Jay & Nicole's Adventures - Trip to Lesotho - May 2004 
(click any picture to get enlargement)

This trip takes us to the small mountain country of Lesotho.  It is a country bounded by South Africa that doesn't have many industries and is having financial difficulty.

We always wanted to visit there, but never had a good reason.  Nicole read brochures and articles which highly praised the pony rides into their mountains.  She decided that we were going to visit Lesotho and were going to take a full day pony trek; I agreed and began doing leg- stretching exercises.

Lesotho is south of Pretoria by about 5-6 hours.

The lodge was another 1-2 hours from the border.  

Lesotho is known as a very mountainous country ...  

... but it wasn't nearly as rugged as we had expected. 

It turns out the Eastern side is much more flat than the west. 

The flatter areas contained fields of corn (maize) and grains. 

Even the sides of the mountains were terraced for farming.  

Some of the mountains had very interesting shapes :) 

Most roads are made of dirt and we saw few vehicles. 

Walking seemed to be the most common way to get around. 

But the use of ponies was what attracted us to Lesotho.

The Malealea Lodge had main buildings colorfully painted ... 

... and guest lodging that was in cute little thatched huts. 

Even the dog had a thatched house (with a peacock on top).

There was a nice common area for families and night bonfires. 

The view was very nice, but it was dry from a drought. 

A group of peacocks came to show off their colors.

The St. Bernard didn't make much effort to say hi...

... but he took to Nicole after she found he was quite gentle. 

But they had an arguement over who was to eat Nicole's meal.

Then Nicole discovered the littlest dog, named, Mala ... who she named "poodie", since it looked like a ragged poodle. 

Mala moved in and Nicole was surprised by his loyalty.

He should have been named  "shadow", as he followed Nicole everywhere; not surprising when she gave him dinner scraps, belly rubs and a warm blanket! 

We decided to take a hike around the lodge area; with Mala too!   

The views were stunning and the terrain became quite rugged. 

In this direction the land wasn't useful for growing crops. 

The roads were quiet, but every now and then a pony and rider would come trotting by. The animals are very valuable and looked well-treated.  

We saw quite a few herds of cows and a few wagons like this being led by interestingly dressed fellows.  The blankets and hats are unique to this area!

We saw a gathering of people and thought there was trouble; it turned out to be "race day"!

The local men & children (we saw no women) came to watch the races, each involved 4 riders.

This fellow and his pony looked grand; he was a chief and traveled 4 hours to get here.

The next morning we had a hearty breakfast and then got prepared for our pony trek.

We had a wide range of choices for our trek, as seen on the map to the right, which was painted on the side of a large building!

We selected an itinerary that took us south (down) from the lodge to some bushman paintings. 
We would then return up to the waterfall at the top; that way if Jay was uncomfortable, he could skip the waterfall and return to camp.

Our trek started after we were assigned a guide and ponies (which were horses to me) 

We headed out of the village towards a dip in the ground which made a wide valley. 

I expected the valley to be empty, but it contained quite a few homes and little farms. 

A little further down the road we came to other villages. 

Each village was more "rustic" than the previous.

After an hour or so we came to a large cliff; time for a hike. 

A gal came down the hill to guide us to the bushman aintings.

After a steep decline we saw our cave-like destination. 

We passed a place where our yells echo'ed off the far cliffs.  

We had to cross the river at the bottom to get to the paintings. 

We finally got to the caves, but the hike felt good to our legs.

This is a painting of 4 Eland. 

Here a hunter is killing an Eland. 

I don't remember the story here. 

Dancing warriors. 

A woman with a big butt. 

Another woman; early porno? 

After our hike we found our guide sleeping & ponies grazing.

We headed down a steep decline to the valley below. 

The ponies were very sure- footed and did well on rocks. 

We saw herds of cows .... 

... furry goats (angora?) ...

.. and even a few shy donkeys. 

We traveled through villages ...

... that had nice yards & views; ... 

... built with kinds of materials.

At this point my pony wanted to go back home; opposite of where the guide was pointing. 

Finally I got the stubborn animal to go the way it should.  I guess I was not meant to be a cowboy. 

At this point I realized we had passed the point of returning to the lodge; luckily I still felt good.

After a total of about 4 hours on the ponies, we came to the furthest point of the trip. 

We got off the ponies again and hiked down to the waterfall. The hike and hearty lunch felt great!


We then started the trip back... 

 ... past more villages and ... 

... very interesting homes. 

This was an interesting coral; obviously what was kept here could not jump very high.

It was now getting to be later in the afternoon and we could see fires being lit for cooking dinner.

After 6-7 hours we got back to the flat-land and our lodge. I enjoyed the trip but was stiff.

We rested a bit, shared a bottle of wine to congratulate ourselves on the trip (mainly Jay), and then ate heartily at dinner.  We also slept very good that night and didn't feel too bad the next day.

The next day we had to leave, since Nicole had limited time to take away from work. 

We came back through South Africa via a different route and were very happy with the views.

The steep cliffs north of Lesotho reminded us of the southwest part of the United States. 

This area reminded us of a ... 

... park called Monument valley. 

We got to Pretoria OK, but tired. 

We thoroughly enjoyed Lesotho, the people and our pony-trek experience at Malealea.

We do not consider ourselves horse or dog lovers, but after this trip we can understand how people can get attached to their animals, as a main mode of transportation or just as pets.

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