Scenery east of the town of Trai Mat near Da Lat, Vietnam.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Da Lat, Vietnam.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Not sure yet!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Through the Gates of Paradise

Well, I don't quite know how to tell you about the last couple of days, but somehow we need to try and get caught up on our adventures. So this is a condensed version of things, but it's difficult...because we've seen and done so much! To top it all off, we're in the middle of nowhere and have limited electricity and very slow internet. Still, we're determined to tell you what a great few days we've had!

We left Durban on Feb 7, and stayed at a nice backpacker place called Amphitheater Lodge that night. Then on the 8th, we drove into another new country...the tiny Kingdom of Lesotho.

We made our way out of Durban on a busy 4 to 6 lane highway. At times, I felt like I was driving on highway 401 between Montreal and Toronto. It was that busy. Lots of truck traffic, and a high speed limit of 120 km/h (75 mph).

Better slow down to 100 km/h on the corners!

We had a bit of a goal for our drive north from Durban, and that was to see the sculpture of Mandela at the spot where he was captured in 1962. We had read about how totally cool this sculpture is, and we wanted to see it!

Besides the sculpture itself, there is a worthwhile museum at the spot.

Mandela display.

Can you see the sculpture? Yep, it's those rods of steel sticking up.

As you get closer, those rods of steel begin to form a shape.

And if you look at them at exactly the right angle, you can clearly see Mandela's face!

We actually stopped and spoke to a family from the U.S. while we were at the sculpture! First Americans that we have met in South Africa. Two college age girls, and their mother. Turns out the girls are from Houston, Texas and their mother is originally from South Africa. Can't figure why more Americans don't come for a visit.

We continued on to the Amphitheater Backpackers near Bergville. Nice spot, and with some great scenery. Once again, we wish we could have stayed longer! 

Great view from our room!!

We went for a hike. Tried to follow the signs, and came across this one! Can you imagine my dilemma? Strangely, we went to the big tree!!

And then , we came to a river. We think they had a big thunderstorm the day before and the water levels were still high.

Slept fine, and had a fairly long drive the next day...

Woke up to blue sky and sunshine on the 8th!

Wow...what a view!

And that was only the beginning. Our route too us through South Africa's Golden Gate National Park. We didn't have much time to stop and admire the scenery, but what scenery it was! Another spot we want to go back to and do some hiking!

We stopped in the small city of Ladybrand, South Africa and picked up a weeks worth of groceries. Nice little town actually, but we didn't have time to explore...border crossing only a few minutes ahead!

Heading for Maseru, the capital city of Lesotho

By the way, it's pronounced "Ley-soo-too"!

Crossing into a new country!!

It took us about an hour to do the crossing. You have to check out of South Africa before checking into Lesotho. Checking out, they discovered that we hadn't been given enough time in South Africa, and they had to fix things. It was essentially their mistake, but it took some extra time to fix.

People walk a lot in Lesotho. And it's quite hot, so they carry umbrellas for shade!

We drove for another two hours before we arrived at the Gates of Paradise pass. And they weren't kidding!

Wait until you see the next post! What a gorgeous place!

Our drive 629 kms (390 miles) from (A) Durban to (C) Malealea, Lesotho. With an overnight stop at (B) Bergville.


  1. Looking forward to your posts from Lesotho!

    Sft x

  2. Question>>on the sign it has 1 and below that 5 ????

    1. The first indicates the distance to a named site on the outskirts of Maseru (I can't quite make out the symbol to left of the word, perhaps a race-track, railway station or an airport), the second is the distance to Maseru itself

    2. Yes, you are right 2 Coops, the is 1km to the Maseru Border crossing and the 2nd is to the city of Maseru which was 5km.

  3. A very clever sculpture, never saw anything quite like it. Nice to see a great man honored so well.

    1. We thought the same thing. I would think that the "artist/engineer" would have need a computer program for this sculpture.

  4. Probably a very expensive trip for a family. Best fare I can find from Dallas is $1500 pp. If you go to Africa you'd want to stay for at least a month, so add car rental, housing, food, etc. Well, you get the idea. Maybe if you saved for a trip of a lifetime, it might work. We'd be up to it though.

    1. Yes, it would definitely be a pretty expensive undertaking. I expect that is was a little cheaper for them as they had relatives here so they most likely had some to stay. With some careful planning and lots of research you can make the trip more affordable but yes, it will still cost a fair bit, just not as much as some of these safari packages will cost you.

  5. Your picture are great. Keep them coming

  6. Every single photo is fabulous; but, the Mandela sculpture is like nothing I've ever seen before. Thanks so much for sharing it. Wow, is all I have to say.

    1. Yes, the sculpture was amazing. We can't figure out how someone comes up with an idea like that but kudos to them.

  7. It was great meeting you guys in Bulungula! We really enjoyed hiking in the Drakensberg too. We went to the Royal Natal National Park close to Bergville. And today is our last day in SA, we'll be heading to Nepal tomorrow. Save travels and maybe we'll come to Canada in the summer. Cheers, Sabine and Christian

    1. Sorry for the late reply Sabine, trying to get caught up on all the older comments from when we didn't have internet.

      Glad to have met both you and Christian, we had a great time with you. Hope you are enjoying Nepal. Send us some pictures!

  8. Hi Ruth i just wanted to know how many hours does it take to travel from Durban to Lesotho

    1. To be honest I can't remember exactly how long it took us to do the total trip as we did it over two days and on the first day we stopped at the Nelson Mandela monument/sculpture for at least and hour and then it was early enough in the afternoon that we went for a small hike at the backpacker place that we stopped at. The second day we stopped for groceries and than we were at the border for about an hour. It would be one very long day of driving or do like we did and break it up into two shorter days and enjoy a bit of the scenery along the way. The total distance from Durban to the Malealea Lodge in Lesotho was 629 kms (390 miles).


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