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Author Topic: Lesotho, the hard way.(Complete)  (Read 46045 times)

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Offline Michiel

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #260 on: June 08, 2010, 12:10:28 pm »
The route that we had planned for today included a little detour I saw on my map. It will take us off
the A3 right on top of the Mokhoabong Pass. See v-shaped route on map. On Google Earth it looked
like a very faint track though. We decided to make the call when we get there. Our destination will be
to camp in the Senquyane River en route to Semonkong.



To get from Thaba Tseka to Mantsonyane one has to cross yet another mountain. Unlike the landscapes
we've seen today this one has suddenly become barren and rough. A cold wind is now howling around
the jagged edges of exposed hard rock. Not a village in sight. No animals grazing on the slopes, just a
eerie empty landscape.  Given the hour of the day we decide to give this one a miss and rather aim
straight for Mantsonyane. The Chinese has been hard at work around Montsonyane. There is a big bridge
going up and the road has been widened to highway scales. I am disappointed to see that they have
buried under landfill the charming little low water bridge as one enter Mantsonyane. Now this highway
just steamroller straight ahead!

Mantsonyane will be the last big village before Semonkong and although they are less than 60km apart
we will have to stock up on food because this is going to be a slow and strenuous 60km. I also want to
swing by the Police Post and see if Inspector Makheta is around. I met the Inspector last year and he was
very helpful to convince John that the road we were going on was, as he said: "very drivable". This wasn't
really accurate but that's what I wanted to hear.

By the Police Post Sack parked the 800 in a rather unconventional way. He will have to explain exactly
why but at the time we did have a good laugh about it.



We were in luck because the Inspector was there and indeed available. Nice to see him again. A large strong
man with a gentle friendly face and a good command of English. Saying our goodbyes the Inspector wished
we will return again and promised that he will be there to "welcome us in any way".

A picture from last year. Inspector Maketha sitting at the desk and John standing by my side.

« Last Edit: June 08, 2010, 12:14:51 pm by Michiel »
 

Offline PinkGoat

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #261 on: June 10, 2010, 10:52:16 am »
I've only just stumbled upon this RR and have to start from the beginning!!!

How is one meant to work when you've been reeled in by such awesome pics and a great adventure unfolding?  :-\ Can't wait to stuck into it!!!
In the end it's not the number of years in your life that counts, but the life in your years...
 

Offline fat b

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #262 on: June 10, 2010, 11:04:46 am »
I've only just stumbled upon this RR and have to start from the beginning!!!

How is one meant to work when you've been reeled in by such awesome pics and a great adventure unfolding?  :-\ Can't wait to stuck into it!!!
:laughing4: It's addictive bru ! Just give in and let it suck you in !  :thumleft:

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

MOSSEL BAY
 

Offline Waynan

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #263 on: June 10, 2010, 01:26:45 pm »
I've only just stumbled upon this RR and have to start from the beginning!!!

How is one meant to work when you've been reeled in by such awesome pics and a great adventure unfolding?  :-\ Can't wait to stuck into it!!!
:laughing4: It's addictive bru ! Just give in and let it suck you in !  :thumleft:


It is worse than addictive, I am sitting here waiting for the next update and trying to concentrate on work but all I have is the overwhelming urge to go and ride.
 

Offline PinkGoat

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #264 on: June 10, 2010, 03:35:10 pm »
The dusty streets of Hofmeyr.


Hofmeyr gets a mention!! Whoo hoo!!

Home, sweet, dusty, in the middle of nowhere home!!!  :biggrin:
In the end it's not the number of years in your life that counts, but the life in your years...
 

Offline Michiel

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #265 on: June 10, 2010, 04:47:19 pm »
Thanks for watching ladies and gents.  :thumleft: I am itching to get this ride report done.
Problem is that Dusty also has to participate otherwise we'll lose more than half of the good stuff.
I've been nagging him all week to make an appearance but with no result. Any sugestions?  ???
« Last Edit: June 10, 2010, 04:48:17 pm by Michiel »
 

Offline g1_

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #266 on: June 10, 2010, 07:57:42 pm »
So you got any of those dvd's lying around?
 

