Tag Archives: Lesotho

Playing catch-up

OUCH! Eleven days offline following a severe lightning strike – that was frustrating. Our iPhones helped, but let’s face it, they’re not a satisfactory substitute. What a relief to be fully connected again!

In the meantime, the 2011 enduro season is well underway. It kicked off with the Enduro World Cross Country held a few weeks ago at Hartebeespoort Dam near Johannesburg. Regular readers may remember this venue from last year, but here’s a pic to set the scene:


Nomadik Tents at Enduro World Cross Country, Hartebeespoort Dam

and another to put things in perspective:


Extreme Action from the EWXC Extreme Event – Feb 2011

Fortunately, the rider was fine. Tumbles aside, it’s a great sport – one that draws an awesome crowd together amid some of Southern Africa’s rural splendour. A case in point was the recent Enduro World training tour to Swaziland. We were hosted at the lodge overlooking the magnificent Maguga Dam:


A view from Maguga Lodge – Maguga Dam, Swaziland, Southern Africa

While the guys (and one gorgeous girl – Kirsten Landman, SA’s top lady enduro racer) sweated on their bikes, the rest of us relaxed,


Maguga Lodge deck, overlooking Maguga Dam, Swaziland

enjoyed a sunset cruise,


Sunset over Maguga Dam – Swaziland, Southern Africa

and explored the local arts and crafts centre, including the phenomenal Coral Stephens Handweaving industry:


Arts & Crafts centre – Piggs Peak, Swaziland


Coral Stephens Handweaving shop – Piggs Peak, Swaziland

The recent Lesotho Enduro was the first national race of the season. It took no prisoners; unanimously rated as hard core. Way to go, Dave, finishing 5th in the Masters Class and mere seconds off the podium – despite “youngsters” sneaking in from Seniors, while he’s another year older with nowhere else to go 🙂

In between pit stops, we crew kicked back and took in the scenery:


Mealie field in the early morning – Lesotho, Southern Africa


Herder with goats and enduro pits in the background – Lesotho

Although there’s always the tension that accompanies extreme sport, enduro is far less demanding on us than the riders. Still, tough as it can be, I reckon this smile tells a story:


Dave Estment – Maguga Dam, Swaziland

It’s the reason we’re preparing for the Enduro World Cross Country this weekend, and the Montagu national the next – another perfect excuse for a few days in Cape Town . . .

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Celebrating Southern African Getaways

Sincere thanks to the fabulous Christine Searle at SA-Venues, for including me in her awesome post: South Africans share their favourite local getaways! It’s a total treat to participate and discover what’s special to others too 😀

Picking only one favourite was impossibly tough, given the abundance we have here – as well as how privileged Dave and I have been, thanks largely to friends, family and our professional photography. I narrowed it down to the African bushveld, because I believe that nothing compares to the ‘soul vacation’ this offers. Here’s the longer list, incorporating more of Southern Africa and a few of the countless highlights we’ve enjoyed:

Londolozi private game reserve, SA – leopards:


LEOPARD CLOSE-UP – Londolozi Game Reserve, South Africa

Madikwe private game reserve, SA – wild dogs:


AFRICAN WILD DOG – Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Schotia Safaris, SA – lions:


MUFASA – Schotia Safaris, South Africa

Welgevonden private game reserve, SA – rhino’s & elephants:


RHINO SILHOUETTE – Welgevonden Game Reserve, Waterberg, South Africa


ELEPHANT SILHOUETTE – Welgevonden game Reserve, Waterberg, South Africa

Timbavati private game reserve, SA – buffalo:


BUFFALO BULL – Timbavati game reserve, South Africa

Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana – abundant game and raptors:


HIPPOS AT SUNSET – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana


FISH EAGLE TAKING OFF – Khwai River, Okavango Delta, Botswana

Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana – wide open spaces and occasional cheetah:


DAVE checking photo’s on our roofrack – Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana


CHEETAH RUNNING – Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Botswana

Mozambique – scuba diving, especially Guinjata Bay’s manta rays:


