Lesotho, 27-31 December 2004. By George Goswell
From the original 9 vehicles that had shown interest in going along on the trip, only 3 vehicles made the trip. The rest lost out on an excellent trip as each campsite we found was better than the last one, the weather was good, the distances travelled not too far and the company excellent.
Day one. From the meeting place at the Spar in Underberg we travelled via Swartberg and entered Lesotho at Ramatseliso Gate and onto Sehlabathebe National Park for night 1. We arrived at about 14h00, which left plenty of time for a walk to the edge of the escarpment and explore the many rock formations.
Woke up the next morning with a flat back tyre. Changed the wheel for 1 of the two spares I carry. We left Sehlabathebe and followed the road towards Qacha Nek. Lovely views of the Tsoelike River along the way. We turned off after Ha Matlali and drove down to the Tsoelike Bridge. The bridge is still standing but the road now goes across a new concrete bridge. A pity as the old bridge is a 1 way suspension bridge decked with wooded planks. Stopped on the new bridge and had to change my other back tyre for my 2nd spare, flat no.2. The 1st flat was caused by a nail and the 2nd a thorn through the sidewall. From here we continued going west towards Qacha Nek. At the turn off to Qacha Nek we turned right and followed the Senqu River towards Sekake. The turn off we where looking for was after “Christ the King”, but with the road being upgraded the signs where missing. We travelled about 5km past the turn off before I realised that we where going away from the river. Turned around and headed back looking for the signs. Stopped and asked a local couple for directions. Not understanding his language and his limited English we now had a guide in my vehicle and a track to follow. After about 10km down a side road we arrived at the river, which turned out, not to be the place I was looking for. They seemed pleased as they had gained a lift to the ferry. Off we went looking for the turn off which would take us to the Gorge we where looking for. As we passed through a small village one of the locals offered to act as our 2nd guide. He understood English and said that he knew the track to the “two rivers”. After about 5km I stopped and got rid of the guide with a beer as he was talking about staying with us for the night and would travel with us the next day. His directions lead us down a short rocky track and along the banks of the Senqu River to an excellent flat-grassed spot next to some sheep shearing sheds. With no locals around and only a few herd boys we set up camp for the night. The campsite is at the confluence of the Senqu and Senqunyane Rivers. The Senqu was very full and flowing strong.
Day 3 had us backing tracking along the trail we had travelled the day before. At the end of the road at Mozi just before it meets the “main” road we found the trail that we had missed the day before. A short 4x4 track takes one down to the bottom of the gorge. We set up camp right at the entrance of the Seforong Gorge. The cliffs tower above you and the gorge cuts through the middle. Once camp was set up it was an easy walk down the gorge, over and under boulders, past a small waterfall to the confluence of the Senqu and Seforong rivers. The Senqu was dirty but it did not stop Ryan, Jethro and my self going for a swim to the other side. This must rate as one of the most scenic spots in Lesotho.
Going back up the pass to the road proved no problem for the Land Rovers and a big relief for Richard who had doubts about the bottom section.
Onto Mphaki and the turn off to Ongeluksnek. Missed the turn off at Lazaro and went down the Maphooaneng Pass to the River at the bottom. Stopped here for a bush dash and a bite to eat. Excellent views of the valley as one descents the pass. Travelled back up the pass and turned off towards Ongeluksnek. Set up camp at Lake Letsie and went for a swim in the lake. Not a good idea as the water is under a meter deep but the mud on the bottom has no bottom.
No work has been done on the pass in a long time and the recent rains have washed deep ruts down the pass. Not bad but technical in places.
The worst road we travelled on over the 5 days we spent in Lesotho was the road from the border post to the tar road before Matatiele. The best camp site is a hard one as all where excellent.
Colin and Elizabeth Butler Waterfall 1957 Series 1 PUP
Remember it’s your club and you will get out of it what you want to. You have purchased THE BEST 4 x 4 x FAR and now its time to use it. See you at the next club event.
|When||What, where||More Info.|
|20-22 Jan 2005||Duzi Canoe Marathon||
Spend 3 days in the Umgeni Valley helping out with marshalling. More fun than work. Give Henry a call for more info. Cell : 0829220370
|30 Jan||3 Water Falls, Shongweni||
Back of Shongweni. A 4x4 trip to three water falls in the area. Meet at 09h00 at the Shongweni turn off after the tollgate. Dirt road to the 1st waterfall, dirt, tar, dirt to the 2nd and low range to the 3rd. Call George for more info.
|19-20 Feb 2005||LROC KZN 16th AGM Eston Farmers Club||
The 16th AGM of the LROC KZN will be held out at Eston. Come for the day or camp over BUT you need to be at the AGM. Saturday am will be a Gates Event in the quarry above the club, with the AGM taking place at 15h00 followed by a braai and social in the Club House afterwards. Sunday will be a trail ride through the farms in the area. The trail will not be the same one that we ran on the weekend of the 28 November. More info to follow.
|19-21 March||Darkest Africa - Weenen||
Darkest Africa is on the banks of the Bushmans River outside Weenen (Escort). Plenty to do with +/- 30km of 4x4 trails, fishing, hiking trails, bird watching, tubing on the river etc. Camping at R40.00 pppn. See below for more info or give Henry a call.
