Hogsback to Johannesburg

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February 5th 2013
Published: February 5th 2013
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Day 6-11 Hogsback-Drakensberg-Johannessburg.

After a wet night in Hogsback, and Simon having a few wins on the pool table we set off back in our big yellow truck for Lesotho (pronounced Les suit too). Lesotho is a very small kingdom of 2 million people completely landlocked by South Africa with mountains and highland. It is a constitutional monarchy and unfortunately the 3rd poorest country in the world, with unemployment between 30-50%! (MISSING)

After making it through the border crossing with no dramas, the drive into Lesotho, with beautiful mountain views and waving village people made us start to feel like we were in real Africa. Settling into our cute and picturesque campsite in the town of Malealea we decided to go for a run through the village. Not an easy run in the heat, altitude, general lack of fitness and too many snacks on the truck, but we hauled our butts up a slow and steady hill. The views were once again spectacular, overlooking the village, mountains, fields of maize and the local high school. On the way back we bumped into two gorgeous 11 year old girls, who shyly but happily conversed with us and agreed to a photo with their balloons that we had just given them. That evening, back at the campsite we were entertained by the locals who showcased a beautiful choir as well as a band. The band’s instruments were somewhat creative, guitars made of an olive oil tin, stick and strings, a bongo/drum made out of a cylinder and some leather and drumsticks made from tyre scraps. Nevertheless, the music was incredibly entertaining, as well as the fellow hippy camper who decided to embrace the music, dancing in the garden next to the performance despite having absolutely no rhythm what so ever (I though Simon had no rhythm- he looks like Michael Jackson compared to this man), which led to a few quiet giggles from those watching including those in the band and choir.

The next morning began with a lovely yoga session overlooking the mountains before setting out on a horse ride through the rugged mountains to the Botswara Falls. As we were both first time riders we saddled up under the advice of our guide Mafa and lept onto our horses Leabo (Simon) and Toby (me) in style. We were joined by Rise and Shine and Iced Tea, which were Keisha and Gary’s horses. Setting out on horseback we both took to it like ducks to water, and this was confirmed by Mafa that we were total naturals. However, the terrain didn’t stay even for very long and before we knew it, we were trekking up very rough, steep and uneven terrain. Simon’s horse Laebo very much suited him. They had similar traits of being disobedient at times and forever grazing on the grass. After about an hour and a half we reached the falls. Giving our butts a break the boys went for a refreshing dip under the falls whilst I enjoyed the music of some locals down by the water. On the ride home we had a bit more confidence and tried a bit of galloping but, not for too long as neither of us quite had the skill set to control our horses in the event of a full blown sprint.

We spent the afternoon being guided through the Malealea village by Max our tour guide seeing the local corner store, pub and a hut where we were able to sample the local home brew. Even though it was going for only 3 Rand a glass you couldn’t coerce any of us to have more than a sip! (Yep it was that bad). We then ventured on to the local craft store, purchasing a few local hand woven souvenirs in support of those in the village suffering HIV to help them access medicine (we were told HIV is prevalent in around 30%!o(MISSING)f females here). Throughout the tour Simon and Robin attempted to purchase a hut for 500 Rand with some change for some small renovations, but unfortunately one of the chiefs assistants (a beautiful 80 year old lady) didn’t allow this. So they are both still on the hunt for some property in Lesotho. We finished up our tour with a visit to the local museum/hut which displayed some local cow skins that used to be worn for warmth, some tools for food preparation and that was about it!

Simon commenced the morning of our departure from Melaelea with watching the sunrise and capturing some great pictures as the sun rose over the mountains. We all really enjoyed our time here in this quaint little village. The people lived so simply, yet were so happy and were incredibly hospitable. It was a nice reality check and reminder that it is the simple things in life that bring about happiness.

The next day was mostly a driving day back into South Africa and into the Freestate through the stunning Golden Gate National Park. Once again the yellow sandstone cliffs were stunning and great viewing from the truck all the way to our lovely campsite in the Drakensberg Park (a world Heritage site). Once we arrived we pitched our tents in time for a wonderful Braai followed by the most spectacular lightning and thunder storm. After giving Robin some stick about Gary getting better lightning photos than him and his tent almost blowing over, we returned to our tent to find it on its side full of water (that’s kharma hey!). After setting up a second tent of the evening (which by the way we have it down pat to erecting it in 3.38 minutes we had an early night prior to our hike in the Drakensberg mountains.

Our hike yesterday was one in which we experienced all four seasons in a few hours. Our super chilled, hippy tour guide Adrien, introduced us to a new meaning of T.I.A (this is Africa) whilst blasting some awesome tunes including Toto’s Africa on the way up to Amphitheatre Mountain situated at 2500m. The temperature was very cool and visibility was quite poor. We set out scrambling up wet, slippery steep rocks from the get go, hiking up to 3140m on the eastern cape of the mountain. We then traversed across to the longest waterfall in South Africa - 1km long of which we could only see approximately 2m of it due to the cloud and mist which was a tad disappointing. On our descent we had the pleasure of encountering 3 hail storms whipping our bare legs and two 25m climbs down a vertical cliff face hanging on to a mere ladder with no ropes. I think it was a blessing that Simon wasn’t expecting the shear drop and height of the climb down and therefore not having time to freak out too much. (Jonny there was just no such thing as OH&S!). I told Simon after the descent that I found the ladder climb scarier than the bungy. Luckily on the walk back down, the mist lifted at times displaying spectacular views of the cliff face, gorge and valley. We arrived home wet and cold but enjoyed the hike a lot.

Today was a travel day and we have just arrived in Pretoria about 50km out of Johannesburg. I am currently sitting by the pool sipping on a nice cold beer and enjoying the wifi after 10 days of no internet which has been lovely. Tonight we say farewell to Helena and Robin who will be sadly missed (our mum and dodgy uncle on the bus). I hope there will be someone to replace Robins’s shit stirring, photography tips and handyman skills such as fixing our blown out flip flops and Helena’s informative commentary and intuition to take our washing off the line before a storm. We greet 15 new comers onto the trip this evening which should turn our nice little family into a buzzing, fun group.

We hope all is well back at home. We look forward to updating you soon hopefully with reports of lions and hippos and giraffes from Kruger National Park in the next few days.

Love Simon and Alex


5th February 2013

Adventures 6-11
The adventures continue, wow the things you manage to pack into each day. Certainly keeping active. Be careful not to 'run' into many wild animals unaccompanied. We want you home eventually. Lesotho sounds like a wonderful place to engage with some amazing people. Looking forward to a sample of some of the photos when the opportunity to upload occurs. Take care of each other and continue to embrace the adventures.
6th February 2013

Am certainly enjoying reading about all the action packed days, you are having some great first time experiences! How wonderful as well that the tour is taking you to some out of the way locations -Lesotho for one - and your description of the scenery & activities is informative & colorful. Can't wait for the pics & videos - in partic 'tweety bird"! Enjoy! xx

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