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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.