Around the world tripFree time

A nation that seized the time – Lesotho – Around the world trip days 23.1.2017 – 29.1.2017

Landscape in Lesotho.

This article is part of the series about around the world trip. Click to see all blogs from the around the world trip. You can subscribe the blog in Facebook here.

I tell about three excursion that I made in Drakensberg mountains close to Lesotho border. This is my last travelogue from around the world trip. The flight to Finland takes off 29.1.2017 from Johannesburg, South Africa. In upcoming posts I tell more about around the world trip as an experience.

Some of the picture are taken by Chris Hanson, who was doing the same excursions than me.

Four dots in South Africa from left onwards: Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Johannesburg. The whole route roughly: Finland - Australia - New Zealand - Argentina - Uruguay - Chile - Paraguay - Brazil - South Africa - Lesotho.
Four dots in South Africa from left onwards: Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Johannesburg. The whole route roughly: Finland – Australia – New Zealand – Argentina – Uruguay – Chile – Paraguay – Brazil – South Africa – Lesotho.

 

This time we cover the route in South Africa from Cape Town to Durban. The whole route in South Africa: Cape Town - Wilderness - Plettenberg Bay - Storms River - Port Elizabeth - Coffee Bay - Durban - Northern Drakensberg - Johannesburg.
This time we cover the route in South Africa from Cape Town to Durban. The whole route in South Africa: Cape Town – Wilderness – Plettenberg Bay – Storms River – Port Elizabeth – Coffee Bay – Durban – Northern Drakensberg – Johannesburg.

 

All of the last excursion were about two hours away from hostel which is the pin in the map. The red dots are in the same order from left than the chapters in this blog: Lesotho, Amphitheatre Peak and Cathedral Peak.
All of the last excursion were about two hours away from hostel which is the pin in the map. The red dots are in the same order from left than the chapters in this blog: Lesotho, Amphitheatre Peak and Cathedral Peak.

Lesotho – A country from the past

Lesotho is a country size of the Netherlands. It’s totally surrounded by South Africa.  The history of Lesotho dates back to early 19 hundreds when battles between tribes forced the nation to settle down to the area that was surrounded by mountains. Measured by the lowest point Lesotho is the highest country in the world with the minimum altitude of 1200 meters. [Told by a guide]

The conditions are more 19th than 21th century. Money is rarely used, walking is the main form of transportation and houses barely have anything but walls and roof. If children want to go to junior high school, it’s 2-hour walk on direction. I saw some pictures where local people catched rats to have some meat on the table.

The village is one intimate community. The people seems to be fairly happy even though the standard of living is low. They have a flag system that guarantees sufficient food supply for everyone. Red flag on the roof means that the houshold has over supply of food and white flag is a sign of shortage.

Lesotho starts from here. The passport check was made in a construction cabin not behind this view. Picture: Chris Hanson.
Lesotho starts from here. The passport check was made in a construction cabin not behind this view. Picture: Chris Hanson.

 

In Lesotho we met a healer who smokes herbs to connect with ancestors. The ancestors recommend a suitable treatment for the patient. In my hand I have a whisk made of cow's tail. With the whisk she expels bad spirits from the patient before starting the session. The nearest hospital is hours away.
In Lesotho we met a healer who smokes herbs to connect with ancestors. The ancestors recommend a suitable treatment for the patient. In my hand I have a whisk made of cow’s tail. With the whisk she expels bad spirits from the patient before starting the session. The nearest hospital is hours away.

 

Healer's herbs gave me some good vibes.
Healer’s herbs gave me some good vibes.

 

Landscape in Lesotho.
Landscape in Lesotho.

 

Amphitheatre hike – Climbing to the second highest waterfall of the world

Amphitheatre hike starts at the altitude of 2,5 kilometers and goes all the way up to 3,1 kilometers. The total length of the trail is 15 km. After the steep gulley at the end a wide open plateau opened in front of us. A small creek was flowing through the grass and rocks that turned in to the second highest waterfall (948 meters) in the world after reaching the edge of the mountain. The highest falls are in Venezuela, the Angel Falls (979 meters) [Wikipedia].

We came down from other side of the peak. Chain ladders were bolted into rock in two sections making 10-20 meter climbs possible. We didn’t have any harness.

