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Author Topic: Mountaineering in Lesotho  (Read 22724 times)

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Offline Minxy

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #60 on: May 10, 2015, 09:03:29 pm »
Really, really enjoying your RR!
HSK and I nearly made the mistake of taking that same road with our fully loaded KTM's last year in June, just in the opposite direction as you guys though. We still saw it on T4A and it looked like such a nice little shortcut, except we couldn't really find any useful information that specific route... Eventually the manager at the Semonkong lodge warned us against it! All I could think of afterwards is thank the pope we didn't go up there on our own hehe.
Hats off for riding those hectic routes with the big bikes, wow!!!  :ricky:
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Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #61 on: May 10, 2015, 10:56:15 pm »
Really, really enjoying your RR!
HSK and I nearly made the mistake of taking that same road with our fully loaded KTM's last year in June, just in the opposite direction as you guys though. We still saw it on T4A and it looked like such a nice little shortcut, except we couldn't really find any useful information that specific route... Eventually the manager at the Semonkong lodge warned us against it! All I could think of afterwards is thank the pope we didn't go up there on our own hehe.
Hats off for riding those hectic routes with the big bikes, wow!!!  :ricky:
I do understand why there is so little info about this shortcut. Even if you have done it yourself, what do you tell other people?
It just depends on the weather and actual road condition. We were very lucky that we didn't have any rain.
In dry conditions, I would tell everyone to give that route a try. You just have to be self sufficient and you should have a certain fitness level to get a heavy bike through there. In wet conditions you should give it a miss, unless you are a riding god.
With lighter bikes it's a very different story. You could do it in a couple of hrs, even when its wet.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2015, 10:57:26 pm by DirtyHarry »
 

Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #62 on: May 11, 2015, 09:03:25 am »
Day 9

The next morning we said good bye to our hosts. In fact the whole family was sleeping in one room that we could use the other one. And they treated us like royalty. The huge plate for dinner, a kettle of hot water for tea afterwards and then they gave us a bowl of warm water to wash our salty bodies. And we knew that the water was not coming from the hot water tap. They do all the cooking on the open fireplace in the small round hut. There is no chimney and the smoke of the fire sits in the ceiling. I guess the roof of the hut does ventilate a little.
Instead of using a toilet, Johan advised us that we could use the empty bucket if we had to. Plain and simple.
By accident we made friends with some great people, we would have never met otherwise.







It took Johan quite a while to convince his wife that I could take a picture of the whole family in the hut. She was afraid of bad luck or something.




Geryís tappet cover looks like a piece of art and we were hoping it would hold together. We had no more Pratley left anyway.



We went with our bikes to the lookout point where we could see the river one more time. It was a privilege for us to come this way, even if it showed us where our limits are with our rather cumbersome adventure bikes. It was all well worth it.













To get to the gravel road towards Semongkong we got lost a couple of times and we asked the locals for direction. Big mistake. Every time we asked for the road we got directed to nothing more than a goats trail. This were the tracks these people use by foot or on their donkeys. I am sure we missed the 4x4 track at times.





We met a few more friendly people along the way and stopped for a chat. If I could give one good advice for people who travel in rural areas. Spend some time with the locals and kids along the way. You donít have to give money or hand out sweets all the time. Just show some interest and have a quick chat. The kids are always happy if you show them the pictures you have taken and have a quick laugh with them.



 



 

Then we only had to cross a little river and we were back on track. We officially made it safely to the gravel road to Semongkong.












I think we were both glad and sad at the same time. Glad to be able to make good enough progress that we could make it to the airhead gathering. In the end we were one day late but we could at least meet and great all the other airhead nutters. I personally have been very sad that we were officially leaving the rural part of Lesotho. Wherever a lot of people find access to easily, the land and the people change. Everything becomes commercial.
Nevertheless, we had a quick toast when we reached the tar road. A toast to our last two riding days. It was a great experience.



We just had one more thing to do. We had to visit the Semongkong waterfall. This was one of the reasons why we went on the 4x4 track in first place.  Itís quite a beautiful sight and we had the place to ourselves, which made it even nicer.

