Saturday, 13 October 2012

Drakensberg and Lesotho Part 3

Time for part 3 of our Drakensberg and Lesotho Adventures. Sorry it has taken me a while to write this one, but Uni assignments and more travelling have got in the way. But it's a rainy and cloudy day here in Joburg, the perfect blog writing weather.

If you missed part 2 of our adventure you can read it here, and if you missed part 1, catch it here.

So after our crazy adventures up and down a mountain in one day, we decided that today we would be a little more relaxed and venture into Lesotho. For those who don't know, Lesotho is a country within South Africa, much like A.C.T is in New South Wales... but Lesotho is a bit more exciting than Canberra.

We once again had to drive a few hours to reach our destination, through townships, around mountains and along bumpy roads. But after about two hours we reached the border of South Africa and Lesotho, popped out our passports, got a stamp and onward we drove into another country. 

It was amazing to see the different a simple border can have on a country. Once we reached the actual border of Lesotho, there was no checkpoint (there used to be but it got damaged), the roads were unpaved and very muddy, there were no street signs or robots (traffic lights). It was crazy that a five minute drive back the other way would see you in South Africa, to paved roads, streets signs, houses and all the things in modern society. 

However, although Lesotho didn't seem to be as 'developed' as South Africa, it was an incredibly beautiful country. It is a country that is surrounded by mountains. Everywhere you look you see these lovely mountains, some snowcapped, some grassy but all of them beautiful. A little fun fact is that Lesotho the highest country in the world because its lowest point is about 1300m, the highest low point of any country in the world.  

Our first stop was to see a local school that has been receiving funds from the Backpackers we were staying at, the Amphitheatre Backpackers. We were given the low-down about Lesotho by a teacher that works at the school. He informed us that the people of Lesotho are not called Lesothians but indeed Basothos or Basutos, and that the language that is spoken is not Lesotho but Sesotho. As you can see all these words contain the word 'Sotho', which means high in Sesotho, which is fitting for the highest country in the world.

Cows having a graze..
Once we had been shown the school and learned a bit about Lesotho, we headed on a stroll which turned into a little bit of a hike through the forests and hills of this beautiful country. It was a beautiful day for a walk, with only the wind being the only downer for the whole day. The sun was shining and there was barely a cloud in the sky and you really felt that you were in a different country. The people looked different, spoke a different language and had a different way of life to people just a stone's throw away in South Africa. Lesotho is a very agriculture country (from what we saw), where farmers tend their cattle and crops, wearing big woolly blankets to keep the strong winds out.

The girls, with the beautiful scenery in the background
After our little stroll through Lesotho, we stopped off to eat our packed lunch on the top of a little hill looking out onto the mountains and fields, watching farms gathering their animals or simply tending to their homes. Then we keep walking, heading back to where we had started our walk from. On the way back, we stopped to look at some rock art that had been left by the native people of Lesotho, the San people. It was quite faded and dilapidated and hadn't really been looked after like it should have been. Nonetheless, it was still interesting to see some rock art, although it wasn't quite similar or as old to the rock art we have back at home, it was still cool to see!   

Lesotho yo!
Our next stop was to find a house that had a white flag out the front. This wasn't a sign of surrender but a sign to say that we would go into the house and taste some local beer. It was very similar to beer that we tasted on the first day of our adventure, made out of maize and brown sugar, with very little alcohol. It was pretty yummy, although the after-taste was a little bit dodgy. It was awesome to be able to go into a person's house and be welcomed in even though we were complete strangers. It's something that just doesn't really happen at home and it is so refreshing to meet new people and be able to see how they live without feeling that you are intruding on their everyday life. 

White flag means free beer!

Our last stop in Lesotho was to visit a Sangoma, much like we did on the first day of our adventure. We visited her in her home which was a little round house. Here, she told us the story of how she became a Sangoma and what a Sangoma does. Unfortunately we were short on time as the border into South Africa closes at 5pm so we could only spend about 15 minutes with the Sangoma. Nonetheless, the story she had to tell was extremely interesting and much like the one of the previous Sangoma we met on our first day in Drakensberg. It is funny to think, or perhaps not, that the story of how one becomes a Sangoma is so similar despite the fact that they are from different countries, different cultures and speak different languages. I guess that borders really are only superficial barriers for people, but ideas, beliefs and cultural traditions are able to break down those barriers, bringing people and cultures together.

The Sangoma in Lesotho
After we had visited the Sangoma it was time to unfortunately leave this beautiful country and head back into South Africa. Driving past the beautiful mountains and rolling fields, we hit the bitumen road that told us we were nearing the border back into SA. It had been a lovely day, and although we were all exhausted for 3 very full-on days, we were still sad to leave this glorious country behind us and to head back into 'modern' South Africa. Lesotho was a place that I was definitely glad that we visited because it gave such an enormous juxtaposition about how people can lives such different lives so close to one another. On one side of the border you had bitumen roads, traffic lights, houses with electricity and not a cow in sight, but drive for 5 minutes through a border and across a hill and boom, the scenery was completely different. It was as rural as you could get, and there a definite sense of calm about the whole country. It was almost as if the mountains that encapsulate Lesotho have been able to keep away the chaos that can occur just across the border. 

Welcome back to South Africa

But back across the border we went and into the sometimes chaotic South Africa we ventured. This time we had to make the long drive all the way back to Johannesburg and Monash Uni, because yes, I sometimes have to attend class! After about 5 hours of driving we made it back to the Sig (Ruimsig) and back to the lovely world of Monash. What an incredible weekend we 5 girls had! It really has been such a highlight for my time here so far in South Africa.

I hope you've enjoyed reading about our little adventure in Drakensberg and Lesotho. I have really enjoyed writing about it!

Hope everyone is going great wherever you are reading this from in the world!



  1. amazing blog lib....the world certainly is a special place with so much to see!!

  2. I know Kezzy, the world is so big! Thanks for reading my blog! I'm glad you liked it!