October 2010 Edition 3


 
image © www.aranda.co.za

 
 

Welcome the the Blanket Wrap

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Blanket Wrap

Editorial

Welcome to the Blanket Wrap. This is our 3rd edition of the newsletter and we are seeking to delight our readers with news and views of this magnificent mountain kingdom.

For those readers who attended the Getaway Show at the Coca-Cola Dome, you may have bumped into some us on the Lesotho / Maloti route stand. Jenny Thorn (The Trading Post), Bryan McCarthy and the Maliba Lodge team were on hand to answer any questions about Lesotho you may have had.

Want to know what there is to do in Lesotho apart from taking in the breathtaking views? Read what the Top 10 Activities in Lesotho are and where you are most likely to find them.

Making the news this month was the discovery of a 196-carat diamond from the Letseng diamond Mine in the Mokhotlong district of Lesotho.

We have our fist update from Juliana (American Peace Corps Volunteer) on how she’s finding Village life in the Holomo valley close to Ts’ehlanyane National Park.

Again if you have any suggestions / comments, please send them through to us so that we can make this the best source of information on Lesotho for our readers.

From the Editor

Basotho Woman

Top 10 Activities to do in Lesotho

Picturesque Lesotho is a perfect destination for adventure tourism. You won't find the Big Five in any of Lesotho's parks and reserves, and the wilderness attraction here is predominantly geared towards hikers and pony treks.

Described as the “Kingdom in the sky” or the “Mountain Kingdom”, Lesotho provides memorable scenery for tourists, with its surreal rock formations, abundance of water with lakes, rivers and spectacular waterfalls everywhere, grasslands and unique mountain flora and fauna. It is the unique landscapes of this mountain kingdom that makes any activity that bit more special.

Some of the outdoor activities, which can be performed in Lesotho, are:

 

1. FishingFred Steynberg

Fishing in Lesotho is a heavenly experience offering plenty of excitement for the angler. A number of dams and rivers in Lesotho have made fishing one of the most enjoyable leisure activities in the country. September to May is the best time for fishing in Lesotho. The Mountain streams of the Lesotho highlands offer some of the best trout fishing in Africa. The high altitude and cold temperatures lend themselves well to year round trout fishing in Lesotho.

Trying to fish in the rainy season is possibly the worst time as most of the rivers are clouded with silt and the fishing is badly affected. There are some of the rivers that are good for fishing then, but they are not readily accessible.

 

2. Paragliding / Hang gliding

Despite having ideal crystal clear mountain air and strong breezes for paragliding and hand gliding, the sport remains very much dormant while across the border near the town of De Aar.  Gliders must bring their own 'wings', as there is no specialist equipment for hire in Lesotho. Local information can be obtained from the Lesotho Tourist Board. The make Lesotho an ideal venue for these activities.

 

3. Horse Riding

Horse Riding through Lesotho village

Pony trekking in Lesotho is honestly the most popular activity among the different adventure sports in Lesotho. Pony trekking is one of the best ways to experience the varied landscapes of Lesotho without the limitations of a car, in complete peace and solitude.

There are many types of treks which can last for a week or even for two hours. The visitors can choose as per their convenience. Trekking in this region is done on the very unique Basotho pony. They are an intriguing mix of the full mount European horses and the short Javanese ponies. No prior experience of riding is necessary to take the saddle. However, novice riders can avail of special guides on request. Horseback safari tours are very common among the travelers visiting Lesotho.

 

4. Skiing and Snowboarding

Skiing in Lesotho is one of the main reasons for tourists flocking to this land locked country surrounded by the terrain of the Republic of South Africa. It is situated in a high altitude with temperatures reaching below freezing point over the winter months. This facilitates ideal opportunities for Skiing in Lesotho. The best time for skiing is from June through to August.

Skiing slopes are found in the Oxbow area. Afri-Ski Leisure Kingdom offers some amazing skiing and snowboarding. The oldest resort in Lesotho is the mountain resort of Oxbow. The longest slope in Africa is a 1.5-2km slope called Mahlesela Hill. It's just 11km away from Oxbow Lodge where you can hire ski equipment. But snow or no snow, the area is beautiful and the mountain walks are lovely.

 

5. Mountain BikingMoutain biking

It has become one of the most popular forms of entertainment among the young adventure loving tourists who visit the country from different corners of the world. Lesotho mountain biking takes riders through zigzagging routes amidst the high and beautiful mountain ranges of the country. While going through the different rocky roads the travellers will go past plenty of stunning scenic locations, unique flora and fauna and many lovely waterfalls as well.

There is also opportunity of taking up only downhill biking, which makes the trip more adventurous if that is your particular brand of fun.

There are quite a few touring agencies and lodges, which organize biking tours through the Lesotho Mountains. These tours typically span 4 to 5 days or even more and can be a once in a life time experience for all adventure seekers.

 

You can read the entire article on our blog.