Offline Hitman

Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #267 on: June 11, 2010, 10:40:21 am »
So you got any of those dvd's lying around?

Yes please, let us know......and what medium of gratification you accept!! All this effort shouldn't go unrewarded!!

Dusty, whenever you're ready  :pot: NO PRESSURE!  :pot:
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Offline Dustdevil

Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #268 on: June 13, 2010, 10:51:41 am »
Our route for the day took us quite a distance from Molumong to Mantsonyane along the main route running east-west between Sani and Masero. Parts of the road even comes with a tarred surface.

At Montsonyane we would leave the smooth roads behind for a smaller village road that according to all maps does not connect with another road from Semonkong. Michiel have assured us that there is a road connecting these two roads, nobody uses it anymore but that should surely not be a reason why we cant get through.

After leaving the main road it does not take long for the road to deteriorate to low range conditions very quick, only problem is that our bikes don't come with low range.



Mantsonyane village. It is strange how exposure to capitalism and western influences seems to strip these rural peoples from their culture and self worth. As soon as you enter bigger centers there is suddenly pollution, alcohol abuse and the structures of their architecture looses its appeal in a random mess of haphazard building and cheap materials  produced by the colossal consumer machine of western "civilization".



Construction equipment on the main road between Thaba Tseka and Mantsonyane.



Some more progress most likely unwanted and useless to most people living in rural Lesotho.



Back to the ride and Michiel thought it wise to take a detour around a gnarly section only to find himself in even deeper s&#@t. I almost followed him into that.
 

Offline Waynan

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #269 on: June 13, 2010, 01:32:25 pm »


Mantsonyane village. It is strange how exposure to capitalism and western influences seems to strip these rural peoples from their culture and self worth. As soon as you enter bigger centers there is suddenly pollution, alcohol abuse and the structures of their architecture looses its appeal in a random mess of haphazard building and cheap materials  produced by the colossal consumer machine of western "civilization".

I guess what this just illustrates is how Lazy humans have become, we all are always looking for the quick fix or easy way out, slapping together a "shack" is far quicker and easier than packing stones/bricks. I mean even look at the more affluent areas, we rather pay other people to deal with simple tasks like mowing a lawn or sweeping a floor. Modernisation just serves to make us lazy and useless.
 

Offline Kwis

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #270 on: June 13, 2010, 03:12:21 pm »
Wat het gebeur? Myself tussen Montsonyane en Semenkong met n KLR gery, + GS800,950KTM en nog n KLR. My hart klop nog steeds erg as ek daarna terug dink. :drif:
 

Offline Michiel

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #271 on: June 14, 2010, 01:49:03 pm »
Wat het gebeur? Myself tussen Montsonyane en Semenkong met n KLR gery, + GS800,950KTM en nog n KLR. My hart klop nog steeds erg as ek daarna terug dink. :drif:

Just keep watching. We are now on our way to try cross the Senquyane and ascend the mountain on the Semonkong side.
In the upcoming posts we will report in detail about our endeavor/ordeal.

One thing I should touch on... Maybe some of you can help. I once read that some guys successfully travelled this road
on amongst other bikes, a Triumph Tiger, in the snow, at night. For anyone who have actually done it in recent years this
might sound a bit thick. I certainly think so.

A year before a friend (John) and I were naive enough to think we could ride this section between Mantsonyane and
Semonkong with full luggage, extra petrol, no extra water or food in a afternoon. We had no idea. This piece of road,
about 60km long, isn't your usual ride. We decided to give up about 1/3 of the way in with the most difficult section still
far out of our reach. At least I now had the opportunity to travel the same stretch of track in the same direction exactly
one year apart. This gave me the chance to see how much the track deteriorate as time goes by.



