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Author Topic: Lesotho, the hard way.(Complete)  (Read 47072 times)

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Offline Michiel

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #180 on: April 29, 2010, 04:38:44 pm »
Waking up to the sight of Katse Dam I felt an excitement for today we will travel a section of road
I've been curious about for the last 12 months. Sleeping in the Katse Lodge dormitory we were
probably cheating a bit as this doesn't really make for adventure but after yesterday's excitement
we all needed a good rest and some proper cooked food. Speaking of food, in anticipation of having
to ride a long way today we decided to leave Katse at the crack of dawn and rather have breakfast
somewhere en route. (Breakfast will consist of whatever we've been carrying in our luggage.)

During my previous visit to Lesotho John and I traveled on a road that was basically a shortcut between
Mokhotlong and Katse Dam. It took us past a Missionary which was about half way between the main
road (that goes to Mokhotlong) and Katse.





Just after the Missionary (going in the direction of Katse) the road splits in two and here we got confused.
John's GPS didn't indicate a road at all but the little arrow that pointed towards Katse said we had to take
the left fork. The map I had and my interpretation of it said we had to go right. At the time we were running
seriously late and John was in a bad way. He blundered down in the direction he's GPS pointed and used up
time having to turn back while I halted after some local kids told me it wasn't the right way. Long story short
we ended up taking the other way, which turned up to be the right way for what we had planned.





Once back in Cape Town I consulted with Google Earth and discovered that John's GPS road does actually
go to Katse all be it a bit longer and by the look of it slightly more "adventurous". The plan is then to take
this road but this time only in the opposite direction as for today we are heading towards Mokhotlong and
on down Sani Pass to stay at my Aunt's in Pietermaritzburg.

The view right from the Katse Lodge.



The usual picture taking commenced at the dam wall.



To get to the turn-off of the road we need to take we had to backtrack towards Thaba-Tseka for about 30km, I think.
Along this road we rushed yesterday there turned out to be a couple of picture taking opportunities.







Since first discovering Lesotho I've been all to aware of the, call it nuisance, of children begging. Everywhere
one goes, well, actually not everywhere because this habit only seem to occur along the bigger more travelled
routes. I've heard people comment and expressing their dismay for this sort of behavior can become a bit
intimidating/irretating if you are on an extended stay in the Mountain Kingdom. This is the part where the
French Missionaries come in... Apparently they used to hand out sugary treats in order to lure the Basotho
into their God's house. Now the children see every passing white man as a possible opportunity to get some
sweet reward.





Some who know Lesotho a bit better than the rest of us reckon it's because of people handing out sweets
that the children throw stones at passers by. If you won't take note or stop they might just as well throw a
stone to vent frustration or something of the like. It was my idea then to try and make a closer photographic
study of this begging phenomenon. In my pictures maybe one could read deeper into the matter. I got some
images that, today, make me want to weep. I'm having difficulty in putting to words exactly why. I suppose
I am experiencing some real empathy for these children as it is my modern world that has brought them a
longing for things that they really don't need.







I do need to strongly say that once you give these kids a chance they really open up to you and it becomes
a joy to be around them. At first most travelers might try to avoid them crowding around but when you conquer
your preconceived notions a whole world opens up.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2010, 04:53:31 pm by Michiel »
 

Offline eikeboom

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #181 on: April 29, 2010, 09:29:39 pm »
I see some of these kids are quite cocky!
Let's go into the mountains...there's likely to be peace and quiet
 

Offline Dustdevil

Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #182 on: April 29, 2010, 09:39:29 pm »
I see some of these kids are quite cocky!
You know what, sometimes they really are but only from a distance. Once you stop and pay them some attention they run away scared.
 

Offline Dustdevil

Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #183 on: April 29, 2010, 09:43:13 pm »
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.

This section was between Sehonghong and a road that followed on the western side of the Senqu river to Thaba-Tseka. This footbridge here is not accessible by bike but if you keep following the story we will get to the bridge you are revering to :mwink:.
 

