Sani Pass

Wednesday 22 November2017

Up early and my taxi was here for 6am.

I’m going to Lesotho for the day!

The roads were surprisingly busy – and lots of people out for a run.

We drove in the city centre of Durban to pick up a few other people. Rather unexciting. Lots of straight roads. The old court house and natural history museum were pretty buildings, next to a park. Lots of people just hanging around. Despite being very early.

Then, out of the city. Into the countryside.

After an hour and a half or so, we were into the mountains. The beginning of the drakensburg mountains. Small villages dotted around.

It took 3 hours to reach the small town of Himeville. Just past another small down of Underberg.

Here we switched into a different car. A 4×4, as these are the only type of vehicles allowed up into the Sani pass, to Lesotho.

The road is unpaved. But they are starting to pave it. Our guide thought this was a big shame, as it takes the adventure out of the journey upwards.

We went up and up and up. Through the winding roads. It was really pretty. Lots of plants – and loads of protea (the national flower).

Part of the way up, we stamped out of South Africa. Then it took about an hour before we reached the top and the Lesotho border post. Although we did stop for lots of photos along the way.

As soon as we were in Lesotho, back onto a paved road!

Ive heard lots of pronunciations of Lesotho. With some very odd ones the last time I was travelling in Africa. The correct way is apparently Les-Oh-Two.

We drove for a while, in the direction of the town of Mokhotlong. But we didn’t go that far. Just to the next pass – the black mountain. Which is the highest point.

Then back down again, through the fields of sheep farming, to a Basotho village. Apart from the small village, the landscape was bare. And it was incredibly windy.

The village was made up of about 20 huts. The huts are made from stones and stuck together with cow dung.

We went inside one of the huts. It was smoky from the small fire in the middle of the room, with a pot on it. Cooking bread.

The huts have underfloor heating. They have air passageways under the house, the middle fire is on a large stone. Apparently this helps keep the hut warm. It can reach minus 13 degrees in the winter!

Bread and freshly brewed beer seem to be the local staple. Even the cats were eating the bread. They are largely famers. Farming their sheep for wool, which they sell to South Africa.

There is no school. Children are sent away to the larger town for the term and return only for holidays.

Once we came out of the hut, most of the village had come out to sing for us. And each of them carried a tin can. For money. All rather uncomfortable.

For lunch, we stopped off at the highest pub in Africa. They didn’t serve anything vegan. So I didn’t eat. Instead, watched the clouds coming in from the mountains and completely surrounding us. Swirling around in clumps.

When we came to head back down, around 2.30pm, it was raining. And rained the whole journey.

We swapped over drivers and cars again in Underburg. Stopped at a cafe for some tea. I’m kind of annoyed to only just realise that everywhere in South Africa seems to serve chai. And it’s amazing. They even had rice milk.

The 3 hour drive back to Durban dragged. And was pretty scary. For large parts of the journey the cloud/fog was so thick that we could barely see a few meters ahead.

Even once we hit the motorway, the rain and the spray were so dense that it was hard to see anything at all. We passed lots of accidents. Pretty scary.

We finally arrived back just after 7pm. Long day.

Then I found out that we have no power! Luckily I managed to charge my phone a bit using an external battery pack. So enough power for an alarm and ability to get an uber in the morning!

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