February 2011 Edition 7

Aranda Basotho Blankets

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image © www.aranda.co.za

 
 

Welcome to this edition of The Blanket Wrap

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Blanket Wrap

New year resolutions be damned and welcome to the 7th edition of the Blanket Wrap, The newsletter where you are kept up-to-date with all the news and views of the magnificent mountain kingdom of Lesotho.

To help make it a fantastic year for all your travels, we have some general advice on planning a trip to Lesotho.

There are many underprivileged people living in Lesotho who need help in their lives. Projects financed through Lodges and Charities provide assistance where needed most. “Be one World” organise clothing drops in remote areas of Lesotho.

Discover “The Roof of Africa” as you’ve never seen it before and experience some of the best mountain top views in Southern Africa.

Have something to add? Get involved and send a quick email with your requests to the editor.

From the Editor

Basotho Blankets

Planning a trip to Lesotho?

Planning a trip to the mountain kingdom of Lesotho doesn’t have to be looked upon as a daunting task requiring hours of research and a mountain of gear.

The truth is that Lesotho is very accessible and regardless of whether you’re planning a weekend away, a weeklong pony trek through the mountain villages or even a backpacking adventure, Lesotho is the place.

The general rule of thumb is taken from the Boy Scouts motto of always being prepared. Good planning is vital for a fun, hassle-free trip regardless of where you travel and especially when travelling around Lesotho.

Visa requirements:

All travellers will need a passport valid for at least 90 days following your departure date from Lesotho. You are able to check the visa requirements at VisaHQ.

Sani Pass border post

Read the full article on our blog

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Current News - Maliba wins Gold at HICA

Lesotho Kids

Mokhotlong Lesotho map

Now over 13 years and almost 60 trips to Lesotho later, we continue to run mission trips to Lesotho as a Christian based NGO called One Heart International Mission. We have done clothing drops, blanket drops, a lot of evangelism, feeding schemes and recently built a church building in the village of Sekoka.

In February 2010, we undertook an exciting clothing project. We had been contacted by Barbara van de Griend, founder of a Dutch foundation called Be One World. She was collecting clothing in the Netherlands for distribution in the mountains of Lesotho.

One World Lesotho expedition

 

By February she had collected and packed 2000kgs of good 2nd hand clothing into boxes, put it all into a container and shipped it to South Africa. Due to current legislation the container couldn’t be opened in South Africa, but had to continue, sealed to Maseru. It was then sent on to Mokhotlong, one of the remotest towns in Southern Africa.

The name Mokhotlong means “Place of the bald Ibis” due to the abundance of these birds in the area. It is also referred to amongst the locals as “Camp” due to the presence of a Lesotho Defense Force base, situated a stones throw from the town.

Our team of 18 people left from Durban on the 22 February and arrived, excited and tired after the trip from Durban up Sani Pass and onto Mokhotlong. That evening we sorted the boxes of clothing and early the next morning we packed the 6 vehicles with clothing. The interpreters had now joined us and there were 22 people from 5 different nations represented, including 5 members from the 4X4 community.

Be one world Lesotho clothing drop

The plan was to cover 3 different valleys, including the Senqu River valley, over the next 3 days.Village Children of Mokhotlong

We split into 3 teams and divided each valley into thirds. Each team then did their third so that each team did a short, a medium and a long trip over the 3 days. Each night we slept at a mission house in Mokhotlong. This enabled us to reload with clothing each morning.

The first day we went East along the Mateanong valley. The second day we went NE up the Mangaung valley and on the last day we drove North up to the village of Tlanyaku following the beautiful Senqu river towards its source.

During this time we clothed approximately 2500-3000 people. At each village we also shared the Gospel and prayed for the villagers.

On Friday the 26th February the whole team left and went back down Sani Pass, tired but with lots of photos and stories to tell.

If you would like to contribute either your time or 2nd hand clothing to this very worthwhile project. please contact Mr. Dave Robb of One heart International Mission. Drop dates are once again 24-27 February 2011, so there is still time to get involved.

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Village life with Juliana - American Peace Corps

Juiliana

Being a patient in a Hospital in Rural Africa


I’ve been surprisingly lucky that I’ve gone six months in rural Africa without so much as a cold.  But a couple of weeks ago I caught a stomach virus that was going around the peace corps volunteers.  I started throwing up and couldn’t stop.  It was after dark, so there wasn’t any more transportation to the nearest town or hospital.  I called the lodge and they came and picked me up and drove me to the hospital, but not before I had thrown up eleven times in two hours.  I’ve had food poisoning and the stomach flu before, but this seemed worse.

I am so lucky that I have a host organization like Maliba Lodge that was so easy to contact and helpful in getting me to the hospital.  The hospital was in the camptown closest to my village, Butha-Buthe.