Offline Dustdevil

Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #184 on: April 30, 2010, 11:49:21 am »


We left Katse in the direction of Pietermaritzburg to stock up on supplies and to do maintenance and repairs on the bikes if needed. We did not need to do any of this at this stage of the trip but the routine was already build into our plans and it was going to be the only way for me to see Sani. I have never been on Sani pass even tough I have started numerous trips with plans to go through Lesotho via Sani but needed to change my plans during the trip.

Michiel had another section of heavy riding on the agenda for the day although these were roads still in use so they turned out to be far more manageable. The road here on the forum is known as the Village chiefs road and will take you in the direction of Mokhotklong and a short jump to Sani Pass.

I will leave the pictures to tell the story but basically a very scenic drive with some rough and technical sections making for some exiting riding.

We wasted to much time here and ended up arriving in Pietermaritzburg in the dark and in the rain, erm, waste is the wrong term here, in Lesotho no time is wasted, what I mean to say is that we stopped a lot and spend a lot of time making videos and shooting pics plus a stop or two for snacking and just enjoying the scenery.

















Reaching the top of Black Mountain Pass these black clouds spell rain and surly before Sani we ended up riding in a light drizzle that continued till we reached the bottom of Sani Pass.



« Last Edit: May 01, 2010, 12:00:10 pm by Dustdevil »
 

Offline Michiel

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #185 on: April 30, 2010, 01:39:30 pm »
Ag nee man Dusty, wat het nou in jou gevaar? While in Lesotho no time is wasted. The longer you're
stuck somewhere the more colourful and memorable the experience becomes.

Here is the route we took...

 

Offline FarScape

Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #186 on: May 03, 2010, 01:52:50 pm »
I've been reading your trough your RR a couple of times now and it is probably the reason why my cap gets finished so quickly each month.

I have been in Lesotho only once and that was over Easter weekend this year. Unfortunately I had only two days to take as much of the country in as possible. Manly stuck to the main road from Sani to Buthe-Buthe and exit at Caledons poort.

People warned me of all the stone trowing on the roads but I do believe because I was alone they let me passwith out incident. However I did notice on passing some of the settlements the children comes running screaming down the hills waving with their right hands and with a stone in the left.

I think if there was someone riding a short distance behind me he would not have been so lucky.

I do not see of myself as a very experienced rider and going up Sani alone and it been my first time was nerve shattering. Luckely I did not come off but I had a lot off close shaves. I can still see myself going down that shear cliffs at some off those hair pin bends. I must say on my way up I passed an Indian family in their volksie bus going up. They clearly did not see the sign in the bottom. Think they are still there.

I think going down Sani is more difficult than going up. That I will leave for my next visit to the mountain kingdom.

Ps. On reaching the top the Customs official asked me why my hands was shaking so much. It was not the cold that I can tell you for sure.


The best time to plant a seed and grow a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is now.
 

Offline Michiel

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #187 on: May 03, 2010, 03:52:39 pm »
Riding solo is a totally different cup of tea.. and Sani doesn't look the same as time goes by. I've been up
and down it a couple of times during the last 4 years and this year was by far the worst. Congrats for not
taking a tumble!  :ricky:

Just for the interest, Hennie and I went to the same school although he was two years ahead of me. Good
to see you on Wilddogs Hennie.

Now back to the report.

The road turned out to be very pleasant. Not so difficult that we were falling over but just technical enough
to justify standing on the foot pegs. In the dry one will be able to negotiate this section on bikes like Vstrom's,
Vuka's, 990's and maybe a Katana. http://www.wilddog.za.net/forum/index.php?topic=38766.msg761251#msg761251



For the more cautious Adventure Rider this section will be a great adventure. From where we turned off the
Katse - Thaba Tseka road it crosses a deep valley and once up on the opposite side it becomes a tweespoor that
winds along a stream and occationally goes up the foothills. By the time one pass the 2nd of three villages, along
the way to the Missionary, one start climbing on to the top of the mountains. The road used to be in good shape
but has deteriorated over the years.