Obviously this road was built some years ago and at the time it should have been quite motor-able. Within the 12 months
that elapsed since my visit here I could clearly see the increased deterioration of the road surface. More lose rock, more
and deeper ruts/dongas ex ex. It would be reasonable to think then that the older this road becomes the worse the condition
of it until of course the Chinese get their hands on it.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2010, 02:07:43 pm by Michiel »
 

Offline Michiel

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #272 on: June 14, 2010, 02:48:04 pm »
Mantsonyane has a small business centre where one can buy food, petrol and obviously alcohol. For tonight
though we will need some bread. Asking around we quickly get what we need. Dustdevil and Sack bought
warm fresh vetkoek while I went next door and got some bread. Nothing like I've tasted before. Also still
warm from the oven the piece I got was heavy and dense while being suprisingly tasty and sweet.

The day was getting old and although we were all still in good spirit there was a sudden urgency to get going.
I am the only one who know what's lying ahead and the other two are trusting in me to lead them in a
responsable way. From Mantsonyane we head towards Aruy, another official settlement, and from there we
will only pass small villages. Navigating becomes a bit more tricky now and although I couldn't remember
before hand exactly where to turn it came to me as we went along.

Interesting enough was that Sack's GPS actually picked up on the road. Sack jokingly announced that the
GPS says we can: "continue on the bad road".

Aruy has a modern church building marking the beginning of our road to Semonkong. This building is considerably
bigger than those in the rest of the village. Towering higher than any other man-made structure it's spire resembles
that of a European cathedral. I believe those cathedrals were built to showcase God's almighty power and the church's
influence. Medieval men were surely in awe and trembled when they stood in these houses of God. Actually, I visited
some cathedrals in England and they are pretty amazing. I wonder if the Basotho see these places of worship in the
same way. I mean, are they in awe by these structures and does it make them fear God?

We didn't stop for pictures at this stage so I'll put some in I took the year before.





Looking back towards Aruy.

« Last Edit: June 14, 2010, 03:11:17 pm by Michiel »
 

Offline fat b

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #273 on: June 14, 2010, 02:52:08 pm »
Move it move it !  :thumleft:

 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 #274 on: June 15, 2010, 05:01:55 pm »
Leading out of Aruy the road climbs steeply up to the top of this mountain ridge and from here it runs
in a Southerly direction all along the ridge. Inevitably the ridge gives way now and then to a break in
the mountain and this is where the trouble start. To cross these gaps in the ridge the road has to veer
off along the steep slope. The road is still in a good condition apart from deep dongas that has eroded
here and there. I am fascinated by the amount of work that has been done to allow this road to run here.
In places there are beautifully stacked rock retaining walls of several meters high. There are at least four
substantial villages along this way and as we make swift progress we pass one or two 4x4 bakkies heading
in the same direction.

Coming around yet another sharp bend the road has been badly washed away. A deep rut runs from the
inside with a slanting angle to the outside of the road. No matter how one approaches it you will have to
cross the rut at some point. We are riding in convoy with a good pace and stopping won't be possible.
Leading the pack I narrowly escape by swerving sharply and then crossing the rut at an, closest to, right angle.
Sack, unfortunately, didn't have it so lucky and as he hits the rut it just washes out the front wheel making
him come off very hard. Sliding down the road on his arse with rocks and gravel flying all over. Ouch!

The impact of his fall bursted something in his hydro-backpack. Upon investigation we discover with a relief
that it wasn't the water bladder but a small tetra-pack of juice. Fortunately Sack and the 800 seemed to be fine.





By now I am starting to realize that we are running behind schedule. The other problem is that Dustdevil is
sweeping and he apparently doesn't get it when I say we need to get a move on. Frequently Sack and I have
to stop because Dustdevil has fallen behind. Along this road there are lots of opportunities for pictures and
Dusty doesn't want to miss any. At one point we even turned around and tracked back up a difficult section
of road to see where the hell he is. Now I am starting to feel the tension John must have felt last year. I want
to try to get us down for camping in the river and Dustdevil is taking his time. With this the road has also
deteriorated to a really difficult muddy and rocky track.

Luckily the weather is still beautifully sunny and pleasant.





 

Offline Michiel

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #275 on: June 17, 2010, 06:35:40 pm »
This ride report will become a little disjointed from now on but I just can't wait anymore. Want to give you something to
look at over the weekend. Between the two of us we are posting in steps, me then Dusty and me again. Dustdevil promised
to put something up on Wednesday and I'm really disappointed to find still nothing by this evening. He has some nice
images to post, to keep the time line correct, before I continue with the story but I guess you lot will be able to make sense
of it all.

