What began as a 10-day countdown to an adventure in foreign lands – a first for our Bantu Hikers Africa Edition- ended as the making of something only a higher power could deliver on.
Lesotho: the land of the King, the Basotho land, where great horses and great landscapes reside, the land of colourful traditional Basotho couture blankets, the land of triangular-shaped traditional Basotho straw hats, the land of mountains with great altitudes and magnificent beauty, the land that is cold in temperament yet hot in soul, the land of the humble Basotho man and woman, the land of pride in heritage, the land where we met our maker.
Our long journey, one Thursday morning from opposite parts of South Africa, united old and new Bantu Hikers from Cape Town and Johannesburg. Birds Haven (our new home away from home) would be where all the Bantus convene for the next three days. A cosy little guest lodge in the rural town of Hlotse in Leribe province. Little did we know that our thatched roof rondavel chalets would be home to intellectual, spiritual and even humorous conversations. Who would have even known that we would adopt a cute little black and white dog named Mickey- whom we teased over breakfast around the fireplace.
Friday morning, a day we have so long awaited for finally dawned upon us, bright sunshine radiating into our Winter ready hearts. A day after reflecting and commemorating the South African youth of June 16, 1976; we were happy to be alive and free to occupy new spaces; even in foreign lands. This is the day we would embark on a journey to the mountains and taste the Basotho trails in their seemingly enormous magnitude and beauty. Our drive to Tsehlanyane National Park was met with such enthusiasm; our cameras flashing with every little opportunity in the picturesque ride to the national park; where our hike for the day would take place. Along the way we would see many high and lush snow-capped mountains, little boys going about their day running errands with parcels on donkeys and Basotho men in their blankets herding sheep and goats. We were in awe that even at man’s greatest- God (Qhamatha) is the master architect! After all, he had created all this natural beauty that was in sight.
Maliba lodge in Tsehlanyane National Park boasted a few hiking trails, including waterfalls, breath-taking views of the Maluti Mountain range and magnificent luxury chalets. We were happy to be in the presence of all round beauty. In fact, we were in the belly of the valley in these mountains. We were greeted by our friendly guide to the hiking trail, Leeto (name ironically meaning ‘Journey’), a soul so warm that we all took a liking to him at first sight.
Describing the hike is something that words could not explain to capture the true essence of the majestic moments. We opted for the upper trail overlooking the snow-capped mountains and it was somewhat of a dance to the soul. The waterfalls along the path, wild flowers, serene natural beauty and cracks of the icy ground felt like an outer body experience. God whispered through the naturally manicured forest and all was well with our souls. We were in the mountains and the mountains were within us! Our Leeto (journey) of 3000ft in altitude was determined by our attitude- that it all starts with one step to occupy spaces- even spaces within you. “Your attitude can either make you or break you!”. It is amazing how we all became instantaneously poetic. One of the Bantu Hikers even described her experience with these words: “In nature we see where God has been- in our fellow men we see where God is still at work.” Poetic Justice I tell you!
We were radiant souls after a day well spent massaging the spirit and cleansing the soul. A SKI expedition would be next on the agenda for Saturday, in the northern Butha-Buthe province, where snow and gigantic mountain ranges rule.
Hard-shelled ski shoes were heavy on the feet but ever so light on the spirit. The snow along the drive captured our attention, we were ever such excitable kids and ready to play! The sun came out to play and dance with us in the cold- learning to ski was a daunting experience at first but became a memorable moment where our souls were free once again- sheer joy! What began as a 10-day countdown to an adventure in foreign lands will now be a timeless memory that is engraved in our hearts!
Robert Brault quote: “In nature we see where God has been. In our fellow man, we see where He is still at work”.