Lesotho, also known as the Kingdom of the skies is just that, a kingdom in the skies with most of the country between 2000-3000m (1-2 miles) above sea level, which for a cyclist means a long hard climb to get there. I chose one of the more difficult passes known as Sani Pass. Taking 8 hours to cycle the 23km (14 miles) was a clear sign I’d bitten off more than I could chew with my rather heavy 55kg bike. The view of the “12 apostles” and other mountains on the way up however, made it all worthwhile though.
My First day in Lesotho felt as if I was in the Scottish highlands. Rain, mist, the hint of mountains in the background, sheep, camping on a puddle filled field and when the locals spoke I couldn’t understand a word.
When cycling in Lesotho distance is not measured in kilometres or hours but instead in road quality, road gradient and how often the road climbs 400m then drops 300m only to climb another 400m. By lunch time the first day I’d only covered 12km and was at 3200m, only to spend the next 2 hours in a painfully slow descent regularly stopping to let my brakes and rims cool off.
One night I camped in a small mountain village, which means being the focus of attention all evening and a sleepless night because of the livestock, kids, dogs, and cockerels. The kids love to have their photo taken so that they can see the result on the camera screen. Many adults love this game too, which is of course followed by the compulsory dancing session. It’s always fun to sleep in these villages but very tiring.
After a long morning climb of about 600m, followed by several “ups and downs” of 100-200m I finally hit what in theory will be the highest point during this trip. The Tlaeeng Pass at 3255m claims to be the highest motor-able pass in Africa,
(cut) but I suspect this is nonsense. It seems everything is the “highest in Africa” in Lesotho. Highest pub 2880m, highest restaurant 3020m, highest motor-able pass 3255m, highest mountain in Africa south of Kilimanjaro 3460m etc, etc, who cares!!!
Spending almost 2 weeks at around 3000m proved to be very hard work but boy was I feeling fit once I got back into South Africa at only 1500m. Lesotho is a special place where the people are as beautiful and rugged as the mountains.