August 2010 Edition 1

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left Welcome to The Blanket Wrap

Welcome to the First Edition of Blanket Wrap, a newsletter that will enlighten you about the spectacular mountain kingdom of Lesotho. We have based our name and design on the traditional tribal blanket which is an instant symbol of Lesotho and its people.

We hope this newsletter will be your first reference if you plan to visit, whether you are interested in a cultural experiences, future festivals or just want to know the best time to visit and experience something unique. If you have been a visitor, we hope you will read with great fondness and it may inspire you to return someday.

Please forward this newsletter on to anyone that might be interested in what Lesotho has to offer and encourage them to subscribe (use the link at the bottom of our email).

PS: If you have comments, images or news please send an email or picture to the editor.


About Lesotho

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Lesotho is a democratic, sovereign and independent country totally surrounded by its neighbour, the Republic of South Africa. The Kingdom of Lesotho is one of the three remaining monarchies in Africa. You can read more about Lesotho here.

Each edition we intend to feature a unique little-known story about the culture, history or natural environment that will help you discover the essence of Lesotho. This month its the Tokoloshe.



The Tokoloshe

The TokolosheWidespread throughout Lesotho is a belief in the tokoloshe. This is a mythical creature much like a leprechaun. It has been descibed as a dwarf gremlin-like creature with horns curving downwards and legs and arms without palms. The tokoloshe is usually invisible to adults. It achieves its invisibility via a magic pebble which it keeps in its mouth. There are many stories about this mischievous small creature and belief about its existence is strong. It is the reason the Basotho people build round houses called Rondarval’s so that he cannot hide in the corners.

The Tokoloshe can only be caught by a medicine man or Sangoma who uses a magical substance from a dead tokoloshe to trap, paralyze and kill it. Shops and stalls throughout Lesotho sell 'multi' a traditional medicine for protection against this supernatural being.

So next time you are in Lesotho ask about this creature and you will hear some very interesting and funny stories.


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Current News

Prince Harry rode into a mountain village on horseback in a colourful African royal procession before introducing his brother William to one of the world's poorest countries. (17 Jun 2010)

As the two brothers began a two-day visit to the southern African nation of Lesotho, Prince Harry was given the rare honour of a royal procession to welcome him to the impoverished kingdom, where his Sentebale charity helps vulnerable children.

Princes Harry and William riding in LesothoWearing a traditional tribal blanket and a beanie hat, the prince rode a Basotho pony through the village of Semongkong, escorted by villagers on ponies, and greeted by ululating women and shepherd boys bouncing in unison along the route.

Prince Harry and Lesotho's Prince Seeiso, the King's youngest son, spent much of the day visiting schools that Sentebale, the charity he helped set up in memory of his mother, has built or supported for village children and nomadic shepherd boys.

He was joined later by Prince William, who was keen to find out the problems facing children in Lesotho, where 23 per cent of adults among a population of 1.9 million are HIV-positive and average life expectancy is 34.

In Semongkong, a village nestling between snow-capped mountains 8,000ft up in the remotest part of Lesotho, the brothers met herd boys as young as eight who walk miles to attend night school after spending their days tending sheep and cattle.


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Water - liquid gold

Valley of the pools Tshelanyanne National Park

In June 2010 I visited Tshelanyanne National Park in Northern Lesotho for a 2 week stay with my son. I had researched this area for some time from my home in Australia via Google Earth. I was keen on finding new undiscovered area’s within the park. An interesting valley 5k’s from Maliba lodge, (where we had been staying) was identified as worth exploring. None of the local rangers knew anything about this area and it is likely it had only ever been visited by local herd boys.

We set out early morning on a day hike to travel up this valley as far as we could. What we found were amazing series of deep crystal clear swimming holes that cascaded down the valley one after the other, 17 in total. over a distance of about 6ks Spectacular small waterfalls and amazing rock formulations added to the unforgettable scenery that is etched in my memory. This previously unnamed valley, is now call Valley of Pools. Where else could this happen but Lesotho.

Tsehlanyane rock pools in the Valley of pools

Valley of the Pools (pool 1)

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Picture of the Month


old man in Lesotho

Emma wrote to us recently with this story and included the stunning image opposite.

In July this year I went with 2 friends on my first visit to Africa.

First up we travelled to Zanzibar. Whilst it was beautiful, as a keen photograher I was disapionted to discover that the locals intensly disliked their photos being taken as they believed evil spirits would enter them from the camera. I got dirty looks and was yelled at a few times. I missed heaps of fantastic photo opportunities.

We concluded our travels with a week in Lesotho and were on a drive through the villages when we spotted a group of young kids waving at us from the side of the road. We stopped and when they spotted my camera they were enthusiastically insisting that I take their photo! More and more kids
seemed to gather around as they saw people with cameras! They loved it. All the kids were screaming and laughing until an old, frightening looking man walked down. Everyone fell silent. I was thinking 'uh oh' and held onto my camera for dear life imagining he was going to throw it off the mountain top for infesting all the local children with evil spirits! He didn't speak a word of English and just kept pointing at my camera! Eventually I got one of the better English-speaking kids to ask the old man what he was saying... yes, he wanted his picture taken because he had never seen what he looked like!!