Maybe it is supposed to be like this. I mean, my frustration, Dustdevil's despondence and the fact that everything will seem to  
start spinning around. At least, this is what things started to feel like towards the 2nd half of the afternoon riding the road to  
Semonkong. By now the road has really deteriorated to such an extent that we might just as well be bush tracking. In fact,
instead of going around one of the hills on a muddy road we just scoot right over it on a little foot-path, the other two following
me hesitantly.

It is evident now that no vehicles travel here anymore. The traffic that we saw earlier was just to get to those first villages on this  
cul-de-sac. By the time we reach the last village situated on this ridge of the mountain, Motsoanakaba, the sun is already sitting  
low. There is a primary school situated here. A sign announces it's presence but since everybody must be on their xmas holiday the  
buildings on the hill that resembles a school are deserted.

I rely on more pictures from last year to show you what Motsoanakaba looks like.



This is also the spot where John and I pitched tent alongside two families with their 4x4's after we gave up last year. These two  
families actually made it all the way from the Semonkong side but it took them the whole day. The men are experienced 4x4
enthusiasts but  they admitted to this being their most difficult trek so far.



Descending the mountain leading up to the Senquyane they had to make their passengers walk in places as the vehicles became
too unstable and dangerous. They told us that at one stage the 4x4's were sliding out of control and the wives and children sat on
the rocks crying. All this made John and myself very scared. At the time I never would have thought I'd be back here to actually
try and ride up this mountain.

For now though we were just trying to get down to the river. Having had the time to wander around last year I discovered a tap
with spring water near the school and this is were we make our last stop to fill up before making the descend to the Senquyane.
It has become very clear to me that we won't have enough time to get to the river before sunset. The sensible thing to do is to
discuss this fact with my riding buddies and make camp here where I know we are safe. I refrain from doing this. Stupidity and
selfishness takes the upper hand as I really looked forward to camping in the river and don't want to camp in the same place twice.
Hurrying them up we saddle up and embark on the descend to hell. Dustdevil wants to know what the road looks like from here to
which I respond: "it gets really bad, even steeper and more rocky". Sack has been rather reserved and quiet, as usual, but as I look
towards him for a response he breaks the silence by saying: "let's go".

The view from Motsoanakaba towards Semonkong.







No more pictures were taken from here on but the video cameras were rolling so I include some snippets to help tell the story.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/pGpkj-eJnUQ" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/pGpkj-eJnUQ</a>
« Last Edit: June 25, 2010, 12:21:53 pm by Michiel »
 

Offline CliveG

Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #276 on: June 18, 2010, 12:05:56 am »
  After watching your video, I have to laugh.  I have done that same ride twice, on a DRZ with no problems. 
  Just don`t lose your sense of humor ..... or all will be lost.   Really looking forward to the story of going up the other side.
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Offline fat b

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #277 on: June 18, 2010, 08:59:16 am »
This is one of my favourite pieces of your trip !  :thumleft:

 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 #278 on: June 18, 2010, 09:19:00 am »
  After watching your video, I have to laugh.  I have done that same ride twice, on a DRZ with no problems. 
  Just don`t lose your sense of humor ..... or all will be lost.   Really looking forward to the story of going up the other side.

I'm glad we can be a source of amusement.  ;D  Keep on watching, there are more funny bits on the way.

I should admit that, at the time we were really tired and stressed. I enjoyed every minute of it but not without
being frightened as well. I suppose it will be easier to ride through there on a plastic with no luggage, laptop,
video cameras, stills cameras/lenses, tripods, Sack even carried a stove! and only a small amount of petrol but
that will take the challenge out of it and make the excursion less memorable. And we wouldn't have been able to
make you laugh.  :mwink:
 

Offline madmike999

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Re: Lesotho, the hard way.
« Reply #279 on: June 18, 2010, 09:28:19 am »
i humbly beg for only one  :mwink: copy of that DVD, hoeveel soek julle een?

asb oom groot asb
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