Lesotho Tour - Day 4,5,6, 7 - Fouriesburg to Himevlle / Sani Pass, Mokotlong / Quachas Nek / Rhodes to Aliwal North

Day 4  - 122km Underberg to Molumong Lodge

The overnight rain set the tongues wagging as we wondered what the roads up to Sani were going to be like. The group met at Himeville after breakfast to refuel. Kwagga managed to find a radiator cap, and everybody was rearing to go in the light misty conditions.

The first 20km or so is tar, before you get to the gravel section of around 15km which leads up to the SA Border post. This section was muddy and we had been warned that it was going to be tricky. There were one or two mishaps along the way and everyone managed to get through the border post without incident. These days there are thankfully no forms to fill in. Makes you wonder why they have a post at all – oh hang on, you have to pay a R30 “Toll Fee” in Lesotho – therein lies the reason.

Sani Pass was clear and beautiful. The road was in reasonably good condition, and when we gathered at the top it was somewhat colder. The new black top extends all the way to the Pass and we reminisced about the trip in 2013 when it was somewhat more basic. The highest pub in Africa now charges patrons to write on the wall/ceiling and we mulled around for an hour or two. There was really no rush.

When we eventually got going, my bike had a massive oil spill under the sump. The oil window look ok, and the problem was eventually traced to Baksteen who was up to his usual tricks. The traffic on the new tar road has not changed - goats, donkeys, sheep and the occasional horse together with their shepherd or minder. I’m sure it won’t be long before the tourists realise that they can get to Sani top on tar only. As soon as Sani is also tarred, a new tourist route will open up.

Despite the new (and perfect) roads, your speed is still relatively slow (40 – 60km/hr) because of the twisty nature of the roads and also the many pedestrians and animals along the way. We stopped at a shabeen for our first Maluti while the rhythmic music and relaxed nature of the place really says “Africa”. We also picked-up a French speaking couple Silvian and Lucie who joined us for the evening at Molumong.

We reached the guest house in the early afternoon. Derek had arranged fuel and we refuelled and did the chains and other maintenance. The lodge has had some work done and is looking a little more civilised. There is still no electricity, but there are more comfortable beds and Daniel (our host) in good form. It was cool overnight, no frost and uneventful compared to the trip in 2013.

A hearty breakfast with good coffee at the Old Hatchery in the Underberg
Our accommodations at the Old Hatchery

Looks like Baksteen had a lightbulb moment
beautiful views all around in the Underberg 
Hungry boys

muddy ascent to the SA border post on Sani Pass led by Jorg
Kwagga & Baksteen


The XT had a mud bath
Somehow I managed to keep my bike upright through the tricky muddy sections

now for Sani Pass

lovely waterfall just after the SA border post before ascending Sani
David shared in Paul's jump for joy - check the grin!  Not sure what Baksteen is up to again?
Sani Pass 
David at the top of Sani Pass
Jorg soaking up the energies where heaven and earth meets on Sani Pass


Celebratory drinks at the highest pub in South Africa 
Usually Jorg is the one sleeping standing up...
I was very pleased that I made it safely to the top of Sani on my KLR.  How blessed are we as a couple to enjoy these journeys together!
Spectacular views
Sadly too many roads are now tarred in Lesotho but David managed to keep us off the black stuff as much as possible
as most adventure riders know, its quite tiring riding tar, not to mention boring but all roads lead to gravel so we braved it.
Quite high up in the mountains - still a bit of snow around
Paul and his beloved XT
Mulamong Lodge at Mokatlong
Baksteen the warrior (or is that worrier?)
what a relief to get out of our kit
Jorg and our newfound friends (Sylvain & Lucie) relaxing on the lawn
We even sit in the formation we ride in... #justsaying
the little village surrounding Mulamong Lodge
The guys all got stuck into doing some maintenance on their steeds

not unlike our steeds, this one also needs some TLC and seems well loved by his owner
a familiar sight in Lesotho - many car wrecks can be seen lying against the side of mountains
Fuel is in short supply in the highlands of Lesotho but we were able to pre-arrange some with the owner of the lodge
filling up
Lucie found this litlle lamb whose fleece was not as white as snow..
I could swear Jorg was there a moment ago
This little toddler guy very curious to see all the bikers  
is that a long shorts or a short longs? - too precious he is

Even this little bird was trying to be inconspicuous while keeping an eye on us
we kuiered in the dark.. NO electricity

Day 5 - 240km Molumong to Letleope Guesthouse Qacha’s Nek

This day was always going to be a big day – 242km through some pretty rough terrain and we were looking at 8 to 10hours in the saddle. Breakfast consisting of mielie meal, cereals, toast and boiled eggs filled the spot, and we got on the “road” at 7.30. 

