Wednesday, 25 June 2008

22nd June 08

Date: 22nd June 08
Location: Sehlabathebe, Lesotho
Weather: Clear blue skies, really cold though 12°c in the day and 0°c night time
Status: New team moving along well now!

Left the backpackers around 7.30am and made our way out and onto the gravel road which led us up to the bottom of the famous Sani Pass, we could see as we neared the base of the climb the snow and ice which would greet us at the top.

Pulled into the South African border post and were stamped out of the country before passing through the fencing and onto the steeply rising track. It’s a mixture of solid rock, loose gravel, streams running over the route and towards the top thick snow with an ice bottom coupled with an upward slope of about 1:4!

The bottom of the rise was easy enough we passed another couple of vehicles coming down and they said that the top part was still in the shade, frozen and ‘interesting’ to say the least, awesome.

The South African traffic law states that only 4WD vehicles are allowed onto this road and as we neared the whiter section of the climb at about 2700m above sea level, you could clearly see why! A group of 4 motorbikes were pulled up at the edge of the road with the riders discussing the path and the problems they were having getting to the summit but they confidently said “you have no problems getting up!”

It was awesome seeing the road winding and snaking up above us with the border post into Lesotho just visible on the horizon, I locked the diffs in, selected the low range box and started the climb. We passed frozen waterfalls, streams that had set solid over the track and snow drifts which extended into our path.

The Colonel’s new tyres certainly helped as we slipped then gripped our way up the pass and it wasn’t too long before we reached the summit and the Lesotho border so made our way to the cold looking office for our passports to be stamped. Just over the road from immigration is the Sani Pass Lodge, Africa’s highest Pub) where we headed to for a Gluvein (almost exactly the same as mulled wine in the UK) and a selection of cold meats and pates for lunch eaten on the benches outside overlooking the pass from above and it was good to see where we’d just come up from!

We decided we’d like to spend a day or so in Lesotho and found on the map a lodge to the south, what we thought would be a half days drive away, enough time to get there in the light and settle in with a beer….or so we thought!

Lesotho is known as the Mountain Kingdom, and for good reason, as far as the eye could see from the Lodge (which is virtually positioned on the highest peak in Southern Africa) were mountains, some covered in snow with other lower peaks just covered at the tip, small thatched rondavels dotted the lower slopes with mountain roads winding their way between them.

After 5 hours of climbing and dropping through and over these tracks the sun started to drop out of the sky and the temperature fell accordingly with ice starting to form on the roads, so it was good to see the entrance to our destination in the glare of the headlights.

The girls checked into the dorm which had fantastic double beds and thick duvets together with traditional Lesotho blankets……and I made my way to the tent, my winter sleeping bag ready for a cold night!

End of day location: Sehlabathebe, Lesotho
Distance covered: 157kms

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