The way to Roma in the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho

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The dining (and breakfast) room at the Lilac Lodge.

Today is an early one, 5.45 am our alarm sounds. We leave at 8 and before that we have to do a little packing and last but certainly not least, there’s a lovely breakfast waiting for us and it wouldn’t be fair to rush through it.

The weather’s changed, the skies are clear and the views from the bus are amazing. Today the Drakensberge live up to their reputation.

At 8.50 am we stop at the Sterkfonteindam, the second largest dam in South Africa. Water is pumped into the lake, where it is stored until it is released on the other side of the dam when the water is needed in the Transvaal. The lake is so big that we cannot see the bank on the other side.

The Sentinel, the part of the Golden Gate that didn't crumble.

 Near the dam runs a project to save the Cape vulture (a.k.a. the Cape Griffon) from extinction. For years these majestic birds have been hunted and poisoned by farmers, until only three individuals were left. Now carcasses are left in the fields upon which the vultures can feed and the population starts to grow slowly.

We move on at 9.05 am and we stop again at a fantastic location, just past the highest mountain pass we travel over today, to take a group photo, Johan and Gert join us this time.

At 10.30 am we arrive at the Golden Gate. The Golden Gate derives it’s name from the time that there were two large rock peaks standing here, one on either side of the road, that shone like gold door jambs in the light of the setting sun.

Our group side by side.
Sadly one of the two has crumbled, the other one stands alone, looking like the protrusion around which Minas Tirith was built.

In the nearby hotel we’re having coffee and when everyone is up to it, we have got one hour time to walk ahead (on tarmac road) and then the bus will come and pick us up. We feel rather small, surrounded by tremendous mountains of bare rock. When the bus has picked us up, a glass of Amarula on ice is served. It tastes a bit like Bailey’s, but it is made of different ingredients, the Marula fruit being one of them.

Soon we are in a little town called Clarens, where we have lunch and use the ATM machine. The food is not fantastic, but it could have been worse. Back on track at 2 pm.

At 4 pm we reach the South African border.

Sunset in Roma, Lesotho.
Half the people in our group get a stamp with yesterday’s date, Johan says not to worry, it also happens that they fill in the wrong year. A river is the actual border between the two countries and we have to cross the bridge on foot and then we get our stamp on the Lesotho side. From here it is a 40 minute drive to Roma, where we will be staying the next few days. By the time we get there I need to use the restroom really badly and the first thing I do when the bus stops is relieve my pressure.

Were we are staying is not a lodge this time, but a trading post with tourist facilities. The trading post is still being used as such, every morning at eight local farmers come here to trade their goods. After putting our stuff in our room we check out the garden and the view and then we wander onto the road just outside the trading post’s premises. Within minutes Trudy has a new boyfriend and three children. The kids are very nice, but every single one of them wants to have his picture taken (thank God for digital cameras).

After a little while we go for a chat with Jos and Anke, a married couple that we get along with very well, and before we know it it’s dinner time again. When it’s dark someone says that at this time we can see the tail of comet McNaught, so all of us go outside to make good use of this rare occasion.

It’s a little past 9 pm when Trudy and I go back to our room, and here, like in Swaziland we have to use our flashlight to get there.

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The dining (and breakfast) room at…
The dining (and breakfast) room a…
The Sentinel, the part of the Gold…
The Sentinel, the part of the Gol…
Our group side by side.
Our group side by side.
Sunset in Roma, Lesotho.
Sunset in Roma, Lesotho.
Shots from inside the bus while dr…
Shots from inside the bus while d…
The artificial lake at Sterkfontei…
The artificial lake at Sterkfonte…
Are we there yet???
Are we there yet???
In less than 2 minutes Trudy had a…
In less than 2 minutes Trudy had …
The view from our bedroom window a…
The view from our bedroom window …
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photo by: Stormcrow