The first part of the “A3” was slow going through villages and rocky mountain roads. The first rains of the season had fallen, and all the local men were starting to plough the soft ground on the impossible slopes where they farm mielies. Many teams, each consisting of a pair of oxen, a plough and their driver were to be seen moving up the mountains to till the soil.

After the first 2 hours or so we were averaging less than 25km/hr which made the 240km look like a 5-day game. Fortunately after the first pass, the road flattened out and once we turned off the A3 onto the Qachas Nek road, the going was pretty quick. We stopped after a while to let Jorg fix is panniers which had rattled off. The road got progressively worse and slower next to the river and with a light following wind it was very hot with the bike fans coming on and off regularly.

After an hour or two, we reached the foot of Matabeng Pass. For those who thought Sani was a challenge, Matabeng resets the parameters. This is definitely a serious 4x4 pass and is a steep climb of 1300m with a number of switchbacks and some rocky challenges thrown into the mix. After some time everybody got to the top. Ang damaged her handlebars and McSack’s back brake had given up the ghost. Ang, Paul and I headed off ahead of the rest to Qachas Nek which was still a fair distance away.

The trip down Matabeng was better that the ascent, and the water in the river was cool, clean and we re-filled our water bottles. The road got progressively better until the Rama’s Gate border post. Thereafter you follow the border line on the top of the mountain. Kwagga caught up with us on one stop and we rode into Qacha’s Nek at about 3pm. It was a hectic day and the simple but comfortable accommodation was very welcome, as was the bath/shower. The rest of the guys arrived 30mins later.

The rear shock on the BMW gave way, and there were a number of niggles with some of the bikes. Kwagga’s was still drinking water, mine had a new smiley in the front rim and both mine and Angela’s radiator bracket had broken with the constant bumping – time for the handy cable tie and a temporary fix.

beautiful sunrise

need I say more? 
Getting ready to tackle our 240km of gravel to Qachas Nek
What a lovely couple (Sylvain & Lucie), that we can now call friends
We meet the nicest people on our adventures   

Paul taking in a few more Zzzzz's while the guys kit up

never again will these words be written on my bike.. as thoughts become words, become actions..and true to these words, I dropped my bike later in the day :(
a tight squeeze for the GS1200

Baksteen trying really hard to make friends

He finally won him over
One of my favourite  'screen' shots
A Stoney never tasted so good

and now for some 'themsies'

Paul & Frenchie
Jorge & Baksteen
Baksteen & Kwagga 
Baksteen, Frenchie & Rolex (David)
Amazing view
The Mr and his Mrs - Birdie & Rolex (aka Angela & David)
In Lesotho only donkeys survive the terrain..
the same can be said of our KLRs.. #justsaying
ok ok.. the GS and the XT didn't do too badly either
and this is why we travel with soft luggage as the hard luggage always breaks off when riding heavy terrain

as if he didn't get in enough Zzzz's this morning..
come on Jorg... Rolex is getting impatient... 
Baksteen ensured that Jorg was 'safe'
Paul on Matabenge Pass

at the top of Matabenge Pass

A very tired Jorg made it up to the top of Matabeng

the 'I made it to the top of Matabeng Pass' grin - combination of exhaustion and relief

last stop before Qachas Nek
Day 5 - 212kms Qachas Nek to Rhodes

The ride to Rhodes was fairly relaxed with a large amount of tar, before the turnoff to Rhodes via Naude’s Nek.  We managed to avoid being locked-up at the border post with some very pathetic ego driven police – small people whose little power had gone straight to their head, and without the manners or class to be able to handle it.  There was a massive road block on the SA side.  Apparently there is a lot of stock theft as well as drugs moving across the border, and the road block is virtually a permanent feature.

Naude’s Nek is spectacular although the wind was very strong and much of the landscape had been burnt – in a controlled fashion I am told.  We popped in at Tenahead Mountain Lodge which is a 5-star mountain lodge with unexpectedly good coffee.  The run-down to Rhodes was 30km and we arrived at the Walkerbouts Inn at around 3pm.  It was officially Braai Day, and the boys managed to get hold of some boerewors, fresh rolls and firewood in order to celebrate the day.

