The trip was to start off by leaving Mount Currie nature reserve by 08h00 on the Friday morning; this made sense to some of us to spend the Thursday night at Mount Currie. Some were lucky and through work commitments could only make it on the Friday morning, Terry and Lyn were quite sharp and because they left home so late booked into a local B&B in Kokstad. This left Joop, Hennie and me to do the camping bit. It poured down, from about 5 minutes after we got the tents pitched, right through the night and into the morning. Mount Currie is a great little resort a few Kilometers outside Kokstad, the campsite is on the edge of a dam, the zebras roam freely through the camp and we were fortunate enough to witness a very frisky pair of hare’s doing what could have been a courting dance. We braaied under the cars awning, stood around because the chairs were wet and when we could stand no longer we went to bed.
By 08h30 we were on our way to Matatiele for our final fill up until we would reach Himeville a few days later. If ever you are in Matatiele, go to the butchery just around the corner from the BP garage for the finest Biltong in the Eastern Cape. Getting into Lesotho was no problem at all, the Lesotho officials were all very friendly and quite efficient, such a pity we could not say the same about the SA side. Our first stop was in only 2 or 3 kilometers where we simply could not pass the local off sales without stocking up on the local Maluti beer. It’s not brewed or sold in SA but it’s a great beer and should be taken in large quantities, especially on rainy evenings like we were to experience once more that evening. We stayed over at the Kings Holiday home, which is situated in the centre of the Sehlabatheba national park. Fortunately for our travellers there was no guests as some prefer to rather take refuge under a zinc roof than risk the elements outside. Terry, I must admit, did have the well- being of the few us who were braving the mountain kingdoms elements outside. At one stage Terry admitted to opening the front door to check up on us but found the cold night air too difficult to inhale and the chilly breeze touched his chest so he just quickly retraced his footsteps back to his sofa next to the blazing fire in the lounge.
Saturday morning we woke to the most awesome of mountainous mornings that we could ever have wished for. The sky was a deep blue and the clearest sky that I have ever seen. The contrast of the blue skies with the lush green mountain sides was breathtaking. Not for Terry though, he lost his the night before and was still looking for it!
The drive up to the peak of Matabeng pass at 3250m was an interesting one, but the road’s condition was reasonable and the going was fairly straight forward.
The lunch point at the bottom of Matabeng pass is one of the great stop over points in Lesotho, and if ever you are in the area, it’s certainly one of the best campsites ever. Shady poplar trees with a strong flowing river, you have everything you will ever need. The drive from the lunch stop point to the campsite is a fantastic one, on the one side you have the Senqu River meandering at the bottom of a mighty gorge and on the other side tall Majestic Mountains making up the true Mountain Kingdom.The campsite that evening, and much to the delight of Terry, because it didn’t rain, was in the banks of the Sani River and in the middle of nowhere. As Joop put it, we were camping wild and it was great. There were a few local youngsters that pitched up to watch us, but they are honestly not a problem, they are simply fascinated by what we have and what we do. There is no need to be abrupt or aggressive towards them, ask them to keep their distance and they do. The secret is to never give them anything at all. Promise them that when you leave in the morning they will be given whatever it is that you want to give them, left- over food, fire wood etc. The remainder of the trip to the Sani top again took us through some awesome mountain passes and scenery and the final 100kms took us around 4,5 hours which included stop overs every now and again.
The good news about the Sani top chalet is that it has changed hands and changes for the better are already noticeable.
The road from Sani top to Mokhotlong is already being ripped up by the Chinese and should be tarred the whole way by 2015. Construction work on the road from the Sani pass Hotel to the border post is due to get under way by May and should be completed by 2015. Tarring the Sani, who knows, let’s just hope that it never happens.