Thaba Bosiu Gov't Hospital, Butha-ButheEven though it was after hours nurses were there and they gave me a charcoal drink and a shot to stop the stomach pains (though there was no alcohol swab or bandaid with the shot).  I felt a lot better almost instantly, but was too weak to leave.  Throughout the night I kept asking for water, and the nurses told me there was none.  Finally they turned on the tap to show me that it was dry and there was no running water.

So I had no water (I did have an IV though) until another volunteer came and visited me the next day and brought me some water.  I also needed to go to the bathroom after 2 full IVs , but they were all closed because of the lack of running water.  I asked the nurse what I should do, I stayed for over 16 hours and really had to use the toilet, she said she did not know.  I eventually got a bed pan.

I have to admit the lack of water was not the hospitals fault, but the idea that a hospital could lose their running water and nothing would be done about it for days shocked me.  Besides that, it was actually pretty nice, there weren’t many people there at all (hospitals are expensive to stay in overnight) and the food was much better than what I’ve had in American hospitals.  I probably got more attention than I would have in a hospital at home too.  But I almost was made to stay for another night when the accounts office closed at 3pm.  The staff wanted to keep me another night (and pay for it) because I could not settle my bill while the accounts office was closed.

With the help of Lauren, the volunteer visiting me, we convinced them that I could leave a deposit and settle the account with Peace Corps the next day.  While I never would want to go to the hospital here again, I was pleasantly surprised with my experience there, and I left a little weak, but cured.

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4x4 - Get ONTO the beaten track in Lesotho

Rainbow Trout

The “Roof of Africa” circle route should not be confused with the endurance race of the same name, as it refers the senic circuit/loop encompassing the Maluti Mountains and the towns of Mokhotlong, Thaba-Tseka, Katse Dam, Pitseng, Butha-Buthe and Oxbow.

The reason behind the name (Roof of Africa) is that this route travels through the Maloti Mountain Range, with an altitude that surpasses 3251m above sea level and offers visitors to Lesotho breathtaking scenery of mountains, valleys, beautiful mountain streams and waterfalls.

The Roof of Africa Circuit

Although most of the route is tarred a 4x4 vehicle is mandatory to complete the southern section of the loop due to the roads and various sightseeing stops.
Accomodation is available at all around Lesotho ranging from the 5 star Maliba Mountain Lodge to various camping locations scattered throughout the mountains.
When planning a trip, especially if travelling on dirt roads, a good average to use is 25km/h. Weather plays a huge part in Lesotho travel and roads are quickly churned up if there is rain and rivers can rise very quickly indeed.

There are two popular starting points for this depending on where you call home. Caledonspoort (Fouriesburg) is the entry point for visitors from Gauteng while Sani Pass is the preferred entry point of those travelling up from KwaZulu-Natal. For those choosing the Sani Pass route please allow roughly two and a half hours to complete the passage up to the Lesotho border post.

The Route (Clockwise from Sani Pass)

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Picture of the Month

Lesotho Wild Orchid

On the spur of the moment we decided to start our year off somewhere beautiful and not sorting our house out at home as we had originally intended. A few Internet searches led us to the Maliba Lodge Website and we were sold.  Seeing as this was a treat we decided to treat ourselves the whole way and book into the Mountain Lodge, even though the River Lodge looked as appealing.

A very pretty drive through the Free State and Lesotho brought us to Maliba, and three days of rejuvenating bliss.  Even the rainy weather was perfect and we spent our first afternoon on loungers on or deck, wrapped up in blankets, listening to the rain and watching the sky change patterns as the clouds moved over and around the mountains, always giving us a new sneak preview into what might lie beyond the drizzle.

On our second day we took a chance gap in the drizzle to walk to the Black Pools. Along the way we stopped to marvel at many things that captivated and delighted us along the way, including the small wild flowers and orchids in abundance. We enjoyed our lunch at Black pools in some glorious watery sunlight, risked a quick swim that ended with the rain coming down again. Walking back in the rain was fun, made even nicer with the knowledge that at the end of our rainy walk a cosy room and warm bath awaited us.

Three days at Maliba was all it took to restore us completely and prepare us for a year ahead that is going to be filled with sufficient challenges.  We will definitely be back.Maliba Lodge peak cap

A big thank you to Ann for sending us this image. Ann has won herself a Maliba Mountain Lodge peak cap which we will be sending to her shortly.
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Upcoming Festivals and Events

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Upcoming events

March Highlights

3rh March - Vintage Tractor Fair
5th March - Surrender Hill Marathon
11th March - Moshoeshoe Day
11th March - Intro to Sesotho Language and Culture weekend
17th March - Wild Trout Fly Fishing Festival
19th March - Garmin Wartrail Tri-Challenge

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Joke of the month

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Joke of the month

It all began with an iPhone . . .

March was when my son celebrated his 15th birthday, and I got him an iPhone. He just loved it. Who wouldn't?

I celebrated my birthday in July, and my wife made me very happy when she bought me an iPad. My daughter's birthday was in August so I got her an iPod Touch.

September came, so for my wifes birthday I bought her an iRon.

It was about then that the fight started ...

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