We walked through the town and stopped at a tea room for some coffee and cake.  The hotel has just been sold and will probably re-open in the next few months.  Fuel is only available from one resident who sells it in 10litre containers.

Walkerbouts was ok.  Nothing special, a little overpriced and we would probably look at a different venue next time.  Nevertheless, it was a good evening and we plotted our different routes for the following day.  The guys from East London and PE were headed off south, we were headed north and back to Aliwal North while Jorg was headed for the closest tar road to Cape Town as his shock (or lack thereof) was making his trip uncomfortable.

Letloepe Guesthouse Qachas Nek
Border post
village of Qachas Nek visible from the border post
SA border patrol - a balaclava'd Frenchie trying to distract an officer while Baksteen spins a story why he doens't have a number plate
Finally off the tar again - next stop Naude's Nek

Paul on Naude's Nek
Kwagga, McSack, Frenchie & Baksteen on Naude's Nek

Paul & Kwagga
Kwagga, McSack
brothers in arms - McSack and Baksteen
At the top of Naude's Nek
we saw a sign.... it read Tenahead
and we popped in for a welcoming cup of coffee - 5 star treatment!
and  river runs through it 
Baksteen could easily be mistaken for King Julien (Lemur in"Madagascar")
we could have stayed longer... had we the time and money
Naude's Nek Pass is the second highest altitude, gravel road, publicly accessible pass in South Africa and is a much sought after personal trophy for pass 'hunters' to say: "I've driven it!" Zig-zagging it's way over the Southern Drakensberg, the pass is scenic, long and slow drive
What a legacy for the Naude family, we stopped and paid our respects
The Naude family tree has deep roots
arrived at Walkerbouts in Rhodes
the little town of Rhodes is 1,832 m above sea-level and 16 km due south of the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho.

nommer asseblief?

Write this down guys.... you might need it some day We did!  
met this lovely couple who are 'interning' in the tourism office
DYK?  Local legend has it that Rhodes was originally named Rossville after Ds Ross and that the name was changed to Rhodes in the hopes that the mining magnate and then Prime Minister of the Cape, Cecil John Rhodes, would bless the village with his beneficence, which he didn't.
love the creativity of the folk in Rhodes

Day 7 -  227km Rhodes to Aliwal North

The final day to Aliwal North took us via Lundeans Nek which is picturesque and well worth visiting. We passed through Telle Bridge and close to the Border Post before meeting the tar road off to Lady Grey. The restaurant called Anny’s CafĂ© served a very good lunch and as with all towns in the Eastern Cape, the poverty and inactivity of the local population is alarming. You need to be vigilant to ensure that nothing disappears from your bike or luggage.

We passed Silvian and Lucie heading South towards Lundeans Nek and Ang nearly got wiped out by a guy towing a trailer who believed he owned the entire road. At this stage we were keen to get to Aliwal North and the final 50km or so was done at high speed – of course that is all relative on a KLR.

That evening we went to the Ranch Steak House, on the way narrowly missing a Kudu doe next to the road. The Ranch serves the most unbelievable 800gram T-Bone steak which was a bonus. We loaded up the bakkie and trailer ready for the trip to De Rust the following day. We phoned Jorg who had reached Cape Town (+1000km) from Rhodes at about 9pm that evening.

The weather for our road-trip to De Rust was overcast and we stopped at the Middleburg hotel for breakfast. The countryside has seen a lot of winter rain, and the flowers and vegetation was really magnificent. We overnighted at Meijers Rust Guest House with Barry and Viviene with the usual braai, before heading back to Cape Town via the R62.

Packing up and ready to hit the road again
Rolex gave French and Kwagga a quick Garmin lesson - hopefully Frenchie won't get lost again

We contacted Sean and got some fuel in Rhodes

Leaving the Toll Inn - Homeward bound

All in all it was a fantastic trip, although it was also somewhat busy. We missed Rick who couldn’t make it because of other commitments and Porra who engineered a fault with his bike so as to avoid Matabeng pass.

Thanks to one and all for a great week. I do know that the youngsters were a little frustrated that we were not going fast enough, but safety first and we are there to enjoy the scenery, not just the roads.

I will let you all know once I have posted some videos of our trip on Youtube!    

Till next time, safe travels everyone

4 wheels moves the body, 2 wheels moves the soul