Amphitheatre Peak from the beginning of the hike. From this angle the mountain seems almost impossible to climb.
Amphitheatre Peak from the beginning of the hike. From this angle the mountain seems almost impossible to climb.

 

Tugela falls are the second highest of the world. It is actually a cascade with five smaller falls.
Tugela falls are the second highest of the world. It is actually a cascade with five smaller falls.

 

Tugela. The top the waterfall is a pathetic creek as the width is at most couple of meters. Picture: Chris Hanson.
Tugela. The top the waterfall is a pathetic creek as the width is at most couple of meters. Picture: Chris Hanson.

 

Shepherds from Lesotho taking care of sheeps and goats at the plateau. Picture: Chris Hanson.
Shepherds from Lesotho taking care of sheeps and goats at the plateau. Picture: Chris Hanson.

 

A guard from Lesotho with an assault rifle on duty at the plateau. At least the safety catch seems to be on.
A guard from Lesotho on duty at the plateau. At least the safety catch seems to be on.

 

The first set of chain ladders to go down. Amphitheatre hike, Drakensberg, South Africa.
The first set of chain ladders to go down.

Cathedral Peak – The grand old man of all hikes

The last activity of my around the world trip was also the toughest. Goog way to end the journey.

Cathedral Peak hike is around 22 kilometers long and the elevation is almost 1,5 kilometers while the peak is at 3005 meters. Burning sun and loose rocks on the track gave challence of their own. You could simulate the excercise by going up and down stairs of a 5-floor building 100 times while wearing a thick jumper and roller skates – and having an additional nice and flat 20-kilometer walk in a forest.

The start point of Cathedral Peak hike was couple of kilometers ahead of this sign at a local hotel. The Cathedral Peak is the sharp on the right from the three high peaks. Picture: Chris Hanson.
The start point of Cathedral Peak hike was couple of kilometers ahead of this sign at a local hotel. The Cathedral Peak is the sharp on the right from the three high peaks. Picture: Chris Hanson.

We had two guides and three treckers: me, an Australian and a Yankee. The hike started with a river crossing. One of the guides didn’t seem to care too much about getting wet shoes. He simply walked accross the river and continued with his brand new Converses like nothing had happened.

Quite quickly it was obvious that the Yankee wasn’t in a good shape. He stopped and panted constantly. After just 500-meter flat section we started give he signals that he probably couldn’t make it to the top. He kept telling that is was about thin air because he was living on the sea level. Like repeating this messages would help him to get further. Finally we agreed with the Aussie that me and him continue faster with one of the guides.

It was possible to fill the drinking bottle in two different becks on the way. Cathedral Peak hike.
It was possible to fill the drinking bottle in two different becks on the way.

 

Views from hike halfway. The starting point is at the center of the picture. At this point we had went up only 500 meters. Picture: Chris Hanson.
Views from hike halfway. The starting point is at the center of the picture. At this point we had went up only 500 meters. Picture: Chris Hanson.

 

The Cathedral Peak from halfway. Picture: Chris Hanson.
The Cathedral Peak from halfway. Picture: Chris Hanson.

Climbing up took more than four hours. We couldn’t go up the last peak as it was too slippery after a rain according to our guide. He told that people have even been died after slipping from the slope that seems impossible to climb even when dry. After a lunch break on the heights we made our way back down in around three hours. At the very end I felt how my thighs were smashed and head was screaming for rest after hot and physically heavy day. But the important thing is, I did it.

The last 100 meters was too dangerous to climb when the cliff was wet. It wasn't too safe even when dry as the guid would have to climb first without safety equipment to throw a rope for others. Accroding to the guide there has been multiple deadly accidents on the mountain. Picture: Chrhis Hanson.
The last section was too dangerous to climb when the cliff was wet. It wasn’t too safe even when dry as the guide would have to climb first without safety equipment to throw a rope for others. Accroding to the guide there has been multiple deadly accidents on the mountain. Picture: Chris Hanson.

 

A panorama from the highest place. The starting point is the small white dot at the end of the big ridge that goes to up right from the center of the picture.
A panorama from the highest place. The starting point is the small white dot at the end of the big ridge that goes to up right from the center of the picture.

 

The highest safe point to climb was almost 3 kilometers high. The starting point is next to the left hand elbow. This was very good place to have the lunch.
The highest safe point to climb was at almost 3 kilometers high. The starting point is next to my left hand elbow. This was very good place to have the lunch.

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