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Author Topic: Lesotho, the hard way.(Complete)  (Read 47071 times)

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Offline madmike999

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #160 on: April 20, 2010, 09:18:06 am »
Hi Dustdevil / Michiel

Haven't read to much of the report yet, but have been checking the pics (will get to reading at some point :))

Just wanted to comment that the photo below is one of the most stunning ever!!!






 :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft: :thumleft:


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Offline Michiel

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #161 on: April 20, 2010, 12:09:22 pm »
This picture was taken by Dustdevil and it captures the moment spot on. Cartier Bresson would have been impressed...
Sack is at best a bit camera shy but no one can dispute he is a handsome fella.  ;D

Dustdevil has much more and better still coming, we must just not lose faith, so to speak.
 

Offline fat b

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #162 on: April 20, 2010, 01:20:49 pm »
I'm still faithfull ... at the moment , but how much longer I can hold out I don't know !!! ???
This RR is driving me nuts ! Every day I open it and just get teased !!! Hurry up now !

 THE CHALLENGE MAY NOT BE EASY , BUT IT'S NOT IMPOSSIBLE.
SO MANY PLACES, SO LITTLE TIME !

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Offline Rynet

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #163 on: April 20, 2010, 03:51:21 pm »
Thanks Michiel and DD ! I am enjoying the RR, keep it coming   :thumleft:

ps Michiel no rush,  its actually cool getting this report in drips and drags , and by the time it is finished it will be a nice read for the Chrismas holidays   :imaposer:
 

Offline fat b

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #164 on: April 20, 2010, 03:54:13 pm »
Thanks Michiel and DD ! I am enjoying the RR, keep it coming   :thumleft:

ps Michiel no rush,  its actually cool getting this report in drips and drags , and by the time it is finished it will be a nice read for the Chrismas holidays   :imaposer:
Christmas ??????????? more like easter !!  :imaposer:

 THE CHALLENGE MAY NOT BE EASY , BUT IT'S NOT IMPOSSIBLE.
SO MANY PLACES, SO LITTLE TIME !

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Offline Dustdevil

Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #165 on: April 21, 2010, 10:48:12 pm »
Hey stop complaining and read the story ;)

Thanks for the compliments on the imagery. I have worked for years in the commercial photographic industry and was assistant to some big guys out of Europe. Everything is always so set up and pre-planed and sometimes you believe it is impossible to get good images if it is not done in this way.
It's just nice to be able to haul out a camera and shoot a picture because you really want to.


At Sehonghong turn in next to the small runway in a westerly direction and head toward the end of the runway where a track leads of down into the Senqu river valley. I felt nervous following Michiel down this path that clearly have fallen into disuse a long time ago. Some distance down I saw an erosion donga cutting through the road and felt a bit relieved, this mean we will have to turn around and abandon this idea of getting through the Senqu river so that we could connect to a lesser travel road on the western side of the river.

I would love to go explore the road on the other side but the part that lay between this road and us is a big question mark. No map or any other source could give any information on whether it is possible to get through here. On Google Earth there is signs of a track but then the entire Lesotho seem to be covered in tracks that are not in use anymore.

We got to the donga and it became clear why the road are not in use anymore, The soil is washed away on both sides to the point where only animals, people and of course a motorcycle could still cross.
My luck is out; we are going to follow this road right down to the bottom of the valley.
Large sand stone slabs of loose rock are covering the entire road surface. This was the material used to help fill up the foundation of the road, everything else have been washed away. The heavily loaded bikes are slowly being nursed over this harsh road surface, blipping the front wheel over the largest obstacles. Bouncing down this impassable track the one thing that kept me positive was the long footbridge that appeared in sight. The though of being forced to turn around and try and negotiate this same peace of road was just too much.

As we got near the river the track veered away from the bridge and it did not take long for us to realise that we will not be able to get close to the bridge with the bikes, we were going to have to cross the river and get up a near vertical wall on the other side. The steep hillsides were also not giving away any possibility of a road leading up the other side of the valley.

The only solace is some vehicle tracks in the soft sandy riverbed. Somewhere there must be a road.
The last section of washed away road was particularly crazy with step-downs, jagged rocks and deep ruts. We made it down to a grassy knoll just to be stopped by a very deep donga that have cut off the access to the river completely.
I started to do a little scout around by foot and found a very steep bank next to the river used by locals on foot. We will be able to get down but not back up, this might be the proverbial flytrap; once we are in the river we might be stuck.