The bottom of the 1st Waterfall is reached along dirt roads. Good for Freelander and all the rest.
Waterfall 2 is viewed from the top and is reached with a tar section and then a dirt road. Good for Freelander and all the rest.
Waterfall 3 is the smallest and reached from the bottom along a trail next to the river, crossing it in a few places. Not suitable for Freelanders. with their limited ground clearance and lack of low range. The rest of the vehicles should have no problems. Call George for more info.
Trail 28 November 2004. Tented Camp Information
The lunch stop on the trail was at a small-tented campsite in the valley. The camp is available to be booked out for up to 8 people staying in the 4 Tents on wooden decks with a further 8 people camping, total 16 people. The camp has all you will require except your bedding and food. At R50.00 per head with a minimum charge of R250.00 per night it is excellent value. Give Graham or Harold Stainbank a call at 031-7811228 for more info or to book an excellent quiet weekend amongst the birds and game.
CONTACT DETAILS FOR THE AAWDC
Please if you need to query anything or just want to chat, CONTACT ME THE PRO and I will sort it out from there!!
The 086 number will be active from 01 January 2005. We have been given a Golden Number and it is: 08611 AAWDC (or 08611 22932 if your phone does not have alphas)
So please contact me on this number if you need to chat or query anything. This number can accept facsimiles as well. Just a reminder that the email@example.com e-mail address is active!! So to summarise, the contact details for the AAWDC are:
Telephone Number 08611 AAWDC
Facsimile Number 08611 AAWDC
E-mail Address firstname.lastname@example.org
Postal Address PO Box 3357
(Newsletters & PRO related items) Louis Trichardt (Makhado)
THE AAWDC WEBSITE AND PROCEDURES www.aawdc.org.za
Schalk Kruger has greatly improved the website!!! If you have not recently gone to have a look at the website, please do so now - you will be pleasantly surprised... If you have not read the AAWDC procedures featured on the website - please also do so NOW!!! We really need to get all these things in place so that things can start running smoothly... and we of course need your help and support to do this...
THE AAWDC AGM The date and venue for the next AGM have been set:
Saturday, 19 February 2004 at TOYOTA South Africa auditorium at 13:30 for 14:00
Please bookmark your diaries. I know it is always a problem for the Members from far to join but please make a hearty effort for this one. I am going to see if I can arrange better accommodation rates close by to make your trip and effort all that more viable and affordable... WATCH THIS SPACE...!!!
Mnyameni Update For those who escape to Mnyameni, Transkei please NOTE that the following has been implemented with immediate effect. To camp at Mnyameni one now has to pre book and pay before making the trip to Mnyameni. (R15.00 per person per night)
Contact details are:
Nature Conservation in Umtata Bank Details for the direct deposit.
Contact Person Mr Government Province of the Eastern Cape
Phone no. 047-5311191 First National Bank
Fax no. 047-5312887 Bisho 210619
Account No. 62025758535
Proof of payment needs to be presented to the local field ranger, Goodman (Cell 0726932634) on arrival at the campsite. Proof of payment is a copy of the deposit slip and a reference number from Mr Government. No “proof of payment” and you will NOT be able to camp at Mnyameni.
Sehlabathebe National Park,(SNP) Lesotho. The office of Lesotho National Parks herby wishes to inform all users of the SNP lodge facilities that effective 1st November 2004, the new tariffs will be as follows : (Maloti M1.00 = R1.00)
ACCOMODATION Per Night
Single fee M 80.00
Double room with 2 beds M 120.00
Family room with 4 beds M 200.00
Entire Lodge M 360.00 (I am told that this might change to M 600.00)
ACCOMODATION Per Person Per Night
Backpackers Hostel M 50.00
Camping M 50.00 (used to be M 10.00. Facilities are still only a toilet and a cold shower.)