« Last Edit: May 14, 2015, 09:36:58 am by DirtyHarry »
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #63 on: May 11, 2015, 11:28:57 am »
Fully agree - those remote places give you a taste of quickly disappearing world, where inter-personal contact and decency is still more important than quick buck. Unfortunately even the eastern Lesotho is changing quickly and you can read about many instances of stone throwing, that just few years back were very rare in the east.

Offline Jovies

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #64 on: May 11, 2015, 01:11:39 pm »
I like the old Ooms on the old bikes!!Very nice.
It is the best feeling to be lost in the right direction.
 

Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #65 on: May 11, 2015, 02:28:42 pm »
Fully agree - those remote places give you a taste of quickly disappearing world, where inter-personal contact and decency is still more important than quick buck. Unfortunately even the eastern Lesotho is changing quickly and you can read about many instances of stone throwing, that just few years back were very rare in the east.
We did not experience one incident with stones, other than falling on them  ;D
If all people who visit Lesotho would respect the locals and as a matter of decency reduce the speed when they pass people or animals, greet them or even stop every now and then for a little chat, we would not have these problems.

It comes from disrespectful bikers and 4x4 drivers that we have to deal with the stone throwing nowadays.
 
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Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #66 on: May 11, 2015, 02:50:26 pm »
I like the old Ooms on the old bikes!!Very nice.
:lol8:
We take that as a compliment.
 

Offline DRAZIL

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #67 on: May 11, 2015, 03:34:22 pm »
fantastic ride report
Thank you :thumleft: :thumleft:
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Offline Archangel

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #68 on: May 11, 2015, 04:36:36 pm »
 :happy1:

Already drawing up my list of routes for next time...  :thumleft:

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #69 on: May 11, 2015, 04:37:44 pm »
Great report. Looked like a proper adventure
Well done :thumleft:
 

Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #70 on: May 11, 2015, 09:50:25 pm »
We just arrived at the tar road and I was missing our 4x4 track already.




The road to the waterfall is not really marked but you can guess where is if you follow the gravel road to the direction of the river.
Unfortunately we have been there in the morning and had the sunlight against us. In the later afternoon the light must be perfect with a mild back light. Here is a selection of our pics.

 




















Back to the tar road we had only one goal in mind. Making it to Smithfield ASAP or we would miss the whole gathering.

We enjoyed the twisting road towards Maseru. From there we went via Mafeteng to the Sepasus border post. We had a quick and uneventful border crossing and made fast progress towards Smithfield.

I was running a bit low on fuel because the petrol station in Roma was out of fuel. So far we did not have any problem with our huge tanks and we made it safely to the next pump about 15km down the road.




Back to SA.


We arrived at the game lodge at 4pm and said hallo to a lot of likeminded airhead owners. Gery had one more surprise up his sleeve. He laid down in front of his bike, to pay tribute to get him out of the valley.



Obviously we had to explain ourselves for our late arrival and had to tell our story a couple of times. Then only I realized, you canít tell other people what happened during the last couple of days within a few words. Our experience was a lot more intense and a lot more special.
For me it was a bit of cultural shock being in such a perfect place with the nice accommodation and the abundance of drinks and food. I didnít want to say it but I was enjoying our campsite at the river at lot more than this.
For god's sake, our beds in the tents even had heated blankets and some of the people told me the next morning how cold it was during the night.




If somebody will ask me why I would prefer to be in a place without great luxuries, I would not find the right answer. Maybe itís because a place in its natural beauty and the people who live in it are lot more honest. There is no Make-up needed and there is no bragging in places without commercial influence. Itís just the pure landscape and honest people, nothing more, nothing less.

« Last Edit: May 13, 2015, 10:54:10 am by DirtyHarry »
 

Offline Sputnik080

Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #71 on: May 11, 2015, 10:33:59 pm »
Wonderful, well done! :thumleft: 
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Offline Samou

Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #72 on: May 11, 2015, 11:26:24 pm »
Thanks for sharing I truly enjoyed your trip report and photo's - you've earned a salute  :deal:
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Offline pietas

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #73 on: May 12, 2015, 07:26:30 am »
Inspirational, sir. Thank you very much
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Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #74 on: May 12, 2015, 08:36:13 pm »
I am glad that some of you are enjoying the RR.
 

Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #75 on: May 12, 2015, 08:47:27 pm »

After a rather opulent dinner and chatting to a lot of old and some new airhead friends, most of the guys went to bed early. We were standing with a handful of people around the fire and enjoyed a few more airhead stories.
The next morning we were supposed to ride to Cape Town with a group of my mates. Once it was clear that they would stick to the N1, I quickly made up my mind. There was no way I would spoil our trip with a highway return trip. Gery could also not warm up to that idea and we decided to get back to the Cape on gravel roads rather.
Lorenzo brought new rear brake pads for me and I could take the old once off. They were well used and down to the metal.






The Gariep dam looked pretty nice but you can hardly find access to the water.




The attraction for me to ride gravel is not only for the more interesting riding. I just hate traffic. We did find nice gravel roads all the way to Victoria West and hardly met any other vehicles on route. I could live with that in comparison to the boring N1.
We were making good progress but had to stop for this tower from the war times.




It was about 15km before Victoria West when Gery stopped his bike because of grinding noises coming from his gear box.




We just rolled into town and Gery made the decision to stop his ride there. He didnít want to grind up his gear box and wanted to find alternative transport for his GS. He arranged with his wife to collect a trailer from a friend and to pick him up the following day. He also wanted to convince me that I could carry on to reach Williston as planned. With 2 hrs remaining daylight it would have been possible but I did not want to leave my riding partner behind like that. Instead we booked into a B&B and had a couple of beers together on the stoep that night. We both have had shared a great ride and this was bringing it to an almost perfect ending, only about 550km short of our final destination.

 

Offline Chairman Meow

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #76 on: May 12, 2015, 09:57:05 pm »
Fantastic Harry & Gerhard.....an honor to know you two fellow Airhead owners.  :thumleft:
Glad the yearly gathering gives you an excuse to explore these amazing routes....a wonderful RR.  :thumleft:

( Btw...one solution for the tappet cover could of course be to just carry a spare...or like the rally bikes of the past split those peanut covers and carry only a quarter cover that fits on any of the sections)
« Last Edit: May 13, 2015, 06:03:19 am by Chairman Meow »
 

Offline DirtyHarry

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Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #77 on: May 12, 2015, 09:59:08 pm »
The next morning I said goodbye to my partner in crime. We had a great time together, thatís for sure.


On my way towards Sutherland, on very fast gravel roads, I did look into my mirror many times to check if I could see another dust cloud following me. Of course there was nothing and I did get used to the rhythm of riding on my own, as I usually do. Itís quite different and if you ask me what I do like best, I could not really tell. I did enjoy the camaraderie we had going throughout the last 11 days of our ride and was missing it for sure. Freedom in the real sense of the word you possibly can only get if you ride on your own.


I went quickly up to the Sutherland Observatory to enjoy the view and filled up petrol in town. The roads were almost deserted.





Then I decided to ride over Ouberg Pass and later the R356 towards Ceres. Here I found the most beautiful landscape so close to home.




















I am traveling not only to see new places but also to enjoy the journey. And I was enjoying myself tremendously during the last 12 days. I could have not asked for a better time. My painful crash and all the little hiccups were just part of a great riding experience.

Geryís bike made it also home safely, just on the back of a trailer.



Thanks to Gery for being such an easy travel companion and a big thank you to Volker, who made it possible that I could continue the trip after my nasty off on the 2nd day. One thing is for sure, I would like to explore more roads off the beaten track in Lesotho.
 

Offline Xpat

Re: Mountaineering in Lesotho
« Reply #78 on: May 12, 2015, 10:14:27 pm »
Great ride, thanks for the write-up! It's good to see that there are people here who prefer to stay off the beaten track.

Offline Dorsland

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Re:
« Reply #79 on: May 13, 2015, 07:13:38 am »
Outstanding RR Harry, I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you. You sound like a person I would like to meet someday.
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