Some locals were crossing the hanging footbridge and Michiel asked them the way to Thaba Tseka, they are all pointing in the direction we just came from ???.

I decision was made that Michiel will take the KLR down, the KLR being the lightest, and first to go and scout the river for a possible point where we could cross.
Stefan then decided he would follow Michiel into the devils claws as he was beyond the point of turning around come hell or high water.
I waited patiently by the big HPN while Michiel was checking the river to the north and Stefan went down South.

It took them long enough but once they returned Michiel was sure that we would get stuck in the mud even though the water was shallow enough to cross and Stefan was sure we could cross at a rocky section further down.

Everyone waited in anticipation as I started my decent down the riverbank. The dilemma here was not only the steepness of the bank but the fact that there was a deep donga cut right across the slope forcing you to do a hard left as you start sliding down. The soil is dry and very loose giving very little traction, I dropped down the bank like a piece of lead and came to a crashing halt with the bike on its side at the foot of the riverbank but at least I was far away from the edge of the donga.

We followed Stefan down to the rocky section The dry river sand turns out to be something else and not getting up enough speed I got stuck quickly. By the time we reached the waters edge it was midday and I was exhausted from pushing.

I carried my luggage across to minimise the weight but I also do not want to take chances with my computer and camera gear in the water.  It was immediately apparent that the round river rocks are incredibly slippery; they seem to be covered with a thin layer of algae and the strong current washing over the rocks does not make things easier as one canít see below the surface.

Up to this point we have all been standing on the pegs when the going got tough but here we decided that paddling the bikes with the other riders walking alongside will be the safest way to get the bikes across.

This took up a lot of time and we were all somewhat nervous about finding a way up on the other side, every step we take we might have to do again if we canít reach the other road up on the hill.

Up to this point some kids have been following our antics getting through the river but they suddenly started to seem useful as they know of a road past the cornfields. This turned out to cut through one section of cornfield and crosses a number of deep and gnarly ruts and dongas but as long as we could get the bikes through these we were happy about the bucks we parted with in exchange for the info.

Paths are crisscrossing the hillsides and confused us a few times but finally we arrived at the village on the other side. One last steep hill right through the village and suddenly we were on a beautifully crafted Chinese road all the way to Thaba Tseka.

We filled up with petrol at Thaba Tseka and did a hare run for the Katze Dam Lodge. This road is 60 km but measured across on the map it only covers 23 km, as the crow would fly. This is giving one some idea of the scale of this small country. Michiel often underestimated distances because on the map it looks like only around the corner, but donít forget about the thousand of corners you will do to get there.

We reached Katze right before dark but I did not appreciate the fast pace rushing past many beautiful scenes and scenarios.

The footbridge in the distance.


On the way to Katze I forced a stop at these kids playing with there home made bike.




Sorry for the lack of images here but I guess you will have to get the video as we were so busy shooting video footage we forgot to get some stills as well.


 

Offline fat b

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #166 on: April 22, 2010, 08:13:18 am »
DD please put my name down for a copy of the video !  :drif:

 THE CHALLENGE MAY NOT BE EASY , BUT IT'S NOT IMPOSSIBLE.
SO MANY PLACES, SO LITTLE TIME !

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Offline GStry

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #167 on: April 22, 2010, 10:43:45 am »
Great RR and pics, Thanks enjoyed it a lot. :thumleft:  :thumleft:
 

Offline Michiel

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #168 on: April 22, 2010, 01:52:15 pm »
Crossing the river on the rocks was going to be the only way but it did prove to be a bit more tricky
than I imagined. The rocks are anything up to the size of rugby balls and more or less the same shape
while being as slippery as a greasy weasel.

Getting the bikes across took lots of energy and had all three of us huffing and puffing. Neither Sack nor
Dustdevil filled up with water since we left Qacha's Nek Border Post last evening and by now they were
basically out of water. Ironic since we are right in the middle of a big river.

At this point I realized it was time to get out my reserve water system. Two wine pap sakke my aunt kept
for me after she held a biduur on the farm. 1st they put their noses up for the water tasted a bit like wine
but soon Dusty and Sack realized that dehydration can be a real danger and took their share without more
complaints.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/noICYQWVLAc&amp;h" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/noICYQWVLAc&amp;h</a>


The way up the opposite side of the valley was not clear and after paying them some boys pointed the way.



Long story short we did eventually make it all the way to a road again but not before negotiating a lekker
steep track with a intimidating camber.

Sack with great relief, now back on roads again.



Some bystanders in the village on top of the hill.



