Sorry for not posting for the last two days but we had no WiFi and international roaming on your cellphone is very expensive so I was limiting data usage to a minimum. We left Oxbow Lodge at around 10am (check out time) as we only had about a 2 hour drive to Maliba Lodge (https://maliba-lodge.com/3-star-river-lodge-2/). Driving in Lesotho is slow going as the speed limit is either 50 or 60 km/h most of the time. There is valid reason for it because you encounter potholes, rock falls, mudslides, speedhumps in random places, goats, sheep, cows and (of course) taxis stopping randomly.
I failed to mention that after the Sani Pass (which is at roughly 2700 meters) we actually got as high as 3400 meters above sea level in Lesotho. Just to put that in perspective, that is the same height as Jungfraujoch in Swizterland! Maliba Lodge was at around 2000 meters above sea level so from Oxbow to Maliba we dropped almost 1500 meters (in a pretty short time). The scenery is fantastic throughout Lesotho. The only thing that spoils things is the litter on the side of the road. It seems people are quite happy to just throw stuff out of the window in the hope someone else will pick up after them.
Maliba Lodge is located inside the Tshelanyane National Park. The bureaucracy to get into the park is a thing to beyond. You have to fill in your name and vehicle details in a book and then get out of the car and go into the office to pay a park fee. That also required a written receipt to be issued with all the parties details on it. Then when you have that another guy with a book copies of those details into his book before you’re allowed to enter. Job creation at it’s best! We eventually got to the lodge at just before 2pm. We had two River Cottages for our party (which were obviously right on the river though bushes and trees obscured our view of the river unless you stood on a chair).
Everyone basically chilled for the first afternoon except for a short walk for some and a swim in the river pool for some. Yesterday morning S & I went for a birding walk while some of the others went for a morning run (more like a trail run and involved crossing rivers). S & I did add another lifer while on our walk and that takes our tally up to 13 for me and 15 for S on this trip (he has now seen 2 on this trip that I had already seen). It has been a very successful trip and we have basically seen everything we hoped to see in this area except for the bearded vulture which we would really like to still see. I have now crossed the 450 lifer mark (I am at 454) and so to see 13 lifers in a trip now is really hard and really impressive to do.
Yesterday afternoon everyone in the party, except S, C, K & I, decided to go for a hike up the mountain to a waterfall. They were about gone for 2 hours when it became very overcast and then the heavens just opened and it bucketed down. There was some thunder and lightening as well and I hoped they were heading back soon because you really shouldn’t be out hiking in that sort of weather. Fortunately they did make it back shortly after that (in one piece but pretty wet).
Late afternoon Mr G brought out his drone (parting gift from the job he just left after 20+ years) and he gave H & S a chance to fly it. Some of us were somewhat concerned about H crashing it into the lodge or trees. Fortunately neither of them did crash it!
We had a braai for dinner and given all the exercise everyone had done, we decided that we were unlikely to see the new year in together. Most people were asleep by midnight though I was still up and saw and heard some fireworks over the Lesotho mountains.
I will post either later tonight or tomorrow morning on today’s activities and hopefully that will get us back on track again. I have included some photos below from Lesotho and the Sani Pass as I couldn’t post them when I did the Sani Pass blog.
Until later …
P, S (for birding walk yesterday am), H, C & K