Easter break Lesotho trip 2011

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Thanked: 1

    Default Easter break Lesotho trip 2011

    Trip overview:
    7 Days, 6 Nights;
    2 Vehicles with rooftop tents & 1 regular tent (ground pitched);
    1996 Mitsubishi Colt Double Cab; 2003 Land Rover Defender TD5;
    Pretoria - Underberg - Sani Pass - Mokhotlong - Katse Dam - Lejone - Pitseng - Hlotse - Oxbow - Caledonspoort - Clarens - Pretoria;
    Total Cost: +- R3500 pp

    Day 1 (Saturday 23 April 2011): Pretoria - Underberg
    Accommodation: Camp at Sani Backpacker Lodge (pre-booked) R70 pppn. Warm showers & cooking facilities provided. http://www.sanilodge.co.za/

    We left Pretoria early Saturday morning, at around 04:00, so that we could make it to Howick in time to watch the rugby! In howick we stopped at the magnificent Howick Falls, and browsed through the little shops that line the road to the falls before settling down at the Red Tap Pub for a couple of beers and to watch the rugby. After the rugby we set off for Sani Backpackers Lodge just outside Underberg where we had a reservation to camp for the night. We arrived after dark and there was no one at reception but after finding out where the camp area is from another guest we found a suitable spot and made camp.

    Day 2 (Sunday 24 April 2011): Underberg - Sani Pass - Mokhotlong
    Accommodation: Camp at 10 Riverside (huts also available), on the main road from Sani Top to Mokhotlong R50 pppn. Very basic but very clean facilities (only longdrops & no showers). S29 23.361, E29 05.030
    Contact Thabiso +26659054117 (send sms rather than phone as cellphone reception is very poor)

    The next morning after breakfast, we drove back to Underberg to fill up on petrol and do some last minute shopping. From Underberg we then took the road back past Sani Backpackers Lodge and on to the famous Sani Pass. Crossing through the South African border post we ascended this beautiful pass with its very sharp bends. Arriving at the top of Sani Pass we stopped at the Lesotho border post. Although we had all the usual documentation with us (letter from insurance, original car registration/letter of permission from owner) none of this was required. After having our passports stamped we stopped at Sani Top, the highest pub in Africa, for a beer and to walk around to the various vantage points.

    While we were standing at one of the vantage points we noticed a taxi driving up Sani Pass which was having trouble negotiating one of the last turns. It seemed the taxi had damaged its 1st gear trying to get round the bend and up the steep incline and it was now blowing black smoke furiously as the driver tried to force it, but to no avail! In the end the driver managed to turn the vehicle around and drive the rest of the way in reverse gear! No small feat considering he still had a few bends to get round and also had to deal with oncoming traffic!

    We left Sani Top a couple of hours later and set off for 10 Riverside where we planned to stay the night. This is a very remote part of Lesotho with few people but whom are all very friendly. The road to Mokhotlong (A14) is a dirt road and it took us around 1.5 hours to drive the 30 Km's from Sani Top to 10 Riverside, which is a locally run establishment owned by a friendly old ntate, Thabiso. Thabiso was kind enough to lend us his braai which we gladly used to braai our lamb chops on once we made camp.

    Day 3 (Monday 25 April 2011): Mokhotlong - Katse (via A3)
    Accommodation: "Bush camped" along the road en-route to Katse

    We hit the road early the next morning as we were warned that the road from Mokhotlong to Katse, although only about 170 Km's, can take quite long and you have to cross the Koma-Koma low water bridge which can be flooded if they opened the sloughs at Katse. The map showed the A3 to be a tarred road but we found it to be an average quality dirt road with some big ditches and lots of potholes. The going was quite slow as we were only able to drive around 20-30 Km/h. This stretch of road passes through some of the most beautiful parts of the trip.