This lady patiently kept her pose as I tried different methods of capturing her image against a brights sky.



By now we realized we were running short on time and stopped fooling around in preference of reaching Katse
before nightfall. Leading the pack I put in a pace as stiff as the KLR can muster.



The road to Thaba Tseka winds it's way up the most spectacular mountains.





Stopping to take the pictures above a taxi stopped and the driver immediately asked if I was from Cape Town.
Must have seen my number plate. A happy bunch in the taxi I still regret not having time to make conversation.





We reached Katse without further incident and chose to settle in their dormitory accommodation.
« Last Edit: June 25, 2010, 12:32:20 pm by Michiel »
 

Offline GStry

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #169 on: April 22, 2010, 07:38:21 pm »
ONCE AGAIN NICE REPORT, BUT ITS NO WONDER THEY THROW STONES AT US IN LESOTHO WHEN GUYS RIDE THROUGH THEIR PLANTED FIELDS.... AS PER YOUR VIDEO. :patch:
 

Offline eikeboom

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #170 on: April 22, 2010, 08:20:19 pm »
Thanks guys for an awesome report!
Looking forward to the rest  :ricky:
Let's go into the mountains...there's likely to be peace and quiet
 

Offline Michiel

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #171 on: April 23, 2010, 08:53:01 am »
ONCE AGAIN NICE REPORT, BUT ITS NO WONDER THEY THROW STONES AT US IN LESOTHO WHEN GUYS RIDE THROUGH THEIR PLANTED FIELDS.... AS PER YOUR VIDEO. :patch:

Yea, you're right. Not about the stone throwing though. That apparently is the fault of French Missionaries
about a century ago...  :pot:

Dustdevil, to this day, feels bad about the fact that we "ploughed" through that field but I should say that if
you were there you would have understood. I have gained the greatest respect for these people and would
obviously not have done anything of the sort on purpose or without a good reason. Studying the contours
of that foothill this patch of corn field might have been planted in the path of the old road that obviously
don't exist anymore.

Thanks for your concern though, it's good to know that there are people out there who think about these things.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2010, 08:56:50 am by Michiel »
 

Offline Dustdevil

Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #172 on: April 23, 2010, 07:01:15 pm »
ONCE AGAIN NICE REPORT, BUT ITS NO WONDER THEY THROW STONES AT US IN LESOTHO WHEN GUYS RIDE THROUGH THEIR PLANTED FIELDS.... AS PER YOUR VIDEO. :patch:

It is interesting though that they plough their planted fields themselves.

 

Offline BlueBull2007

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #173 on: April 24, 2010, 05:04:05 am »
Im so glad you guys are finally continuing with this report. Its the best one this year by far! Respect to you all! :notworthy:
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Offline fat b

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #174 on: April 24, 2010, 07:36:16 am »
Im so glad you guys are finally continuing with this report. Its the best one this year by far! Respect to you all! :notworthy:
:laughing4: So am I ! It's starting to become my morning "fix" I read the next episode of this RR instead of having a smoke !  :biggrin:

 THE CHALLENGE MAY NOT BE EASY , BUT IT'S NOT IMPOSSIBLE.
SO MANY PLACES, SO LITTLE TIME !

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Offline SGB

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #175 on: April 24, 2010, 05:45:54 pm »
ONCE AGAIN NICE REPORT, BUT ITS NO WONDER THEY THROW STONES AT US IN LESOTHO WHEN GUYS RIDE THROUGH THEIR PLANTED FIELDS.... AS PER YOUR VIDEO. :patch:

It is interesting though that they plough their planted fields themselves.
NEVER EVER ride through a field in Lesotho - planted / ploughed / weeds / corn - NEVER!

I like the report - lots of adventure.  Nothing wrong with that.  May I suggest you remove the piece of video in the field from whatever you publish.  And if you (meaning anybody here) want to give give something back for the fun you have had, you are welcome to talk to me.  I am closely involved with the Basotho and we always look for ways to help making agriculture more sustainable in Lesotho, and we are trying to break the bondage that the aid organisations have on those people by handing out food and agricultural inputs (fertilizer, seed, etc) - it creates a dependency which removes the incentive to work.  
Sorry - I have said too much already.  
Looking forward to the rest of your story. :thumleft:
« Last Edit: April 25, 2010, 01:13:15 pm by SGB »
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Offline Dustdevil

Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #176 on: April 27, 2010, 11:55:07 pm »
ONCE AGAIN NICE REPORT, BUT ITS NO WONDER THEY THROW STONES AT US IN LESOTHO WHEN GUYS RIDE THROUGH THEIR PLANTED FIELDS.... AS PER YOUR VIDEO. :patch:

It is interesting though that they plough their planted fields themselves.
NEVER EVER ride through a field in Lesotho - planted / ploughed / weeds / corn - NEVER!

