Archive for Off the beaten path

Taking a holiday cycle

Sani Pass Lesotho Mountain Biking

Detour Trails offers a tough three-day trip up Sani Pass and into Lesotho which will test the legs and skills of experienced mountain bikers. Picture: Sarah Sawers

Mountain bikers love the end-of-year holidays. First, Christmas gives riders the excuse to buy themselves a glut of gizmos to bling out their bikes – and maybe that 13th cheque can even stretch to buy a new ultra-light, carbon-fibre, dual-suspension 650B with the latest 1×11 gearing system.

But more important, December also means a chance to take annual leave, which any self-respecting cycling fanatic knows translates to some time for a relatively guilt-free opportunity to head out on the trails. Read more

Donkeys, Drag and Double Tapers, Trout Trekking in Lesotho

TOURETTE-Logo-FA-stackNight4-200x300You could be mistaken for thinking that this articles title was stolen from one of Amsterdams infamous red light district theatre productions, but you would be sorely wrong.

There is however one similarity when trekking the remote wilderness of Lesotho and the streets of Amsterdam, and that is the local’s choice in tobacco products.  This however is where the similarities end.  If the altitude in Lesotho was not enough to get you ‘high’ so to speak, then the world class sight fishing would definitely push you over the edge. It most certainly did for me. Read more

Nissan X-Trail conquers Epic Adventure around Lesotho

In a series of events which can only described as an epic adventure, Nissan’s X-Trail has conquered a mammoth driving route around the Lesotho border in two tough and exciting days – the Nissan X-Trail Epic Adventure: Once Around Lesotho.

Excellent fuel economy achieved

With two vastly different driving teams taking care of the two X-Trail 2.0 dCi XE 4×2 six-speed manual models prepared for the Epic, the compact SUV’s fuel efficiency was put to the ultimate test under real world conditions – ranging from smooth sailing on national roads to muddy mountain passes which fell victim to excessive snowfall in the Eastern Cape earlier in August.

Excellent fuel economy achieved under real-world conditions

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The AfriSki 2012 ski season is declared open!

Pudi Kids Ski mascot at Afriski Lesotho

Pudi the mountain goat

Winter is in full swing at Afriski. In spite of a unusually late start to winter the Afriski snowmakers have been hard at work and have made lots of snow using the recently upgraded snow making system which means that the ski slopes are open and the snow fun has begun. To date the Maluti highlands have enjoyed one good snowfall on the 9th and 24thof June. To ensure that everyone gets the most out of their ski or snowboard experience, Afriski have also added a new button lift and extended the intermediate slope guaranteeing skiing even during high winds and heavy snowfalls. Read more

Get Lost in Lesotho – Maliba Road Trip

Get Lost in Lesotho..

‘We need to promote Lesotho as a whole – as its own destination.’ These were the words of my wife who is the marketing manager for Maliba Mountain Lodge, a 5 star lodge in the mountains of Lesotho. She was referring to the fact that Lesotho is one of the lesser known destinations on the tourism map – even for us South Africans. It is generally seen as a country which is hard to get to – as a place more suited to those looking for a hard core adventure with their rugged off road vehicles.

We therefore decided to set out on a road trip ourselves, to see the highlights of the country, and to determine the accessibility of this small, mountainous kingdom. To gain first-hand experience – as a group of young South Africans, with little time between work days for travelling– of the people and their cultures, the landscape and perhaps to learn a bit about the country and its history. At the same time, to film the entire adventure to try and capture some of the spirit and culture of the country and its people.

Our goal, as a group of five friends, was to travel over four days into the easily accessible parts of the country, without the need for serious back up and support. Read more

Liquid gold – Water sports in Lesotho

The Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho is a land of vast treasures, ranging from picturesque views, diamonds, fauna and flora, the friendliness of its people and last but not least, water!

