Geo: -29.61, 28.2336
Lesotho is a unique country in Africa. It has never been colonized although was a protectorate of Britain. Their famous leader King Moshoeshoe united many previously fighting Basotho tribes to maintain ownership of the Kingdom in the Sky. They fought Zulu warriors and the Dutch and British. The result of this remarkable history, and obviously more complex than described here, is what appears to be happy people who are very poor. The country has a very different feel from South Africa even though it is completely surrounded by its only neighbouring country, South Africa.
We left the Drakensbergs, travelling through the Royal Natal and Golden Gate National Parks observing stunning mountainous scenery and stopping for a quick breakfast in the sweet and very busy little town of Clarens. The town was hosting a well-known off road bicycle race. It was bustling, so much so that we had to approach a couple of racers in the restaurant to request to share their table with them. They were from J'Burg and we had a delightful conversation over breakfast.
Continuing our journey onward, we crossed the border into Lesotho and drove for an additional 4 hours arriving in the remote village of Malealea in
the western region. Malealea Lodge has a long history beginning as a trading post. We stayed in a rondavel, with Chester the resident baby donkey who is quite spoiled hanging out in the yard around our little hut. A local choir and then a band playing homemade instruments entertained us in the very cool late afternoon air.
The next day we headed out on our own, confident we could find our way to the Botsoela Falls even though we were encouraged to hire a guide. We hiked in the glowing sunshine making our way quite nicely until we encountered a lone shepherd and his dog. He pointed in the direction of what we guess was the falls so we went that way, then like a magician he'd appear again out of nowhere and direct us to cross the river or head one way or another. Next thing we knew he was trailing behind us. We tried to discourage him but he was determined to be our guide so why not?...he seemed harmless, was dirty and looked hungry. When we successfully arrived at the falls we shared our lunch with him, gave him a small amount of money while he waited
for us to leave. Once we were on our way, he disappeared into the hills. It was a kind and gentle encounter with what felt like a very old soul.
After two nights in our rondavel we continued on our journey returning to Cape Town making one last stop in a town called Nieu Bethesda which turned out to be a little out of the way which felt like an old deserted cowboy town from a movie nestled in some hills in the desert. It had signs of a healthy tourist trade perhaps in another time of year or perhaps another era. We got some nice photos, stayed in an old water tower (yet another curious abode in a line of many on this trip) and enjoyed the quiet.
Our big adventure is winding down. We return to Canada on May 10 to settle home for two weeks then will visit family and friends in Ottawa and Edmonton, returning to work in June.
We will blog one or two more times to offer our impressions of re-entry and reflections of our life on the road.
Tot: 2.304s; Tpl: 0.082s; cc: 12; qc: 28; dbt: 0.0439s; 2; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb