Tea growing near Pu Mat National Park at Con Cuong, Vietnam.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Con Cuong (Pu Mat National Park), Vietnam.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Ninh Binh, Vietnam.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

40 kms (25 miles) in two days... (part 1)

When we completed our four hour horseback riding excursion a few days ago, we had decided that any more than that in one outing would be too much.

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.

Stunning scenery.

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!

Pretty soon, we had the pigs, chickens, and local children, all welcoming us to their home!

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...


  1. I can hardly wait. AWESOME pictures! Thanks for sharing. Safe travels!

    1. Thanks Osage Bluff Quilter, the pictures are beautiful but they still don't do the area justice, it is amazing scenery.

  2. More excellent photos and an energetic hike.
    Nice accommodations.

    1. The hike was pretty exhausting but well worth it! The scenery is just too beautiful.

  3. The scenery is just incredible. I am really looking forward to seeing that waterfall up closer.

    1. It was an adventure just doing the hike to the waterfalls from the local village, Kevin should have that post up later today.

  4. What beautiful photos. Can't wait to read about the hike to the waterfall. Yesterday our adventure was driving up into the upper parts of Duluth, higher up than were we took you to look for hawks-- the snowbanks are as high as the stop signs and no parking signs. Down here by the lake it's more manageable, a bit. Can't wait to head off to see the world like you do. Rebecca & Steve

    1. I bet the snow was high up there. Did you see any hawks while you were up there? From what we heard you had quite the winter there this year, hope that it will be over soon.

  5. Super adventure. Not sure I could've managed such a long hike, but I'm enjoying it virtually. ;-) Love the pic of the view from your front door. WOW!

    1. I am very glad that we had the pack horse for this hike, it certainly made the hike easier rather than having to carry our own big pack like we did last year during the 6 day hike in Guatemala.

  6. I like the local Hilton...but where comes the supply for all these days in Lesotho?

    1. We did too, until the rooster and donkey woke us up as some ungodly hour in the very early morning.

  7. Love the photo of Ruth's white feet, comes from being so tanned and wearing sneakers too much! LOL
    Awesome scenery for sure. Wow. Can't wait to see the waterfall close up!

    1. I think that quite a lot of that "tan" on my legs is actually dirt from the hike. It is not nearly so noticeable now that they have been washed, lol!

  8. How many MPOB (Miles Per Oats Bag) did you get from those horses? I never know what you're going to be up to next, that's why I have to keep following your many adventures! :c)

    1. No oats from them just grass! The horses did well but we sometimes had to wait for them to catch up to us, guess we were just to fast for them.

  9. ....and there's Ruth. Still smiling.
    I don't know much, but I know for a fact that *someone* I know would NOT be smiling if that were the accommodations for the night.

    1. There aren't too many times that you won't see me smiling! The hut was actually pretty good, much better than having a tent, especially when it started raining in the evening.

  10. yeah I'm with Bob, accomodations a little too rustic for me. in group pic of kids there's always one isnt there, boy in blue with his tongue out. boy that total rock is surprising horses kept footing so well.

    1. We knew before hand that the hut was very basic along with the cooking equipment, but it is much better than having to stay in a tent. Yep, kids around the world are all the same!

  11. Replies
    1. You're welcome Contessa, it's what we love to do.


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