Saturday, December 29, 2007

On top of the African world

After a rather uneventful night in Roma at the Trading Post Guest House , where we dined local-style at a chicken 'n chips eatery, we drove the northern circumference of Lesotho for the better part of the day.

We went through Maseru, Teyateyaneng (place of quicksands), Leribe (a famous market hub), Butha-Buthe (Lesotho's 2nd largest town), Oxbow (equipped with a ski lift and slopes - in winter), Mokhotlong (the 'wild west' of Lesotho and the source of the Orange/Senqu River).

Passing some more stunning scenery and mountain passes, it gets fairly chilly up on top but we made good use of the Basotho blanket we had purchased earlier on.

Lesotho's trademark blanket is a thick, fireproof, square-shaped heavy material providing insulation in the heat and cold.

Draped around one's body, it is seen as a symbol of status and first introduced by European traders.

With a variety of colours and patterns, it is a common sight to see people walking wrapped up in their blanket.

We bought the maize cob pattern, a symbol of fertility. In truth, it was the only one with the colours we liked.

See pic of us sharing the blanket at the top of Sani Mountain.

We eventually winded our way up to our day's destination: Sani Top Chalet. See pic of the entrace, clouds hovering in mid-air!

Famous for being "the highest pub in Africa" (see pic of Anice sitting at the bar), we had a quick drink and headed straight to bed in the dormitories.

The next morning we embarked on a 9-hour hike to Africa's highest peak after Kilimanjaro : Mount Thabana- Ntlenyana.

At 3482 m, it is an arduous hike, requiring us to cross several valleys, rivers and finally, a gradual climb up rocky mountain terrain.

See Matt pointing to our destination with his walking stick.

It is advised that you take a local guide on the hike; a few years ago, a group of German tourists decided to navigate the course themselves and almost ended up spending the night on the mountain!

We had Adolf as our guide, a local shepherd who also leads tourists up the mountain for extra income.

Wearing simple rubber boots, a baseball cap and of course, his blanket, he kept up a constant pace for us to follow.

He was a man of few words, but then again, we were too busy huffing and puffing uphill to contribute to much intelligent conversation.

See pic of us and Adolf taking a break on the hillside.

Just as we were nearing the summit, dense fog rolled in, significantly dropping the temperature.

See pics of us walking into a big wall of cloud, dragging our tired legs for the last few hundred metres.

At the top, there wasn't much to see due to the fog.

See Anice taking a picture of the foggy view.

Nevertheless, we celebrated by eating our lunch behind a pile of rocks to ward off the strong wind.

Our descent back to the car only took 4 hours and we were back at the Chalet in time for a hot meal.

See pic of me very happy to see the car!

It was definitely one of the toughest hikes i've ever done but they don't come more satisfying than that. I don't need to mention we slept like babies that night :)

1 comment:

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