Indeed Lesotho has an abundance of water many countries in Africa could only dream of, which has made it not only famous but provided it with much needed revenue. Pristine mountain streams home to wild trout, tumble and gurgle their way into rivers and a number of man-made dams before flowing down into South Africa. Lesotho’s many beautiful rivers, dams and tourism infrastructure associated with the Lesotho Highlands Water Project present opportunities for water activities such as fresh-water fishing, white water rapids boating, kayaking, canoeing and small boat sailing which only adds to the variety of sports / activities available in Lesotho.

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Bird Watching In Lesotho

Birding in Lesotho will come as a fascinating and surprising entertainment for all the bird lovers as well as ordinary tourists from all over the world, who will be able to view its astonishing variety and beauty first hand.

the Fairy flycatcher sitting on a branch

Fairy flycatcher - Photo Johann Grobbelaar

Lesotho is shelters an impressive number of species of birds. Over 300 varieties have been recorded in the country and vary from residents, that stay all year around, to breeding birds, that spend a good part of the growing season in Lesotho to raise their young, migrants who pass through Lesotho with the seasons, to wintering birds who like to spend a the winter in Lesotho to escape even colder conditions up north. However, many species of birds are relatively common as they are part of the ecosystems of the country.

The Lesotho Drakensberg and Maluti are among the most sought after by bird watchers who come for Birding in Lesotho. You will be bowled out by the sheer variety and number of these colorful birds, some of which are extremely rare. The birds can be seen in the natural parks in the region, with its well known avifauna, as well in isolated spots which host a variety of fauna of Lesotho. Read more

Basotho horse racing in Lesotho

The first thing I notice is the hats. This is not Ascot, so there are no ladies in ostrich feathers, but a ragged crowd of men wearing everything from gumboots and jeans to big patterned blankets. We’re gathered along a track curving through stubbly fields, with a hazy backdrop of blue mountains. It’s a big race day at the Morija cultural festival, so you might expect the headgear of choice to be the Basotho hat, the woven cone traditionally favoured by herders (and adapted as lampshades in tourist lodges). But I can see only one man in a 150-strong crowd wearing a Basotho hat, and I think he’s doing it ironically. It certainly doesn’t match his T-shirt and jeans.

Basotho jockey complete with traditional blanket , cowboy boots & helmet - Photo by Di Jones

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The complete African snow experience at AfriSki

Yes, it snows in Africa, and in 2011 it snowed a lot ! It is also a little known fact that people have been skiing in various Southern African mountain ranges since 1929. One of the most ideally  suited locations are the Maluti mountains in the Kingdom of Lesotho. Not far from Clarens lies the Mahlasela Pass and the location of the Afriski – Ski & Mountain Resort.

A lot has changed since 1929 and the introduction of modern snow making facilities and lifts to Afriski in 2002 have allowed skiing and snowboarding to flourish in this little know corner of the Lesotho Mountain Kingdom.

panorama of the AfriSki resort in Lesotho, Southern Africa

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Lesotho Trout – Unpredictable and challenging fishing

Fly fishing rod and netAlong the entire length of the pool, fish dimpled the surface. In the riffle water, subtle rises, apart from a mere flattening and silvering of the surface, were barely discernable. On the far side of the stream beyond the current, a perfect reflection of the new day shimmered and broke as a large tail creased the surface.

Twenty minutes trickled by revealing little of the cycle happening below. I relented, attaching a small Baetid emerger not far beneath a sparsely tied Klinkhamer. Stifling a sudden gasp, the cold water reinforced that I was closer to the stratosphere than I had ever previously cared to venture.

I took great pleasure in noting that – as lightly as a broken spider web riding a morning breeze – each cast landed where it ought to.  The fish continued to rise with purposeful bearing. As the sun rose higher, shadows of several feeding fish became obvious and although a fewer smaller feisty freestone rainbows accepted my offerings, it was clearly apparent that I had not yet unravelled the mystery below the riffled surface. Several fly changes, lengthening and down-sizing of leader found me none the wiser. I began to chuckle and it was then that I realized that it was moments like these which, to me, define the very essence of why I fly fish. Deciding it was time to sit back and reflect and more importantly, check if my toes were still intact, I began to reel in. Not far upstream, a good fish showed. A quick flick and a mend covered the rise nicely. Read more

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