Malealea Lodge is at the top of a hill right next to Malealea Village. The lodge itself is a collection of chalets, huts, a dorm and a bar/store dotted among Pine trees and areas of brown lawn. Set to one side away from the other buildings, stood a colonial style house that the old man at the gate pointed us towards.
There we managed to find Mick Jones with his feet up on the veranda overlooking the Malotti. Mick owns and runs Malealea with his wife Di. At the time, Mick stayed all the time at the lodge whilst Di ‘commuted’ to their office in Bloemfontain in South Africa.
We watched Mick from our chalet veranda striding around and barking instructions at his employees in the local lingo, SeSotho, until the afternoon thunderstorms that had been threatening all afternoon, turned on a show.
Thunderstorms are a way of life here. Incredibly more people die in Lesotho from lighting strikes than any other single cause. Which is really surprising considering the way they drive! I suppose the bottom line is that a country as poor as Lesotho, it’s one of the world’s poorest, doesn’t have that many cars but does have plenty of people travelling by foot. When you travel by foot in such a mountainous country the risk of getting struck by lighting is relatively high.
That’s not to say that it’s unsafe to walk around Lesotho, it’s just some care is required during their thunderstorm season in the summer months.
The spectacle of these thunderstorms is a show not to be missed, especially after dark.
Watching this show brought home to us that we were actually living our dream. We were away from our home, family and friends travelling the world without a care, except that constant nagging fear of spending too much money. It was a great feeling and a place like this was what it was all about.
Mother and Boy outside a hut, their home in the mountains of Lesotho
Our next destination was a place called Malealea Lodge located in a remote part of the South West of Lesotho.
Malealea Lodge is known for it’s Pony and Walk treks amongst other things.
We had managed to contact them from home not only to find out info but to ask about the security of entering Lesotho on our own.
Before we left Australia we had taken the precaution of checking with the Department of Foreign Affairs and the British Foreign Office web sites to see if they had any travel warnings about any of the countries we proposed to visit. Well they had!
Both advised that travel to and in Lesotho should not be taken independently.
Apparently about 6 months before there was a protest by the opposition party at the election results.
The government declared a state of emergency and called in the South African army. This triggered off a two day violent protest with protesters looting and destroying many of numerous South African businesses in the capital Maseru.
This unfortunately placed Lesotho on the ‘places not to visit’ list. We ‘ummed’ and ‘aahed’ about this but after talking to Di Jones, one of the owners of Malealea, decided to stick to the plan. DI had assured us that there had been no problems since and had been driving around herself without any hint of trouble.
If by chance you’re not a great fan of mountains then whatever you do don’t go to Lesotho it’s absolutely covered in them.
It is one of only two countries in the world to be completely encircled by another country, South Africa, (the other being San Marino) and is the size of Belgium but it’s dominated by the mountain ranges of the Drankensberg and the Maloti. In fact its lowest point is over 1000 metres.
In the mountainous Lesotho, ponies are the major form of transport.