Category Archives: Lesotho

Heading West and By the Numbers

A four hour train ride took us from Pamplona to Madrid.  We got lost in the mesmerizing landscape grinning every time a small village with white stone buildings entered the scene.  Lush were the hillsides and fields of agriculture.

We walked by the Atocha Station a couple of times while in Madrid but discovered a lush garden inside after departing the train.It was an easy listless day – train and then a taxi to the hotel near the airport for our flight back to the USA the following morning.

It was an eight and a half hour flight to Newark where we were to have a quick layover and be one our way to Charlotte.  Upon landing lightening crashed in around us and the plane stood still on the tarmac as the airport closed.  An omen.  A half hour later the plane was cleared to head to the gate.

Unbeknownst to us the airline industry and particularly United was in melt down mode.  It was utter chaos. Cancelled flights and stranded people.  Our connecting flight to Charlotte a victim.

It was 5:00 pm.  A United agent told us it would be days before any  seats would be available. “Check online.” The internet confirmed the worst.

We had places to be!  The following day was our grandson’s first birthday and our son had taken time off of work – we didn’t have days…. who has days???

Quick change of plans – we rented a car and headed to Charlotte driving until dark.  It was 1:30 am Madrid time by the time we stopped for the night somewhere in Maryland.

We arrived at our destination 21 hours late but in time to celebrate.

We visited family, broke bread, raced cars and played with our grand babies. 

United continued its melt down and we feared we’d not make it home to Nevada as scheduled.  It all worked out – both flights harmoniously were delayed and we made it home.Now we shift through months of mail, dust off the house and get ready for summer.  We head out again in 8 days.

Our trip by the numbers:

13 flights, 1 cruise ship, a few boat rides, multiple trains, lots of car rides,  one tram – 34 beds and 18 Countries: South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Madagascar, Comoros, French Comoros, Seychelles, Omán, EAU, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Spain.

I wore everything that I packed, left one shirt (on purpose) and threw out 2 that I ruined.  I way overpacked even though we just had carry on.  Another lesson learned (again).  Way less is even more!

Thanks for following along!


More Photos of Lesotho

Photos were taken through the window, out the window, me sitting in the window – legs in body out (the police had a grin when they drove by), through the sunroof and pulled over and out of the car.

Boys go through an initiation to become a man and they paint their animals and face as part of the process.
Oh, their hats…

We visited a yarn manufacturing store.  The owner teaches disabled people (all women but one man) how to make item yarn so that they have a skill.

Lesotho – The Kingdom in the Sky

Our new driver arrived as the sun started to kiss the morning with a stunning display of pink, yellow and baby blue. It was 6:00 am. The sweet receptionist made us a road trip bag with an egg, cheese and tomato sandwich, fruit drink and an apple.

Today we head to the country of Lesotho (sounds like Lay-sue-to) surrounded by South Africa. They too have a king but unlike Eswatini he is a hood ornament and the Prime Minister is the head of government. The country gained its full independence from British rule in 1966.

The first King Moshoeshoe from the early 1800’s had 144 wives! The cuenta king has one.

Lesotho has the highest mountains in Southern Africa and it’s lowest elevation of 4,593’ is the highest low point of any country in the world. Say what?

Normally I am very unsettled when riding on roads with steep drop-offs but having seen photos of the Sani Pass I was all about it! Bill was shocked!

Per Wikipedia: The route up Sani Pass starts at 1,544 metres (5,066 ft), and climbs 1,332 m (4,370 ft) to an altitude of 2,876 m (9,436 ft).

*click on photos to enlarge 

It requires a 4×4 as the road is unpaved, rocky and full of switchbacks. The South African border is near the bottom of the pass then a 5 mile drive through no-mans-land got us to the Lesotho border at the top. It took us an hour. The mountains look like velvet blanketed by the morning sun. Jaw dropping and stunning.

We were so lucky to have navigated the whole pass without coming in contact with another vehicle.

Top of the pass:

We passed a winter ski area and the beginnings of a large dam (a 3 Gorges scale) and literally hundreds of shepherds with their small flocks of cattle, Marino sheep or Angora goats.

We continued on another four plus hours to the Maliba Lodge in the Tsehlanyane National Park where we got to lounge for two nights. A welcome break from all the drive time.

View from our room.

A new driver and his apprentice picked us up in the morning and we headed out to explore the countryside. It’s incredible. The green undulating mountains are endless.

Rural life is tough. Homes are small and made of stone or cement mostly with no running water and power. They are lucky to own a donkey or horse for transportation otherwise they get around on foot or by taxi or small van busses.

This is not true of the whole country. Suburban areas have better access to utilities and perhaps 20% own cars.

Tiny buildings (shacks) have tall poles with colored plastic bags waving in the wind displaying what they have for sale that day. White means beer (locally made and super strong) and bread, green means vegetables and red means meat.

School children can walk upwards of two plus hours to get to school. Whizzing down the road is more frightening than the Sani Pass. We come within inches of school children, walkers or head boys (Shepards) with flocks of sheep or herds of cattle who all casually take up their fair share of the road space.

The mountains ooze water making them glisten like diamonds. Speaking of diamonds. Lesotho is a leading producer of diamonds in the world and sets a record for having the highest diamond mine in the world.

We took a small hike down to see the Kome Caves. Built in 1824. There are 6 separate single room caves in the side of the mountain insulated with mud and cow dung. We were told that the original families used these to hide from the cannibals. One descendent still lives in one of the caves. We met her on her way back from a long steep hike to buy paraffin wax so that she could heat her dinner. There is no power and water dripping off of the overhanging cliff is collected in a barrel. Lucky outdoor bathrooms were recently installed since this has become a tourist destination.

We stayed one night in the capital city of Maseru arriving in time for dinner where we were the only people at the hotel restaurant.

Workers leaving the city create bumper to bumper traffic lasting for hours. It was crazy watching the madness as the cars and walkers managed intersections. Chaos!

The road to Semonkong was like driving a rollercoaster with a slow click, click, click to reach the high peaks and the thrill of dropping and turning as we made our way to the Maletsunyane Falls. The 670 feet drop next to the falls has a spot in the Guinness World Record book for having the longest commercially operated single-drop rappel in the world.

Lesotho is not on the world’s tourism radar and they are taking baby steps to change that. It’s so low that can go through immigration at the border faster than getting a hamburger at McDonalds.

I highly recommend to anyone going to see South Africa that you take a few days to explore this magnificent country. The scenery is like no other.