The look on his face and the sound of his laughter when he saw himself on the display screen - priceless!

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What's on in August

Winter is at its zenith and that means only one thing: Quiksnow

Africa's premier snowboarding contest is gearing up to throw down at a new location that will have more rails, bigger kickers and easier access than previous events.Presented by Resolution, the contest will run from August 1 - 4 and is hosted for the first time by Afriski in the heart of the Maluti Mountains, a mere five hour drive from Johannesburg and six hours from Durban (on tarred roads all the way).

Another first will be the presence of Bag Jump, a device to safely attempt new moves without the risk of serious injury. Similar in concept to the foam pits used by FMX and skateboard pros, riders will have the opportunity to perfect their most dangerous tricks before taking them onto the snow.

DC Shoes will be getting involved for the first time with a Rail Jam happening on one of the evenings. A free ride format rewarding creativity and as opposed to a formal scoring format which penalises falling, riders will be rewarded with prizes ranging from snow gear and footwear to boards for the best showing of the evening.

QuicksnowL esothoAfter a one year hiatus Quiksnow is returning with a vengeance. A park with more rails than you can imagine and kickers ranging from the 3 - 20 m range are prepped and ready for South Africa's best to show what they are capable of. This will also be the first year that the Snowboarding championships have been run independently of the ski championships, which is a big vote of confidence for the fledgling sport. "We feel that the momentum Quiksnow has built up over the last few years has reached the point where the event can run on it's own steam, not only in terms of media and sponsors but in terms of riders and riding level," said Quiksilver marketing manager Dane Patterson. "The fact that the resort is fully booked is a testament to just how much Quiksnow has grown".

A dedicated team has spent weeks prepping the course, ensuring a run as outstanding as humanly possible. "We want riders of all levels to have a good time," commented Ollie Schwankhart, the event organiser and SA Snow sports Association representative, "But we also want to push the level of riding and build on the development and growth we've experienced every year. Our top guys need to have the facilities to prepare them for an international level of competition. A big part of that is creating top quality rails and kickers that will push the riders to the edge of what they can do."

That edge may be significantly beyond passed events, with a number of the top riders showing significant progression garnered from travelling to Europe and the US over the domestic off season. The recently held Kings Cup was marked by an intense clash between Marcin Jekot and Rueben Storbeck in the mens division. Marcin is probably the most competitively successful snowboarder in South Africa, but consecutive years riding and working in the resorts of North America have helped Rueben close the gap. Storbeck took top honours at King's Cup with a number of spins including a text book Backside 5 (a 540º rotation where the rider is unable to see his landing and must do so "blind"). Marcin's younger sister and fellow champion Marta Jekot is likely to continue her stranglehold on the Woman's Division and spectators will be looking to see if any challengers can end her domination of the Roxy Slopestyle and Slalom events.

Dark horses in the Mens Division include Kat Maponyane and Matt Amoretti, two of the younger, hungrier riders eager to earn the accolade of best in the country. Quiksilver team rider Maponyane has said "I've been to Quiksnow three times and was checking out the park earlier this week. I don't think I've ever seen it looking this good. There's a lot of chatter amongst the riders about how stoked they are." Either competitor has the skill to top the podium in Slopestyle.

Quiksnow 2010 is about speed and style, with two divisions: Giant Slalom and Slopestyle. Giant slalom involves getting down the mountain along a predetermined course as fast as possible and is a thrilling race against the clock. Slopestyle is more interpretive. Each contestant must navigate a series of kickers, rails and obstacles, utilizing the course to showcase their skill, style, and control. Both divisions guarantee thrills and spills, with presenting sponsor Resolution putting R1000 in cash in the hands of the rider deemed to have taken the worst slam of the event.

It's going to be glory, fun and chaos in the mountains in August, and all of it will broadcast on an upcoming episode of Boardriders TV on SuperSport..

Snowboarding in Lesotho

Photo: Quiksilver team rider Kat Maponyane midway through a frontside tailslide at the last Quiknow event. Photo by Barry Tuck.

Take a look at the AfriSki weather wall for the current snow conditions

There are ski and other winter packages available via Lesotho Lodge.

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Upcoming Festivals and Events



8th August
Clarens Mountain Bike (MTB) Challenge

4th -5th September
Fouriesburg Spring Fair

5th – 6th October
Morija Festival Cultural Competition

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Joke of the month



A weary traveller in Lesotho stops at a village, freezing cold from the high altitude a local gives him a warm blanket to wrap up in. That afternoon the same traveller is scorched by the midday sun and again saved by a passing local who gives him precious water to quench his thirst.

Later in the day walking towards a picturesque rainbow the traveller is caught in a violent hailstorm. Dripping wet, friendly villagers offer him shelter in their rondavel. The traveller is invited to party on but declines - stating "No thanks, I'm tired as a Tokoloshe" They looked at him limp to bed thinking "Another wet blanket tourist!"

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