MANTA RAY WITH REMORA FISH – Guinjata Bay, Mozambique


ME SCUBA-DIVING – Mozambique, Southern Africa

Lesotho – enduro riding, in particular the extreme Roof of Africa:


ROOF OF AFRICA 2010 – Lesotho, Southern Africa


VIEW OF MALUTI MOUNTAINS – Lesotho, Southern Africa

Cape Town (where I grew up) – family, fun, Two Oceans & Table Mountain:


TABLE MOUNTAIN from V&A WATERFRONT – Cape Town, South Africa


VIEW OF CAPE POINT – Cape Town, South Africa

As far as wildlife goes, we’re planning perhaps the pinnacle trip for September next year: Serengeti under Canvas in Tanzania with &Beyond Africa, which follows the migration in luxury tents. CAN’T WAIT, especially since it will probably include scenes like these:


WILDEBEEST RUNNING – Masai Mara, Kenya


HOT AIR BALLOON ABOVE MIGRATING WILDEBEEST – Masai Mara, Kenya

I wasn’t lucky enough to accompany Dave to Kenya, where he shot these last two pics, so that’s high on my wish-list of wildlife destinations, along with others in Southern Africa, such as Namibia (where I was born), Zambia (where my father was born and raised) and Zimbabwe (where some of our special friends come from). And that’s just for starters. Ah, AFRICA…what’s to do but LOVE YOU?

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Raising ‘The Roof’!

What a WILD few days – The Roof of Africa 2010, which concluded on Saturday in Lesotho. Fittingly tough for “The Mother of Hardenduro”, it took no prisoners, conceding twenty-two gold medal finishers from a field of about two hundred and fifty. Twenty-four riders earned silver medals and a mere six took home the bronzes. Phenomenal achievements all! The war stories brought tears to the eyes and huge respect to the heart. This event that traverses the massive Maluti mountains, is not for sissies! Unfortunately, after a solid start, Dave’s race ended in a DNF when his motor blew halfway through Friday’s gruelling stint. Here are a few photo’s that tell a snippet of our story:


Team Ysterperd’s opening pit talk – Roof of Africa 2010


Bike Prep – Roof of Africa 2010


DAVE racing ‘around the houses’ on Thursday – Roof of Africa 2010


Parked in Friday’s boggy pits – Roof of Africa 2010


DAVE’s bike in Friday’s starting queue – Roof of Africa 2010


DAVE pulling off on Friday – Roof of Africa 2010


Team Ysterperd pit crew doing their thing – Roof of Africa 2010


Team Ysterperd pit crew at another DSP – Roof of Africa 2010


DAVE in good humour at the end of his race – Roof of Africa 2010


Ramabanta DSP – Roof of Africa 2010


Chilling at Ramabanta DSP – Roof of Africa 2010


Photographing on the dreaded Bushman’s pass – Roof of Africa 2010


Another view of Bushman’s pass – Roof of Africa 2010


Rider’s view of the finish line – Roof of Africa 2010

All in all, this year’s ‘Roof’ raised the bar. It was way better organized and more spectator-friendly than last year’s, drawing crowds of fans and some top international competitors. These were headed up by New Zealander Chris Birch, who won spectacularly for the third time in a row, followed by South Africa’s own Jade Gutzeit and Germany’s Andreas Lettenbichler, ‘Lettie’ for short. Here they are at the Red Bull finish line:


CHRIS BIRCH at the finish line – Roof of Africa 2010


CHRIS BIRCH’s smile after winning the Roof of Africa 2010


Jade Gutzeit at the finish line – Roof of Africa 2010


JADE GUTZEIT with his wife Rina after the Roof of Africa 2010


LETTIE tossing his bike – Roof of Africa 2010


LETTIE punching the air – Roof of Africa 2010


LETTIE after finishing The Roof of Africa 2010


Champagne on the podium – Roof of Africa 2010

To read more about all the guts and glory, visit: www.roof-of-africa.com, and for loads more photo’s, here’s a link to Dave’s Facebook album: Roof of Africa 2010.