    At the Koma-Koma low water bridge we found the bridge partially washed away but still passable. After crossing the Senqu river (which is the main outflow out of the highlands and the start of the Orange river) we stopped along the river to have lunch. This was a rare time when we were able to enjoy lunch in peace without being disturbed by curious on-lookers hoping to receive something.

    After lunch we set off again for Katse. After a couple of hours of driving the weather was starting to pick up and dusk was approaching so we decided to make camp next to the road or "bush camp". Some women next to the road advised us to go to the next village to ask for the chief's permission, which we did. We paid him R100 for the 4 of us to ensure that we could camp safely on his grounds. The first spot we picked was probably a bit too close to the village as we were harassed endlessly by the locals who wouldn't stop following us and shouting for "SWEEEEEEEETTTTTTSSSSSSS!!!!!!!! or MONEYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!" In the end we decided that this wasn't going to work so we travelled some way back on the road to a more sheltered spot we had passed earlier just outside the village. As darkness fell, we were able to make camp in peace, and just in time, as the rain started to fall.

    That night the rain and wind was quite strong but our well secured gazebo & tents saw us through.

    Day 4 (Tuesday 26 April 2011): Katse - Lejone (Bokong) - Pitseng
    Accommodation: Camped at Aloes Guest House (pre-booked) R50 pppn
    Private bathroom with warm shower and flush toilet. http://www.aloesguesthouse.com/

    The next morning we awoke to a horseman angrily demanding we pay his chief R200 for camping on his grounds. We tried to explain that we were told to go to the chief in the next village and asked for his permission and had already paid him, but the horseman said no, this was the grounds of the chief in the previous village. There was no use arguing so we paid him the R200 and he left.

    The rest of the morning we kept getting visitors standing around and waiting for us to give them something. We handed out tennisballs and some food and after a while they gave up waiting for more and left. It got to be slightly frustrating that they are not grateful for what you give them and keep asking for more. Strangely enough, we found that the people we found working would greet you friendly and not ask for anything while the ones sitting around doing nothing were the ones demanding things from us. I think the people of Lesotho would do well to remember that if you make it enjoyable for tourists, more would come, and they will get much more than just something in the hand they put out.

    We continued on the dirt road to Katse information centre. We wanted to do the Dam Wall tour but were told the next tour would only leave at 14:00. As it was only 11:00 we decided not to wait for the tour but to take the dirt road that goes along the Eastern edge of the dam and joins the tarred road (A25) just before the Malibamatso bridge. The road was in a very good condition and was a very scenic alternative to the main road, offering lots of great photo ops of the dam and the villages along its edge.

    Crossing the Malibamatso bridge and leaving Katse behind the A25 quickly starts rising into the spectacular Mafika Lisiu Pass. We had just passed the first sign warning of ice and snow when we started seeing ice on the road. This started getting gradually worse as we climbed into thick fog. Scary as this was, we just drove slowly, hazards on and before long saw the national parks sign indicating we are now entering Bokong Nature Reserve.

    At the top of the pass we turned into the visitors centre. (http://www.lhwp.org.ls/environment/n...ves/bokong.htm
    tel ++266-22913206 or ++266-22460723)
    Here we found a quaint building nestled in between the rocks with a stunning view of the picturesque valley below and the beautiful Lepaqua falls. After buying a few woven crafts and enjoying a cup of coffee with a fire burning in the fire place we hit the road again to descend into thick mist and steep downward slopes with hair raising hairpin bends to the valley below. The rest of the road to Piseng was a very good tarred road.

    We spent the night camping at Aloes Guest House & Backpackers with the use of one of the challet's bathrooms: flush toilet and warm shower! We enjoyed a marvelous beef potjie but only after we managed to recover the bakkie from the marshlands they call their lawn! This, needless to say, ensured a number of chirps from the Land Rover guys!

