Hiking Lesotho

As a part of my travels with BazBus, I stopped for a few days in the Northern Drakensberg, right on the border of the Kingdom of Lesotho. Together with some new made friends I signed up for day trip to the Amphitheater and the Worlds second highest waterfall, the Tuguela Falls, and for a day trip to Lesotho on another.


Trekking up to the amphitheater took a good four hours. On top we could stand on the edge seeing far into the Kingdom of Swaziland, which is separated from South Africa by the Drakensberg Mountains, where also JRR. Tolkien got his inspiration for the Lord of the Rings books. We could easily see why- the mountains were quite far reaching and magnificent. Just a short walk from the viewpoint we got to the Tuguela Falls, where unfortunately there was no water except an icy pool on top. Showing off some viking spirit I had break the ice to jump into the freezing cold water, and quickly got the heat back once we started walking the way down some 40 and 20 meter high free hanging chain ladders which was quite scary stuff!


On the trip to Lesotho we started off early driving up the steep mountain pass leading up the the highest country in the world. Once crossing the border, which didnt even have a border post on the Lesotho side, there were quite clear differences between how people lived compared to the other side. People were walking around, usually with sticks and woollen blankets wrapped around them and living in small mud huts. We got to visit a school, met a shaman, climbed some hills to see cave paintings and best of all we got to taste some local food and beer. We found the beer my stopping at a mud hut having a white flag (meaning beer for sale) and food at a mud hut having a red flag (meaning food for sale). Learning the basotho flag signalling systems and talking to some locals to hear how the daily life was quite interesting and well worth the trip.



Visiting the Kingdom of Swaziland

Swaziland is an independent country, easily accessible from Johannesburg. Little did I know about the country other than it having the highest rate of HIV in the World and one of the lowest life expectancies (at 46!), but I was soon to explore that it was more to it than that..

When getting off I was asked which city I wanted to go to, and when I said the capital they asked me which one? Apparently there were two, which are also the only cities in the country (with over 10 000 innhabitants) and of course I managed to get off at the wrong one. Luckily I discovered that the Swazi people were really friendly, and with just asking a random guy he took me on the right bus and showed me to the campsite that I had booked.

There I met a couple of travelers who took me on a safari in the Milwane Wildlife Sanctuary, which was a place where you could walk, ride a bike and drive among crocodiles, antilopes, warthogs and more- quite accessible from Lobabamba where my lodge and most of the tourists and expats were living. The next day we went on a hike to the worlds second largest monolith, Sibebe (second after Ayers Rock) which was big enough to hike on for hours seeing a view of one of the capitals and some caves along the way.

When they had left and I was on my own I took a trip to the Swazi Cultural Village, where I could walk to a waterfall, seeing a execution cliff and take a guided tour around a village to know more about the history and culture of the Swazi people. The tour ended with a dancing show where there was a lot of drumming and kicking- quite a lively ending to my stay in the Kingdom of Swaziland.

Sand Dunes of Sossusvlei


We managed to secure the last spot for our truck and tents in the park, which allowed us to camp and explore the national park for a three days. Arriving around noon there was plenty of time to do some laundry and then walk the five kilometers over to the Sesriem Canyon. From the viewpoint on top you could not really see much of it, so we walked down and through the narrow canyon.


The next morning we started driving at four while it was still dark outside. The plan was to make it to the dunes at sunrise which unfortunately we did not. The last few kilometers we were told that we needed to buy tickets for a 4*4 drive, as our truck was not fit for driving through the sand. We arrived just after sunrise, but got to see the shadows moving on the dunes which was just as fascinating. It took a little more than an hour to hike up the Worlds biggest sand dune, called Big Daddy, and after a short moment viewing the landscape alone from the top I ran it down in less than two minutes.


What I had been looking forward to seeing the most in Sossosvlei was the dead trees called the “Dead Vlei”. After having ran down “Big Daddy” I saw some trees standing lonely at the bottom and took some pictures, not knowing that I was actually standing in “Dead Vlei” watching those exact trees. Even though it looks quite beautiful on photos, it was not more than just a few trees to see and much less impressive than what I had expected.

Waterhole Viewing in Etosha National Park


Having crossed over from Angola we were now in what can be called “Africa Light”, or Africa with Shoprite supermarkets in every small town. People spoke english and there were again more tourists around.


We were planning on staying three nights in Etosha National Park, but as all of the campsites were full we only got one night in Halali and then two nights in the Eldorado Guest farm just a couple of kilometers outside of the park entrance.


As we had already bought a 72 hour entrance pass to the park, we still went the whole three days on safari, driving our truck on the dusty roads. What I found particularly special about Etosha compared to other national parks was that everything was happening around the waterholes. We could be driving for hours without seeing much more than some ostriches, oryxes and impalas and then it was first when we stopped at the viewpoints, usually by waterholes that we got to see rhinos, lions, elephants and giraffes. But that was also the beauty of Etosha. The camps, like Okaukuejo where we stopped for lunch every day had their own waterholes where you could sit day and night and watch the animals come to drink, while you could peacefully be sitting drinking some wine yourself. People might have had other experiences than me, traveling in the dry season, but all safaris I have been on before like in Botswana, Zambia, South Africa etc it has been more of a “hit or miss” than it was in Namibia.

Etosha was one of the places I had been looking forward to visiting the most on my West Africa trip and it did not disappoint me. We saw heaps of animals in a comfortable and relaxing way and had pools, good food and plenty of time as there was no longer any deadlines for visas etc that we had to reach. I finally had a feeling that the rest of my West Africa trip was going to be a holiday.

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Last stop, Lubango!

Lubango sign

Angola is in an economical crisis at the moment. The inflation rate is high and expats are no longer allowed to bring the local currency out of the country. Therefore there is a huge black market for currency where people would pay four times the official rate for dollars and euros. We used that to our advantage and got lots of local currency for the euros we had brought. Just like when we exchanged at the black market in Nigeria we were stuck with lots of cash that we could not use or exchange outside the country. So we stopped in Lubango to spend the rest.

Our food kitty was easily spent on spaghetti, tomato paste and other food that we use a lot. Most people also stocked up on and filled the truck with snacks and alcohol which was sure to be finished by the time we reach Cape Town.

Lubango was also a place known for having the World’s third biggest Jesus statue, only surpassed by Lisbon and Rio. It also had a huge Hollywood like sign next to it. After we had played around with the two and taken plenty of pictures, we set off towards Namibia.



Angola Landscape

The landscape through Angola must have been the most beautiful on our trip, with curvy roads winding up the mountains.