Sincere THANKS to all our friends who helped us tremendously, huge CONGRATS to the winners and WELL DONE to everyone who took part! One thing’s for sure: our deposit will be paid the moment booking opens for next year.

Now, just in case you’re thinking the event is all about the riders, this video explains a whole lot more: Continue reading

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The Case for Clean Water – Blog Action Day 2010

Don’t spill, you’ll waste it! Precious drops sink into the hot sand as I mentally admonish myself, pouring water from a 25l canister into a basin. It’s time to wash my hair and there’s not a chance the shower will do it. A scant spray at best, I’d hog our whole supply that way. This is the Central Kalahari Desert and water is scarce, so we’ve brought all our own. Along with a potent reminder not to take things for granted. Such as the basic essential that we’re blessed to have on tap back at home. Like countless other people, but unlike almost a billion around the globe. Here are a few pics to set the Kalahari scene:


DAVE doing the manly thing – Central Kalahari, Botswana


‘SOMEBODY’S WATCHING YOU’ – Central Kalahari, Botswana


LIONESS on the prowl – Central Kalahari, Botswana


STORM BREWING – Central Kalahari, Botswana

It’s Blog Action Day today, which means that thousands of us are posting about Clean Water, this year’s extremely worthy topic. Accordingly, today offers the perfect opportunity to say THANK YOU, and for that matter, in writing. Having recently visited Lesotho, Dave and I witnessed women carrying water from rivers to their rural dwellings, high on hillsides. Back-breaking work, to be repeated in endless cycles. Our Blog Action Day team have provided significant insights into the world’s water crisis, including the statistic that “African women walk over 40 billion hours each year carrying cisterns weighing up to 18 kilograms to gather water, which is still usually not safe to drink.”


WOMAN CARRYING WATER – Lesotho, Southern Africa

The Lesotho rivers appear clean and likely are, fed from the majestic Maluti mountains. But we can’t be sure, nor of the mineral make-up of the water. Jason Green from Protector Treatment Systems drew my attention yesterday to their revolutionary solution that removes “contaminants such as silt, colloidal particles, bacteria, viruses, protozoa, cysts, metals, fluoride and arsenic” and can “be powered and operated by children”. His business partner, George Rose, is quoted in their press release as saying: “I’ve seen people in Africa with skeletal fluorosis who can barely walk due to the mineral content of their water supply.” To read more, also of the pilot project in Kenya, visit www.protectorsystems.com.

This is just one example of the positive effort being applied to this issue internationally. Big up to the whole Blog Action Day crew for their part in it too. They offer a simple way for us to contribute, by signing their petition to “Stand for an International Water Treaty to Provide Clean Water Everywhere”. You can do that here: Sign Petition. Good for them also for making us mindful. Last week I blogged about teaching our puppies to swim, without a passing mention of the privilege of a pool. I won’t wait for our next trip to the Kalahari to say THANK YOU again, with sincere appreciation for an abundance of Clean Water.

Finally, speaking of Botswana, water and lions, here’s a pic of the thirsty cats that we found in a shower (from my post: Taking a shower on the Wild Side…together with Lions!) :


THIRSTY LIONS – Mabuasehube Game Reserve, Botswana

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Respite

Respite ↔ Reason


VIEW from RAMABANTA LODGE – Lesotho, Southern Africa

What drives us sometimes to resist respite, like toddlers fighting the urge to sleep? Such as prior to traveling, when every possible responsibility crowds the mind. This was the case last week, while I planned for Lesotho. Yet the sweetness of the let-go is all-encompassing. Every time. Lying on the sun-splashed lawn, everything but the present faded into insignificance . So why the conflict? It’s like entering into creative flow. That struggle to relinquish the tension of time dissolves into an absence of its importance.

