Headed North Again

Trip Start Jan 17, 2006
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Flag of South Africa  ,
Wednesday, September 6, 2006

Hey Everyone,

After a bit more than a week in the great "Mountain Kingdom" of Lesotho I am back in South Africa.

My time in Lesotho was great. I started in the capital(Maseru) and headed to Semonkong where there was a large waterfall (2nd tallest in Southern Africa) and supposedly good trekking. Unfortunately when I arrived the temps were in the teens for two straight days so I bagged the trekking idea! The place was really quiet and except for another American guy, Lewis from D.C. who just finished the Peace Corps in Zambia for 2 years, there was no other non-locals there. I decided that since I couldn't see Lesotho by foot i would have to do it by bus (a significant undertaking). Lewis decided it was a good idea and we left together an traveled back to Maseru, then camped there with our (by then) friends the Thorns from Roma. The next day we took a mini-taxi from Roma to Maseru, another from Maseru to Mupotosoe, Mupotosoe to Butha Buthe, then Butha Buthe to Mohotlong! It was a long day! We bargained for a couple cheapo beds at a local place and took a bus the next day from Mohotlong to Sani Pass.

Sani Pass is a really spectacular place where the road is over 9,000 feet. It is the most rugged border post between South Africa and Lesotho and was a famous smuggling place for opposition leaders during South Africa's Aparteid. We decided the weather had gotten warmer ( it hadn't but the bus rides made anything else seem really really wonderful!) We trekked for a couple days and saw some crazy birds and animals. Unfortunately we came to a huge canyon (it felt very Lewis and Clark-like with our crappy map) and decided we must turn around and head back to the pass the next day. We got up early and luckily we caught a taxi down the pass and were in quite sleepy Underburg, South Africa that same night.

It felt weird coming back into South Africa. The tension in this country is very real and instantly our interactions with people changed. In Lesotho I found the people to be extremely friendly, helpful and kind despite extreme poverty. In Underburg we were met with paved roads, nice supermarkets, and lots of resentment.

Although I wouldn't recommend it in the winter-time (now), Lesotho is a great country which i would say is a must see in Southern Africa.

We took more mini-taxis from Underburg and eventually got to Durban yesterday in time to see off some Japanese friends i had met earlier in my trip. They left this morning on a 10 day ship ride from Durban, South Africa to Rio de Janiero. We had fun last night going over must-see places of both continents.

I think I will be here for one more day as I try to gather some people to rent a car with for a national park i want to see north of here.

Hope you are all doing well.

-Pete

P.S. Also... after re-reading this I feel I should explain the meaning of "mini-taxi" or "mini bus-taxi" or "taxi". They have a different meaning in Africa than in other countries. Here it means a VW bus (newer version called "combi" all over the world). They might hold 6 people in the states or Europe. Here they are the only cheap mode of transportation for the masses... they leave only when full... full is 17 people including the driver. I have to sit with my big back-pack on my lap. Needless to say getting in and out is an interesting experiment. I love it.
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