already in Lesotho; but the mountains will be at their best at the Drankensbergen spot. The only problem that you can have over here is the weather, which can be quite bad over there. With lot of rainfall. And we had to, sadly, experience that over there. Luckily, we did not have that in Malealea and we could enjoy the beauty of the African landscape, and pick up some real traditional Africa that you do not suspect in a small country, laying enclosed in South-Africa.


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