Trek

Pictures from Malealea and the trek

September 27 Malealea to Ribaneng

September 28 Ribaneng to Ketane

September 29 Ketane to Sekoting

September 30 Sekoting to Malealea

Welcome to Lesotho

Our trucks went over the 2000-metre Gate of Paradise Pass on the way to Malealea, and this was our first view of the area where we would be spending our next few days. In the foreground was the valley of the Makheleng River with cultivated fields all around, and in the background were the distant Drakensberg mountains with a fresh coat of early-spring snow.

Trek map

We started our trek at Malealea Lodge, which organizes pony treks into the mountains of southern Lesotho. Our trip was to be four days and three nights of hiking over high passes and through remote roadless Basotho villages in the Thaba Putsoa range. The lodge has a map depicting their standard pony-trekking routes on one wall.

Malealea rondavel

We stayed in this rondavel at Malealea the night before we left for the trek. Its round shape and conical thatched roof was modelled after the residences of the people of rural Lesotho.

River crossing

On the first day we started by crossing the relatively flat valley, then we had to drop down and cross the Makheleng River before starting the climb to Ribaneng village.

Rough mountains

On the following days we crossed at least one pass each day, and sometimes more. Some of the terrain was quite rough, like this, and the trails were steep and rocky.

Smooth mountains

At other times the terrain was rolling, and we walked along well-used earth trails that followed the contour lines. In this kind of terrain we could almost always see villages or cultivation.

Sunset

We had sunny days and cold nights for the whole trek, getting warmer towards the end. There were a few clouds one evening, but no rain or snow at any time.

Spiral aloe

The highlands of Lesotho are not a place with brightly-coloured flowers; most of the flowers are small and pale. On the third day we passed by a clump of spiral aloes. These endangered plants only grow at high elevations in Lesotho, and if planted in the lowlands will soon die of fungal disease. But people still collect them and try to sell them at the side of the road.

People

Almost everywhere we went on our trek there were people. Small children ran out from every village to shout "Hi! Bye!" at us, and we often saw older children standing on a hill watching their animals or gathering wood for fires. There were some adults, but young men were almost entirely absent, being away working at low-paying jobs in larger centres. Almost all women and girls wore dresses and sandals or running shoes, and the standard dress for men and boys was shirt, trousers, Basotho blanket, and rubber boots.

Village

The villages we passed were all quite well-kept. The rondevals are usually for living in, and the rectangular buildings with the flat roofs are community buildings for meetings, storage, and the like.

Bivouac

Away from the villages, often on the top of a ridge, we often saw corrals like this one. We never saw them in use, but we guessed they were places where herders could stay overnight with their animals.

Nurse pony

Our trip was supported by local guides and ponies, which carried most of our equipment. We only carried day packs while we were hiking. The other function of the ponies was to carry people who were feeling unwell.

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