Observing myself today, I become aware that the same can be said about exercise. Prioritising it above other pressures of life requires self-discipline. Peculiar really, since the benefits seep far deeper than bones, straight into soul. ‘Relax your face…take a deep breath and sigh it out.’ Pat’s peaceful words permeate our cells, touching a place of total Respite. I realize that it shares a home with Reason, giving rise to renewed perspective.

Quotes to consider:

“Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.” – John De Paola

“Art is a spiritual, immaterial respite from the hardships of life” – Fernando Botero

“I have a very full and busy life and occasionally I am asked, Scotty, how can you do all that you do? The most telling reply I can give is: Because I spend at least two hours a day doing nothing.” – M. Scott Peck

“One must be out-of-doors enough to get experience of wholesome reality, as a ballast to thought and sentiment. Health requires this relaxation, this aimless life.” – Henry David Thoreau

“It is familiarity with life that makes time speed quickly. When everyday is a step in the unknown, as for children, the days are long with gathering of experience.” – George Gissing

In line with that last quote, Patricia (our yoga instructor this morning) suggested experiencing our bodies in a spirit of adventure. Respite can similarly invite delight, such as this miniature flower that shimmered ‘hello’ on the Ramabanta lawn 🙂


LITTLE YELLOW FLOWER – Ramabanta Lodge, Lesotho

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Exploring Lesotho, the magical ‘Mountain Kingdom’

It’s early Spring in Lesotho, also sometimes called ‘Kingdom in the Sky’, thanks to the magnificent Maluti’s. High in the mountains, this independent enclave is completely surrounded by South Africa. Bright pink peach blossoms decorate the landscape, like paint spattered across dusty parchment.


RURAL DWELLING WITH BLOSSOMING PEACH TREES – Lesotho, Southern Africa


YELLOW CLING PEACH TREE – Lesotho, Southern Africa

A chill still stirs the thin air, settling on the crisp lawn that’s been rendered to straw. Ramabanta Lodge and its wonderful hostess, Rose, open their arms to our Enduro World tour. This is a training trip for the extreme Roof of Africa race, scheduled for November.


RAMABANTA LODGE – Lesotho, Southern Africa


A VIEW from RAMABANTA LODGE – Lesotho, Southern Africa

Tough as gladiators in their bulky gear, the bikers tackle enndless, rock-strewn gorges. Friday’s epic 5+ hour trail takes its toll. Some of the riders arrive well after nightfall, among sighs of relief all round. Dave’s toes are badly injured, earning my sympathy, mixed with delight at having his company for Saturday 🙂


DAVE’S DEJECTED KTM, AWAITING ITS NEXT RIDE

So we hop into the Touareg and head for the hills, particularly the famous Maletsunyane Falls at Semonkong (‘Place of Smoke’). The highest waterfall in Southern Africa, its single cascade drops 204 metres. Cradled in a spectacular canyon, it steals our breath away!


MALETSUNYANE FALLS – Semonkong, Lesotho, Southern Africa


TOUAREG overlooking the Maletsunyane Falls – Lesotho, Southern Africa

A local shepherd drifts over from his sheep, asking Dave (in good English) to take a photo.


LESOTHO SHEPHERD – Maletsunyane Falls, Semonkong, Lesotho

This place and its people exude peace, as if the rhythm of the seasons remains untarnished. Fields are systematically ploughed by men and their cattle, revealing rich, dark earth beneath winter’s arid dress.


MAN WITH OXEN PLOUGHING FIELD – Lesotho, Southern Africa

Meanwhile, women carry water and do the washing.


WOMEN CARRYING WATER – Lesotho, Southern Africa


RIVER SNAKING THROUGH VALLEY – Lesotho, Southern Africa


WOMEN AND CHILDREN DOING THEIR WASHING – Lesotho, Southern Africa

Horses and donkeys are the main mode of transport. Of people and supplies, as we discover when we stop for lunch at Semonkong Lodge. The only patrons present, we’re waited on hand and foot, leaving satisfied and smiling.


