15 Day trip
14 nights/15 days
Departure at 8.30 in the morning from Underberg. Stop at the Good Hope Trading Store, originated in 1917 by John White Smith. Ascending the legendary Sam Pass with its hair-pin bends offering unparalleled vistas of the Sani Valley and Drakensberg Escarpment situated within the Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park, one of our World Heritage sites. Proteas along the road, proceed to viewing of 12 Apostles. These geological structures are one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. Our guide is taking care of the border formalities. At the summit at 2.874m we stop for refreshments at the Sani Top Chalet, the Highest Pub in Africa. Thereafter we proceed to the village and the Basotho culture will be explained. Ascending the Black Mountain Pass up to 3280m, following the Senqu River Picnic lunch on route. Guided tour at the Letsieng Diamond Mine, the highest mine in the world (3250m), Our journey takes us on tar road onto the summit of the highest road in Africa. the Tlaeeng Pass (3255m) The Roof of Africa. Slightly lower is the Pass of Guns with 3240m, past the Mahlasela Ski Slope to Likileng Lodge. All mountains are covered in snow in winter Dinner at the lodge.
Breakfast at O7:00 at the lodge. Depart at 08.00 for the twisty tar road to the summit of the Moteng Pass, 2.840m, one of the highest roads attained by normal two-wheel-drive vehicles in Southern Africa. This is the basalt roof of Southern Africa, a world of winter snows, frozen waterfalls, crisp clear air and crystal streams with fat tout. Descend into the Holola Valley (River of the Blue Crane), past spectacular sandstone overhangs and rugged countryside to Butha-Buthe (the Gatherer) This little town was named after King Moshoeshoe's old mountain stronghold. On our way to Hlotse, strange, richly colored rock shapes may be seen on all sides, creating the effect of a vast assembly of weird petrified figures. Past a few missions and several rock shelters where San paintings may be seen, the main road passes the Leribe Farmers Training Center to the town of Hlotse. It is the administration center of the Leribe district and originated in 1876 when a Mission outpost was established. Continue on the Nelson Mandela Road, crossing the Malibamatso River (River of dark Pools) where the great Katse Dam was constructed from 1991 to 1997. Our guide takes care of the security checkpoint. The Katse Dam is the second largest darn in the world and supplies water to Witwatersrand (Gauteng, Soweto) in South Africa and irrigates the lowlands in Lesotho. Video Presentation and guided tour into the darn wall. Lunch at Bokong Nature Reserve. Dinner at the lodge.
After breakfast at the lodge, depart on dirt road to Mashai. Watch the majestic Cape Vultures in flight and beautiful butterflies in summer. Thaba Tseka (the mountain with blaze) houses a stud farm breeding Basotho Ponies and a tree nursery. Cross the Koma-Koma Bridge, which floods when the sluice gates of the Katse Dam are opened. Refreshment stop and picnic at the shebeen (pub) at Taung village. Travel over rocky mountains, patches of maize fields where Basotho's work on their land with loving care. Arrive at the lodge in the afternoon. Relax on a swing-chair, facing the setting sun. Dinner: self-catering in fully equipped kitchen, (communal bathroom)
After a late breakfast we proceed on dirt road. Refreshment stop at the new bridge over the Sehongong River to view rock art. The pass becomes rugged, twisting parallel to the river. The Chief and his wife welcome us at the village. Interact or chat with the locals living in decorated huts. Picnic lunch on route. The scenic rough road takes us deeper into the Matebeng Valley. As soon as we see the vegetable garden of James, who lives in a simple house, snuggled into the mountain, we stop. The invitation to enter the dwelling explains how Basothos' survive the harsh conditions. Setup camp by the riverside. Prepare a delicious dinner.
Breakfast at campsite before we depart for the most adventures part of our journey. More Bushmen Paintings may be seen a few kilometers along the road. Climbing up the Somalenki Mountain back on the Matebeng Pass is not an easy task. Picnic lunch at the summit of 2.940m. Descending this mountain pass is easier as it has been improved. Proceed on the long stretch of dirt road to the small town of Quacha's Nek. The name is a hopeless miss-spelt version of the name of Ncatya, a son of the famous Chief Moorosi. Dinner at the hotel.
Breakfast at the hotel. On the tar road, which was built in the
1970s, we proceed along the Orange River. A very steep mountain pass on dirt road leads us past villages with vegetable gardens, crossing small streams. Picnic lunch on route. At 2.080m stop at "Christ the King" viewpoint with a beautiful view into the valley below and mountains around. Enjoy homemade dinner under the stars.
After breakfast we break up the camp and enjoy a beautiful dirt road leading through the gorge containing the Quthing River. The area is wild, rocky and famous for its Aloes. Here Chief Moorosi fought a battle against the British. One of the memories is Fort Hartley. This sandstone building, erected in 1900 by the British, serves today as a Trading Store. Discover ancient Dinosaur Footprints, which were created over millions of years ago and are converted to stone. Lunch at Outhing. Moyeni (Quthing) means "Place of the Wind" and is the most southerly town in Lesotho. It was chosen by the British as an administration center. In the afternoon a visit of the Cave House, which was built 1866 by Rev. Ellenberger. Time of leisure. Dinner at the hotel.
Breakfast at the hotel. Travel north crossing the Orange River on the Seake Bridge, which is 191 m long, the longest bridge in the country. Built in England, shipped to South Africa and carried by wagon on road to Lesotho. Stretching our legs with a 20 min. walk up the mountain to view the Cannibal Caves. There are several caves inter-leading where in the 1820s people were forced to practice cannibalism in order to survive. Picnic lunch on route. Descend the twisting mountain pass with panoramic views of the Makhaleng Valley. Dominating the mountain here is the impressive Thaba Putswa (2908m). Dinner at the lodge.