    Day 5 (Wednesday 27 April 2011): Pitseng - Hlotse - Oxbow
    Accommodation: Camped at Oxbow Lodge R30 pppn. Access to a toilet and shower which wasn't in a very good condition but we made due. http://www.oxbow.co.za/

    The next morning we got a late start but was in no hurry as we only had around 120 Km's to travel. We stopped in Hlotse for a few essentials and to look for Basotho blankets. The Leribe craft centre was well stocked with mohair products which were quite expensive but beautiful. We asked about the Basotho blankets and were told that they don't stock these but we could find them at any "ordinary" shop, i.e. chinese/indian shops or supermarkets. We found them to be best priced at Metro in Hlotse.

    From Hlotse we travelled through Butha Buthe and started ascending the spectacular Moteng Pass to Oxbow (+- 1 hour). This is the start of the Roof of Africa Tour which goes from Butha Buthe, past Oxbow and down to Mokhotlong. A very steep road with lots of crazy bends and stunning views which makes it easy to see why it is so popular with bikers.

    We arrived at Oxbow in the late afternoon and asked if we could camp at the lodge. For R30 pppn we could spend the night and had access to a toilet and shower which wasn't in a very good condition, but we made due. We ate lunch at the lodge & went to make camp.

    That night the temperature plummetted to below 0 C and we went to bed quite early. We spent a cold night sleeping in our tents and woke the next morning to ice crystals covering the roof of our rooftop tent - an indication of just how cold the night had been.

    Day 6 (Thursday 28 April 2011): Oxbow - Liphofung Caves
    Accommodation: Challet at Liphofung Cultural Village (R450 per challet). S28 45.305, E28 29.640; Tel ++266-22913206 or ++266-22460723

    We planned to take it very slow on our last day and decided to make brunch on the rocks next to the Maliba-Matso river that flows past Oxbow Lodge. After brunch we packed up our tents and started making our way down the Moteng Pass to Liphofung Caves and Cultural Village where we would spend our last night.

    Arriving at Liphofung we were happily surprised to find that they offered stunning 3 bedroom challets for only R450 per challet per night! These seemed to be brand new and no bedding or cooking utensils were provided but we had all of these anyway so it was a rare treat to spend our last night in the comforts of a warm challet!

    Day 7 (Friday 29 April 2011): Liphofung - Caledonspoort - Clarens - Pretoria

    Next morning we packed up everything and went to explore the Liphofung cave. Even though this was more of an overhang than a cave it was still worth the visit. I would definitely recommend spending a night in a challet at Liphofung as an alternative to staying in a challet at extremely pricey rates at Oxbow (R800 - R1200 pppn for a double room with bed & breakfast).

    We hit the road again with the plan to take the dirt road to Monantsa Pass border post but only a Km or so on the dirt road & the guys in the Landie started complaining about the car sounding like it was coming apart. Turns out the dashboard had come loose & the rattling was apparently unbearable. We decided to turn around & rather take the tarred road through Caledonspoort border post and onto Clarens. This of course didn't go down well with us in the Colt and many chirps about Land Rovers only being good enough to drive on tarred roads followed.

    After a last stop in Clarens for some shopping and lunch we hit the road again for the last stretch back to Pretoria.
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    Last edited by stevo; 2011/05/27 at 03:37 PM.

  2. The Following User Says Thank You to stevo For This Useful Post:

  3. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Port Elizabeth
    Thanked: 7


    thanks for the info....

    pity you know the place more than me.......I am from Lesotho....

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Riebeek west.
    Thanked: 20


    Commander XK CRD GDE HOT tjoon - Strong like bull.
    OME, big tires, blah blah

  5. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Thanked: 377


    Great report. Heading that way next week for a first visit to Lesotho. Looking forward!
    Peet Schultz

  6. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Pretoorsdorp (Centurion)
    Thanked: 168


    Quote Originally Posted by PeetS View Post
    Great report. Heading that way next week for a first visit to Lesotho. Looking forward!
    Peet, you must enjoy!
    I've being there this past weekend, we had a awesome trip! I've just posted a trip report, please PM me if you require more info.

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