Updated: Jan 9
New Year’s Eve was spent at the beautiful Malealea Lodge, listening to the Lesotho version of Mr Lover Lover being played at an ungodly volume until 5.30am. Fortunately, Bob, the generous manager had let us have use of a cabin next to our camping spot, so the boys slept the night with some sound insulation, while we luxuriated in having the roof tent to ourselves. We got our revenge on at least one of the partiers, having arranged a 3 hour hike during the heat of new year’s day, guided by a teenager with a very sore head.
Our main reason to visit Malealea was to arrange an overnight trek into the mountains. This plan took a bit of a knock as we drove towards Malealea and were faced by the tar road bridge ahead of us which was in the process of slowly collapsing into the river. We rang Bob and asked if there was any alternative route. He directed us to take a long detour down a dirt road which he said would be fine as long as we were in a high clearance 4WD. Many hours later as we lurched over bare rock faces and spun out through rivers of mud, we were cursing Bob for his Lesotho interpretation of “fine”. He appeared slightly surprised when we actually turned up and bent over backwards for the rest of our stay to make it really memorable.
After taking a couple of days to recover from the drive and NYE, we set off on our trek. We hired a pony for the boys to share, and a pack-pony to carry our stuff and set off into the mountains with Thabo, our guide, for a 6 hour hike to a village, where we would stay with a local family in a traditional hut, and hike back the next day. What we didn’t realise was that, due to the recent heavy rains, the nearby river was flooded, making it impossible to cross into the mountains on the usual trekking route, so after 6 hours of hiking in a big circle, we stayed in a village less than 1km from the lodge. Not quite what we expected, but fun none the less. The boys spent the evening playing football with the local children who all turned up to play with these strange children whom they had never seen the like of before – not because they are white, but because of their unheard of ineptitude at football.
Lesotho has been amazing. It’s cold camping at altitudes above 2000m without sleeping bags, and a lot of the campsites were closed because there are so few tourists, so the trip hasn’t gone quite as we planned, but spending a few hours watching the boys playing football with the local kids while watching the mountains glow as the sun set was an experience that we will always remember.