So we made a plan that any longer trips would be better done on foot, with the horses carrying our gear. The best of both worlds!
We found a hike to the Ribaneng waterfall that we wanted to do.
It was advertised as a six hour "pony trek" to get to a village where you would spend the night. However from there it was still a two hour return trip hike to get to the waterfall itself. You had to decide whether you wanted to do this the afternoon you arrived at the village, or the morning before you left the village.
So we knew ahead of time that we would be hiking approximately 15 hours over two days. Yes, we signed up for this on our own free will!
We had been assigned Vincent as a guide for our first pony trek, and we were pretty happy with him. His English is quite good, and he was always happy and cheerful and didn't mind answering all of our questions about his people and their culture. So when he said that he was available for an overnight trek, we asked specifically if he could be our guide again for this outing.
(Don't forget to click on the picture to make it full size. Some of them are worth it!)
Our pack horse getting ready to go.
We set off at about 8:40am on Saturday morning. It was a beautiful morning with a clear blue sky.
Ruth, showing Vincent where we had been hiking a couple of days ago.
These people have a property with a view!
Our guide Vincent, riding Braii Man. Our packhorse's name was Sun City.
Our first strenuous section came when we had to cross the Makhaleng River. No worries for us going down, although we wouldn't have wanted to be on horseback! There were some steep sections, and one sheer piece of rock that didn't look like it had much grip, although the horses managed it without an issue.
Kevin, and the view of the Malhaleng River. Can you see the bridge we are going down to cross?
Ruth and the horses.
Can't believe the horses didn't slip on this section!
Ruth, crossing the bridge.
Our horses crossed the river itself. Can you see Vincent?
Of course, after we crossed the river we had to climb up the other side!
Heading up the other side.
We met quite a few local people along the way. Shepherds tending to cattle or sheep, women collecting firewood, and lots of children. Everybody was friendly, but children were especially happy to wave at us and say hello. However the children also ask for sweets and this is a little annoying.
The story we get is that many years ago the French missionaries came to Lesotho and bribed the people with candy to make them go to church. Since then, some tourists still give candies, or "sweets" to the people in the villages. And so the younger children (most of whom speak very little English) will still say "give me some sweets" (in very poor English) to any white people passing through.
Donkeys with their load of corn, or maize flour.
We came to one town where they had a temporary station set up milling corn. People would come from miles around to have their corn milled. They would bring their donkeys to carry the load back and forth along paths woven in the countryside from the villages that have no road access.
Portable milling station.
Waiting to be milled.
This guy seemed to be in charge of the milling.
Children love to have their pictures taken. On this occasion, one smart girl knew the address of her school and that's the only way that mail would be delivered to the area. Through our interpreter Vincent, she asked if we would send a copy of the photo to her, and we couldn't believe that she knew the address! She wrote it on the back of one of our cards, and we look forward to sending her a copy.
This group came running as soon as they saw me with my camera out!
Typical rural housing.
Notice what's on the hill in the background!
This cell tower was installed a few years ago, and it's still not operational because of a dispute over who owns the land it was put on. At least that's the story we got. Many of these rural homes, despite not having electricity, do in fact have cell service. We saw a few homes that have small solar panels for recharging cell phones.
Ruth, walking along the path to the village. This particular village has no road access.
Wow. Can you see the waterfall we're heading to???
Just before 3:30pm, we arrived at the village of Ribaneng. This little community is where Malealea Lodge has made arrangements with some of the locals to rent out a rondoval for our use for the night. Very basic, and just the way the locals live.
Welcome to our home for the night!
Yep, this is our accommodation.
And these are our neighbors.
Chickens coming for a visit.
And some of the local kids. They spoke just enough English to be able to count!
This was the view from our front door.
And behind our hut, looking the other way.
As we were sitting relaxing, another two horses rode up! Arianne, an American girl traveling by herself, and her guide. This was kind of nice because we all enjoyed getting to know each other and we had each other's company to pass the time. We then had a decision to make.
Do we hike to the waterfall (another two hours for the return trip!) that afternoon, or leave it until morning??
Keep in mind that we had already hiked 18.5 kms (11.5 miles)!
We all decided that it would be best left until morning. However, that would mean being ready to do the hike at 6:00am. Turns out that wasn't a problem because the roosters, donkeys, and other animals made sure we were up in time.
Stay tuned for part 2...