Fire wood and/or coal M 5.00
Fishing License M 50.00 per person per year
EQUINE RENTAL FEES Per horse per trip
Bushmans Nek to SNP and vise versa M 80.00
Guided horseback Safaris within the park M 60.00
Guided horseback Safaris outside the park M 100.00
COMMITTEE OF SOUTH AFRICA
BACSA PRESS RELEASE
In reaction to the announcements by Marthinus van Schalkwyk, Minister for Environmental Affairs and Tourism, BACSA Chairman Gary Cooper reacted as follows :
“BACSA and other interested parties have since 2002 seriously lobbied for better vehicular access to the beaches by the disabled and are therefore pleased to note that the proverbial “penny” has eventually dropped in the Ministry and Department of Environmental Affairs. It must, however, be made clear that the Regulations have always provided for the disabled to have access to the coastal zone but the totally autocratic and dictatorial management style of Vali Moosa [ former Minister ] and the Department has always been the problem. One now only wonders now whether the Minister will re-assess the previous applications submitted at great cost by disabled persons in the past only to have such applications turned down?”
“BACSA also fails to see the differentiation between persons with a physical disability on the one hand and other persons who suffer from a serious medical disability such as for instance heart conditions, etc. who are also in fact prevented from access to the coastal zone should the not be allowed to have vehicular access.”
“Although the involvement of organizations such as the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities and the Quadriplegic Association of South Africa can be seen as a positive move, every person with a disability may not necessarily want to be registered or affiliated with such organizations and enforcing such affiliation/registration is surely in conflict with a persons Constitutional Right of Freedom of Association – the same can be said for fishermen who now will be forced to join clubs/organized angling, whether they have been fishing for 30 years or longer as individuals.”
“The ‘remarkable signs of environmental recovery’ as proclaimed by the Minister is nothing more that emotional politicking by the Minister as this recovery has to date not been documented by any scientific research and for that matter neither has the so-called negative impact by 4x4 on beaches ever been proven – The Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park Authority in it’s interim IDMP [ August 2000 ]state the following :
Turtles “a turtle monitoring and conservation programme is well established in the Maputaland and St. Lucia Marine Reserves. The turtle population appears to be increasing. This is a unique situation in the western Indian Ocean.”
Ghost Crabs “The species in these habitats provide a protein rich harvest for rural people.”
Beaches “Incessant wave action and occasional storm surges continually rework the sandy beaches. Few species can survive these conditions.”
“BACSA is awaiting outcome of the socio-economic impact study the Minister already announced on 1 October 2004 [ which has not happened to date ] and hopes the Minister will not once again change the Regulations once the findings are not to the liking of the Ministry and Department. In the meantime coastal communities will still have to contend with the serious economic impact over the festive season whilst the Minister and his officials enjoy laden festive tables.”
“The Constitutional Rights of the ordinary South African citizen are still ignored by the Ministry and the Department and BACSA will in 2005 take this issue to the highest authority to ensure that ordinary citizens can also enjoy their beaches.”
Issued by K.W,. Thaumueller
P.O. Box 352, St. Lucia., 3936
Tel. / Fax. [ 035 ] 590 1226
BACSA PRESS RELEASE
The following response was given by the Minister of Environmental Affairs & Tourism resulting from questions asked by DA Spokesperson on Environmental Affairs, Mike Ellis, in Parliament :
" 89. THE MINISTER OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM ANSWERS
There is not a total ban on 4x4 vehicle use in the coastal zone, but rather controlled access. The present regulations will be amended by year end subsequent to a significant consultation process, which has already been concluded.
Interested parties have already participated in the consultation process in terms of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act when the draft amendment regulations were published for public comment in April 2004."
One now can only wonder what is going to happen to the so-called "socio-economic impact study" the Minster publicly committed himself and the Department to on 1 October 2004 during the meeting in Durban. Any amendment to the existing
regulations makes no sense without the issue being addressed in a holistic manner and it is common cause that the socio-economic impact is in fact the most critical element.
Since July 2004 BACSA has endeavoured to obtain detailed information on the policies of the Minister and the Department on the "ban" of vehicular use in the coastal zone but to date the only response that from the said was that :
".....the information you seek is either not a "record" for the purposes of public disclosure or not available as it does not exist."
It is presently still BACSA's view that the existing regulations are not the entire point of contention, but rather the autocratic and Draconian implementation of the said regulations by the Ministry and the Department that needs to be addressed. The fact that the Ministry and Department refused the approval of any of the applications made to the Minister, even those like the Greater St. Lucia Wetland Park Authority application substantiated by various scientific reports, therefore creates the perception that the Ministry and Department acted either male fide or with a definite pre-disposition not to allow the general public to use vehicles in the coastal zone when the regulations were drafted, approved and promulgated albeit the regulations making provision for applications to the Minister.
The Department and the Ministry forever changing the goalposts and the absence of a publicly available policy document in this matter at the cost of people's livelihood in order to score some political points.
BACSA will, however, continue with the efforts to ensure that all South Africans will have the opportunity to share the birth-right to utilise natural resources in a sustainable manner, which privilege the Ministry and Department seem to reserve for a select few.
Some pictures from the Eston Gate’s and Trail Weekend.
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