Lesotho (pronounced lee sue too) is a small country located within South Africa Many routes into Lesotho are only accessible by 4X4. They can be difficult to navigate, it’s a wise idea to hire someone who is used to driving in this area. We booked a trip into Lesotho through the Amphitheatre Backpackers where we were staying at in Bergville. There were four of us and our driver.
Beautiful Landscapes And Adorable Children
We soon drove out of Kwazulu Natal province and into the province of Free State where we would have access into Lesotho. We went through the township of Qwa Qwa. A Xhosa town of a million people. Most of the landscape was riddled with small brick houses of identical appearance. The houses were provided by the government so that people in this area could have proper shelter. The land and the house are given at no charge. The electricity and water have to be paid for on a monthly basis.
When we got to the border crossing of South Africa and Lesotho we had to show our passports and get a stamp from the South African side. We were told the Lesotho side was closed that day, therefore the South African side would take care of that stamp and paperwork as well. We have never heard of country’s border being closed before!
We were already quite high in elevation, but we soon started to drive much higher into the mountains. I believe the highest point we got to was somewhere between 2500 and 3000 metres. We passed through incredible scenery. The land looked so lush and fertile. What a beautiful country!
We stopped at a set of rectangular brick buildings and were informed it was the local school. We were very proud when we found out one of the schools was sponsored by Canada! The kids were still on summer holidays, they were to start school in a few days. Some of the children have over two hours walk in each direction to go to school each day.
The smile on this little girl’s face is enough to melt your heart.
We left the truck here and started a hike which would take us up to some San people paintings. There are many San or Bushmen paintings in Lesotho as well as parts of the Drakensberg. Other areas in Africa have them as well. Young children seemed to be popping up out of no where as we hiked along. They were following us with great curiosity. We soon had a huge entourage. They loved to have their picture taken and laughed hysterically when we would show them on the digital screen of our camera.
The San paintings in this area were disappointing, they had faded considerably from weather exposure. Despite some attempts to protect the images the children had drawn on many of them. We sat here perched up high on a clifftop and listened as the guide told us the history of Lesotho and the area. We really felt the heat and the altitude as we climbed up to this point. It was becoming more difficult to breathe as we moved. The guide climbed with great ease, and the children might as well have been small mountain goats. They practically ran up the cliffs.
We climbed back down to where the truck was and then drove through to another area. We passed some of the people’s homes. They had round mud huts and thatched roofs as we had seen many times before. It had to be at least 30C. They had their traditional thick wool blankets wrapped around them, and their woven tall cone hats. Everyone was very friendly, they waved and had big smiles as we drove past.
A Visit With The Sagoma (village doctor)
We came to the home of a Sagoma (natural doctor) We entered her house and sat crossed legged on the floor. We were amazed at how simple people live here and how little they possess. Our guide translated her story of how she became a Sagoma. We all said our names and where we were from. Australia, Canada, and England were the countries. She was confused and asked the guide how we all knew each other. It seemed strange to her that a group of people from around the world were together and had come to see her. The guide explained that we were all staying at a backpackers and had just met that day.
When we said our names and that we were from Canada, she stopped and started to talk quite fast and said many words to our guide. Then she repeated Canada in a very pronounced way quite a few times. The guide told us she really likes the word Canada and she thinks everything is very happy in our country. It was a good feeling to know that this women in the middle of no where had this perception of Canada.
A Taste Of Local Beer And Food
We then made our way to the local Shebeen. It’s basically a hut that is the local pub. They make a local beer, or at least that is what they call it. It is a lengthy process to make the beer from the locally grown maize (corn). The particular drink they make here does not have a high alcohol content, would take a lot to get intoxicated from it. It was really thick and didn’t have a pleasant taste, yuck!
On the way back to the hostel we stopped at a local home to try some traditional food. It was a meal of a vegetable resembling spinach and of course the national dish “pap” (maize porridge) It was actually quite tasty.