Dustdevil and I took some time making video and taking pictures. Sack felt that we need to get going. Dustdevil
had other ideas. Sack has been very patient all morning and I felt torn between two. Sometimes we would actually
spend 40min around a village, ride for 10min and stop again to take pictures of another attraction. A day can go
by very quickly this way, if you're the one holding the camera, thus I appreciated Sack's predicament.

















From the Missionary onwards though the Chinese are building some brand new roads.

I guess for the people who have to travel through here on a regular basis this is a blessing but for me it just ruined
the experience. I prefer things to feel a bit more rustic. From the Missionary I knew the way and once we were in
Mokhotlong I was in familiar territory as I've been here on three previous ocations.





By now it was a good while into the afternoon and according to Stefan's GPS we wouldn't make it to Pietermaritzburg
on that day. The GPS were obviously using our slow progress of the morning to calculate the remainder of the day's
travel. The road from Mokhotlong to Sani can be traveled at a brisk pace so we did. Stopped once for a bite to eat
and one more time to put on our rain suits as we were heading into some serious storm.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2010, 03:58:23 pm by Michiel »
 

Offline zetman

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #188 on: May 04, 2010, 10:11:57 pm »
Lekr man julle vorder mooi
Hou die Tyres op die Grondpad...
 

Offline billy-joe

Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #189 on: May 09, 2010, 03:18:28 pm »




hey guys, where is this road and where did you get a well detailed map?  we're doing a trip in 4x4's on august, do you think that section will be doable in winter?

regards and great trip report.
bj
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Offline Dustdevil

Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #190 on: May 09, 2010, 07:01:00 pm »


hey guys, where is this road and where did you get a well detailed map?  we're doing a trip in 4x4's on august, do you think that section will be doable in winter?

regards and great trip report.
bj

Don't know much about Lesotho in winter although I am trying to convince Michiel that we should go back in the winter months.

The maps you can get from the department of surveys and mapping in Mowbray.
The only maps that cover Lesotho is the 1:250 000.

 

Offline Michiel

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #191 on: May 11, 2010, 11:14:54 am »
Hey Billy-Joe

The road you're interested in will probably be do-able but I think it's going to be mighty wet during
August - October so be prepared to slide around and even get stuck. On top of the mountain there
was a huge boulder right in the middle of the road but the Chinese seem to be upgrading the roads
on that side so by the time you go they might have bulldozed it over the ledge.

This is a very nice road though and takes one through a most beautiful area.
 

Offline Michiel

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #192 on: May 12, 2010, 08:23:11 am »
As I'm sure you all feel, I've really become impatient with the slow progress of this Ride Report.
Having said that I'm distressed to say that we are suffering yet another setback.

I have good news and then I've got bad news... What do you want to hear first?
 

Offline madmike999

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #193 on: May 12, 2010, 08:27:59 am »
bad first
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Offline fat b

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #194 on: May 12, 2010, 08:37:28 am »
bad first
+ 1 gooi the bad , cause the good better GOOOOOD !!!

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

MOSSEL BAY
 

Offline Michiel

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #195 on: May 12, 2010, 08:40:07 am »
That HPN bit the hand that feeds her. Dusty had a really bad accident. Andrea, his wife, sms'ed
me this morning with the news. At the moment he is in a hospital in Port Elizabeth. The details are
vague but I understand he broke his shoulder and a couple of ribs, which punctured his lunge.  :'(
« Last Edit: May 14, 2010, 07:17:25 am by Michiel »
 

Offline DRAZIL

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #196 on: May 12, 2010, 08:48:10 am »
This RR is like national geographic slow but worth the wait for the awesome pics. :thumleft:
 >:D
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Offline Crossed-up

Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #197 on: May 12, 2010, 08:59:51 am »
Ag no!  That's such bad news.  I wish him well for a speedy recovery.
 

Offline madmike999

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #198 on: May 12, 2010, 10:15:13 am »
Ag no!  That's such bad news.  I wish him well for a speedy recovery.


same from me!!!!!!
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Offline Rynet

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #199 on: May 12, 2010, 10:53:55 am »
terrible news , strength to Dusty and his family