My first impressions of Lesotho were brown, a lot of brown, sprinkled with little specks of bright colours, like candy coated buttons on a caramel cake.
In retrospect, this perspective was right, as the vast mountainous highlands areas do appear brown at first sight. It is only on closer inspection that you see green brush, goats, sheep and birds and all kinds of wriggly and crawly things. However, the little specks of colour were in fact shepherds wondering through lonely terrain, all swaddled tightly in bright blankets
We all want to believe that the tribal dance in the village we travel so far to see is more “real” than the one performed at dinner at the airport hotel. We want to believe that the bread we had at the small Basotho village is more “authentic” than the overpriced snack that tourists pay for at the Waterfront markets.
Today authenticity has become the goal and measure of travel. “Real” travellers are avoiding expensive, posed tourist attractions, preferring to wander off the “beaten track”. Many avoid the “touristy” places and are discerning about wanting to have ‘real’ cultural experiences.
“The San believe that rain is caused by an animal that flies across the sky, which when captured, is brought to the land requiring rain, it is then cut so that its blood can “rain” over the land. Kaggen, the mantis, it is said threw up into the air the moon which was his shoe. He also had a pet eland, his wife was a dassie (rock rabbit) and an adopted daughter was a porcupine” (it was believed that the stars were shining porcupines dotted in the sky). http://www.sahistory.org.za/article/rock-art
Water poured down the Sani Pass after heavy rains on Saturday night. As I drove with up the Pass with Charles Major from Major Adventures, waterfalls sprayed from the side of cliffs and formed silver lines running down the sides of the mountains.
Earlier our guides and been stopped with all other vehicles from driving up the Pass by the South African Border Control. The explanation was that during the darkness the rivers had swollen and sections of the road were washed away and impassable by vehicles.
“On a good day you can see until tomorrow” is how views from the edge of the Sani Pass have been described.
Standing on the summit staring into deep crevices and across coloured walls of rock, it is daunting to imagine that 160 million years ago enormous internal pressures from the core of the earth tore apart Gondwanaland and resulted in vast cracks in the crust of the African Continent. Through these fractures molten lava flooded over the shores of Africa and through lakes and swamps where dinosaurs had lived and died.
In October 1998 Charles & Gardi Major opened their doors and started Major Adventures in Underberg.
I grew up in this area and spent much of my youth on the Sani Pass when my father Arthur Major was a partner in Mokhotlong Mountain Transport (MMT), now Sani Pass Tours. My father was involved with the building of the Sani Top Chalet while with MMT. I began driving tourists up the Pass when I was only 19 years old.
I always wanted to return to live in Underberg again and hence Major Adventures was born. We started with one vehicle – an old Toyota Landcruiser (Uncle Bob) which I drove every day. Uncle Bob eventually had to retire and now 18 years down the line, we have a small fleet of vehicles, all driven by qualified, passionate guides.