After breakfast at the lodge we continue traveling north an dirt road in good condition. A scenic drive through bushy landscape, small forests and farmland dotted with picturesque villages. Along the road dense bushes and shrubs used by the locals for medical purposes, e.g. the "Wild Als Bush" is a remedy for Asthma and Flu or the "ChiChi Bush" (Old Wood Bush) for stomach problems. On the roadside basalt stone with hardened volcanic bubbles. We descend the pass to a view point at 1860m to look down to the awesome valley. Picnic lunch on route. The afternoon spent at leisure within the beautiful surrounding of Ramabanta. Dinner at the Trading Post.
After breakfast, prepared by chef Patrick, get ready for an exciting journey over the summit of the Thaba Putswa Range via Makheka's Pass and across the basalt moorland roof of Southern Africa to Semonkang, "the Place of Smoke". View stop at 2260m before we reach the summit of the Makheka's Pass at 2860m. Panoramic views of the valley. The grassland is dotted with yellow flowers of Euryops, white Arum Lilies, bright reds and yellows of the Red-Hot Pokers and more. The road pass becomes very rugged before and after the summit. Lunch at the lodge. In the afternoon visit the spectacular Maletsunyane Falls.
The longest single drop waterfall in Southern Africa (197m). Dinner at the lodge.
Breakfast on the verandah or in the restaurant at the lodge. We have to double-back the route from yesterday to Moitsupeli. Thereafter we travel on tar road to Roma. We climb steadily to the top of the Nkesi's Pass (2.010m), from where a superb view of the 3.096m, Thaba Putswa Range can be seen. Just before Roma the road looses altitude and we drive through spectacular white sandstone rocks and valleys. Nearby the Thaba Telle mountain (2.530m), which is climbed by mountaineers and it is told it is not an easy one. The city of Roma is the principal center of the Roman Catholic Church in Lesotho and since 1964 the site of the National University of Lesotho. Roma was founded in l862 when King Moshoeshoe granted the site to Bishop Allard and Father Gerard. Lunch in Roma. In the afternoon visit of the Morija Museum with its collection of Bushmen Art, Dinosaurs Footprints, Books, Clay Pots, Fossils, old tools used by various tribes and explanations. The Moeder Craft Center is housed in the oldest building in Morija, 1843, where one may purchase a variety of tapestry, Mohair shoals, souvenirs, etc. With a little luck we can have a glimpse of the King at his Royal Residence. Dinner at the guesthouse.
After breakfast we depart for Mohale Dam. We drive past Peach Trees and mountains of white sandstone on tar road. Our Guide takes care of the security check point entering the dam area. The Mohale Dam built from 1998 -2003 in a joint venture of Germany, Italy and South Africa. Climb the Molimo Nthuso Pass "God help me", to the summit at 2320m. Lunch at Mohale Dam. Afternoon at leisure and exploring the spectacular dam area. Dinner at the lodge.
Breakfast at the lodge. Our journey takes us down into the valley, but the windy road climbs again to an altitude of 2620m, the Blue Mountain Pass. Named after the 2.900m high Thaba Putswa, which dominates the range in the north. The pass descends steeply into the Likalaneng Valley. Leaving the dam area our Guide will check out at the security post. Picnic lunch on route. We ascend the pass on dirt road, dotted with low shrubs and wild flowers, including Red-Hot Pokers. A long, curving road into the valley of the Senqunyane River. Pass the Trading Store and Police Post of Marakabei, named after a Chief in the area. The road crosses the Senqunyane River, also known as the Little Orange River, one of the principal upper tributaries of the Orange River. We climb steeply to the summit of the Tshetshe Pass, 2560m. Immediately it descends into the Mantsonyane River Valley (small black river), driving higher up the mountains with its dark basalt stone, covered in snow in winter. Awesome views, lonely herd-boys on the mountain slopes', the gentle sound of their "Lesibas" floating on the wind. At 2900m Mountain Reedbuck find their way on the steep slopes. Follow the long, windy mountain road into the Highlands of Lesotho. At 3.000m there are no trees. Donkeys are heavily loaded with goods or shrubs, herded by horsemen in their colourful blankets. Cross the Mashai River, which is flooded if the sluice gates of the Katse Dam are opened. Dinner at the restaurant.
Breakfast at the hotel. Travel via rocky mountains for the shepherds to protect their sheep and cattle from wild animals. (Note: ask our Guide for details). Steep gorges and valleys, dotted with Basotho huts. Watch Yellow Billed Storks and Black Eagles in flight. The landscape is spiked with Red-Hot Pokers, flowering in summer. Picnic lunch on route. Spectacular views of the valley at 3003m. Spot the "Pyjama Flower", used for traditional purposes, growing at 1500-3000m. Take the "Garden Route" near St. James Mission, a rugged and adventurous experience. Ascend Black Mountain Pass at 3280m, following the Senqu River. Awesome view of Hodgon's Peaks and the Giants Cup. Descend the pass and head for next accommodation. Afternoon at leisure, relax at the Highest Pub in Africa at 2.874m. Dinner at the restaurant.
After a good breakfast our guide takes care of the border formalities. Descend Sani Pass beneath towering cliffs, buttresses, past waterfalls and unique flora and bird life. Following the Mkomazi River back to Underberg. Arrival about lunch time.
Transfers and accommodation in Underberg/Himeville can be arranged at an additional cost.