I like the report - lots of adventure.  Nothing wrong with that.  May I suggest you remove the piece of video in the field from whatever you publish.  And if you (meaning anybody here) want to give give something back for the fun you have had, you are welcome to talk to me.  I am closely involved with the Basotho and we always look for ways to help making agriculture more sustainable in Lesotho, and we are trying to break the bondage that the aid organisations have on those people by handing out food and agricultural inputs (fertilizer, seed, etc) - it creates a dependency which removes the incentive to work.  
Sorry - I have said too much already.  
Looking forward to the rest of your story. :thumleft:

The riding through the field was not a planned thing, at this point I was following the directions given by the children and because this was the end of the field it was not till I was in the field before I realized that it was planted. Besides there was just no way around this section. We traveled for some kilometers next to and through the fields on footpaths and tracks not setting a foot into the cultivated part. I would not have been in the field if there was any alternative at that point. I come from a farming community myself and do understand perfectly that it is completely disrespectful to drive right though a field for fun but at the same time most young plants easily recover from some abuse and the damage left was negligent considering that we were at this point without water and still some distance to go on a track that might not get us to where we needed to be.
I am glad the issue is in the air though because everyone reading this forum will appreciate the importance of consideration and respect needed when traveling through other peoples land and property. This brings me to the next point though, and a hard one for all of us and especially for myself, I don't feel regret riding my bike though that field but I am regretting riding my bike. In a world full of disrespect, selfishness, intolerance and indifference it does not help when we keep doing things that will inevitably lead to this kind of situation willingly or unwilling. It starts at filling your tank with fuel at the nearest gas station where you pay for petrol that are mostly coming from parts of the world where people are dying because of famine and warfare and sometimes these are directly related to the mining of crude oil.
I know you guys don't want to listen to this green BS babble but it is a fact that our consumer money empowers governments and corporations to exploit the poor and the uneducated. I think the Basotho nation have been lucky up to know considering.

I would love to be able to go to the village chief to apologize and give him something in return for the damage but then because of my selfish nature, rushing to keep up with a ridiculous schedule so that I can get back to work because I need to be paid in order to be able to do this driving through someone else's field, I can't spend half the day looking for the right chief that might now be on the opposite side of the valley.

Nothing I say can justify me riding through that field but then nothing I say, or you say, can justify our ridiculous materialist lifestyle either.

Enough of the heavy stuff, lets get carried away and numb our senses with some more ride report :biggrin:

The Katse dam have never been one of the things on my list of places to visit, sorry I have to say this, many people was displaced and many fields covered underwater so some people far away can profit through their material lifestyle, me being one of them. Here is just the perfect example of what I was talking about earlier.

But none the less here we are standing at the feet of this great engineering feat marveling at it's greatness :-[



 

Offline SGB

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #177 on: April 28, 2010, 06:14:25 am »
I like your response and the way you think.  The tension between the first and third world will always be there.  Personally, I am in the first world but not from there.  You do a good job explaining the bigger picture.  But way down in that valley, there is the guy who owns the field, and I always try and look through his eyes when I am in Lesotho.  I am fortunate to have grown up with the Basotho, I speak their language and can relate to their culture.

I fully agree with your view.  That is why I decided some time ago that I will put in some time, effort and money to try and make a small difference.  It has been an amazing journey.  And I get more from it than I can ever put in.

Thank you for your constructive approach.
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Offline eikeboom

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #178 on: April 28, 2010, 07:00:56 pm »
Hijack:
Good show guys - the regulars on R&P should come and read here how to get along with each other... :thumleft:
Let's go into the mountains...there's likely to be peace and quiet
 

Offline husky

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #179 on: April 29, 2010, 05:26:54 am »
Great report. At the river crossing, could you not ride over the pdestrain bridge. I know some are impossible with the approaches washed away but on the Mantsonyane - Semonkong short cut riding over the pedestrian bridge save a lot of pain in a rocky river bed.

I agree with SGB, Lesotho is a really good place with generally friemdly people. Sadly the billions poured into the water scheme (by SA taxpayers so okes in Jhb can waste water!! ;D) has not really helped the average Basotho.