 

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Current News

HRH Prince Seeiso and his wife

196-carat rough white diamond unearthed at Letšeng

The Lesotho based Letšeng diamond mine does it again. This time unearthing an "exceptional" 196-carat rough white diamond that stretches a dazzling 3cm (1.18 inches) across.
The company said it expects the diamond to produce top colour and top clarity polished diamonds and should therefore achieve a substantial per-carat price for the stone. "Offers for the stone, sold as a rough diamond, could come in at between US$7.8 million (R58 million) and US$11.8 million (R88 million)," London-based Panmure Gordon and Company analyst Alison Turnerat.
Map - Letseng Diamond Mine, Lesotho

Since Gem Diamonds' acquisition of the Letšeng, they have found three of the world's 20 largest diamonds in the past four years since acquiring the mine. They include the 603-carat Letšeng Promise, which sold for $12.4 million; the 493-carat Letšeng Legacy, which sold for $10.4 million; and the 478-carat Light of Letšeng, which sold for $18.4 million.

All three of these diamonds were purchased by Lawrence Graff, who owns a 9 percent stake in Gem Diamonds.

Letšeng Diamonds (Pty) Ltd is now 70 percent owned by Gem Diamonds and 30 percent owned by the Lesotho Government.

 

You can read the entire article on our blog.

 

Prince Seeiso and Prince Harry

Village Life – from the point of view of an American Peace Corps Volunteer

I'm a 23 year-old university grad student from suburban America, who has come to live in a rural village in Lesotho, southern Africa for the next two years. I'm often asked why I became a Peace Corps volunteer, giving up the comforts of home, flush toilets and electricity, and good salaried jobs, to come live in developing Africa. I still find it hard to explain, I'm here to help people who haven't had the advantages that I've had. I'm here for the adventure, to experience the real world outside of my sheltered American college town. I'm also here because I want to work in international development and believe that living in a community in a developing country was the best way to really understand them. Most Peace Corps volunteers go to their sites with lofty goals, hoping to make a big difference, to build a community centre or help stop the spread of a disease. My aspirations are much simpler, to make small improvements in the lives of the people around me. I've been in Lesotho for three months, and they've already changed mine.

 

You can read the entire article on our blog.

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Water - liquid gold

Rainbow Trout

Abseiling in Lesotho – Take the plunge!

Maletsunyane FallsFor all those adrenaline junkies out there, Lesotho has a very special experience in store for you, a breathtaking/petrifying 40 minute long total adrenaline rush! It is abseiling at its most exciting and attracts many an international daredevil.

Maletsunyane Falls near Semonkong is the venue for this daring feat and as waterfalls go, this is probably the most famous waterfall in the Mountain Kingdom. At a whopping 204 metres (669ft), it is both the highest single-drop waterfall in Southern Africa and it holds the Guinness World Record for the highest commercially operated abseil in the world. That's quite a resumé when you think about it.

The name of "Place of Smoke" refers to the pluming mirages that unfold as the water plummets to the base of the falls. Jonathan Halse along with his qualified guides, have been operating the abseil since 2003.

"The abseil itself is an extremely exposed straight drop where at times you are suspended in mid air with the spray of the waterfall upon you and the birds of the cliffs flying around you."

The abseil requires two days in order to undertake and no previous abseiling experience is required as full training is provided. Each run down the waterfall takes a full 40 minutes and a willingness to spend vast amounts of time sitting on rocks looking out over vistas of unspoilt mountains.

The abseil costs M850 for one person, M750 for two or M700 for three people. Price includes all equipment, guides and transport, as well as a certificate and a CD of photos, taken by the ever smiling Benedict.

A maximum of 4 people per training for the Maletsunyane Falls abseil.

The walk back up and out of the gorge takes an hour and, at an altitude of 2100m, is not for the unprepared.

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Picture of the Month

 

Maletsunyane Falls - Semonkong, Lesotho, Southern Africa

Maletsunyane Falls by Dave

Taking a break on a training weekend for the "Roof of Africa", we visit Semonkong ("Place of Smoke"). Partly because the Lodge lunch comes highly rated, but mostly to see the famous Maletsunyane Falls. Neither disappoints.

 

Burgers and chips go down awesomely with ice cold Coca-Cola, and the 204m single drop waterfall captivates. It's as if the Earth gave an ancient yawn, etching a huge canyon into the landscape. Even in dry September the relatively small cascade is impressive, the highest in Southern Africa. Here's another indelible memory of the "Mountain Kingdom" and its irresistible terrain.

 

No wonder Lesotho beckons the world's best enduro riders back for more.

Roll on "The Roof" in November!

 

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Upcoming Festivals and Events

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Upcoming events

October Highlights

28 October Morija Festival Cultural Competition
30 October The Bell's Ultimate Fly-Fishing Challenge

November Highlights

7th November - Fouriesburg Rose Show
14th November - Fouriesburg - Ventersberg Challenge
18-20th November - Ficksburg Cherry Festival
20th November - Ficksburg Cherry MTB Challenge
25th November - The Roof of Africa – Enduro Race
27th November - The Sani Stagger

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Joke of the month

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Joke of the month

Cricket - a little known fact...

The first testicular guard (box) was used in cricket in 1874 and the first helmet was used in 1974.

It took men 100 years to realise that the brain is also important.

 

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