RIDERS ON HORSES – Lesotho, Southern Africa


DONKEY CARRYING SUPPLIES – Semonkong Lodge, Lesotho

Dinner back at Ramabanta is a noisy affair, alive with tales of triumph and torment. Another group of guys is still out in the dark, navigating their way with the help of a few headlights. It’s a dangerous game, enduro riding. Especially in Lesotho, home of one of the world’s most extreme events, The Mother of Hardenduro.  But inside, we’re warm, indulging in a delicious home-style dinner, rounded off with cling peaches, drenched in syrup and custard. They’re the legacy of January’s harvest, which filled four hundred bottles! Judging by today’s blossoms, it seems the next one will vie for first place:


PEACH BLOSSOMS – Ramabanta Lodge, Lesotho, Southern Africa


PEACH BLOSSOMS – Ramabanta Lodge, Lesotho, Southern Africa

We’ll be back, once summer washes the gardens lush green, and Lesotho beckons the Best of the Best back to take on The Roof!

For more photo’s from our trip, here’s a link to my Facebook album: Enduro World Lesotho Tour – Sep 2010.

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On the Enduro Trail…

As you may already have gathered from this blog, Dave is an avid enduro rider and racer, participating in South Africa’s National Pro Masters Class and sponsored by Pro Action KTM, as well as Venture Sport, who are the importers of top biking gear such as Scott clothing, Airoh helmets, HGS performance exhaust pipes, TCX motocross and superbike boots, etc. He did them all proud on Saturday, winning gold at the Enduro World X-Country held at Serendipity Eco Trails near Modimolle (previously called Nylstroom). Unfortunately, I forgot to take our cameras along – a mistake I won’t repeat this weekend at Montagu!

Instead, here are a few photo’s that you may enjoy, which Dave took last month on a training trip in Lesotho. One of the things that must be said for this sport, is that it takes the competitors (and us fans) deep into the heart of some spectacular countryside!


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Remembering “The Roof”!

Dave and I had the extreme pleasure and adventure of attending “The Roof of Africa” Enduro race in Lesotho two weeks ago. We were both spectating, but only because he broke his jaw a fortnight before on a training ride (which I’m happy to say is healing extremely well :-)). He was most disappointed, also on behalf of his sponsors, Proaction / KTM.

Here’s a pic of the team, hard at work on race prep, with the Lesotho Sun hotel in the background:

. . . and another of the car-park, from the top of the hotel, which was one of the two main venues where the riders’ support was set up:

Pity about Dave’s accident, but it was possibly for the best, since the event was reportedly off-the-scale insane this year, with many riders forced to sleep in the mountains, including a mate of Dave’s who spent the night in a shepherd’s hut. Only a handful finished (after route adjustments), from a starting field of around 220. On corrected times, South Africa’s Jade Gutzeit came in third, behind two New Zealanders: Rory Mead and Chris Birch (winner for the second year running). Awesome ride, guys!!! Andreas Lettenbichler from Germany was going exceptionally well too, before his bike broke down a few km’s from the end.

This was the international contingent at riders’ briefing, including 1 lady!

Termed “The Mountain Kingdom” in honour of the MAGNIFICENT Maluti mountains, Lesotho is spectacularly beautiful. We got to see plenty, guided by our friends Sonja & Tom Classen (of Dakar fame – the second South African biker ever to finish that rally, twice!!). Despite Dave’s broken jaw and liquid diet, he and Tom did about 12 hours of hectic riding over the course of the weekend, even helping the finishers over the final mountain pass, which was WILD. Sonja and I watched from another peak, hardly believing our eyes where they were man-handling their motorbikes! They lifted Tom’s good friend Uli Pop (hardcore rider and route marker) and one of the cameramen from Throttle Entertainment, who was in search of (and found) some intense action footage. Keep a lookout for their DVD which should be out soon and will no doubt be mind-blowing!

This map shows the Time Trial Route on Day 1 – NOT for the faint-hearted:

For a better idea of what the competitors were up against, check out this YouTube video:
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