Trips from Maseru

Hello, and welcome to the capital of the Mountain Kingdom, Maseru. As you may have noticed by now, there ain’t much to do in this town on the weekend, and given the tendency for guide books on South Africa to dedicate at most a dozen pages to the Free State and Lesotho (and over half the book to the Western Cape), and the fact that tourist information is somewhat ‘disjointed’ in Lesotho, this guide has been written to help you get the most out of your time here. Fortunately there are loads of places to visit and explore, some make good day trips, whilst others are better done overnight or on a long weekend. This guide is written on personal experience from 2 years of living in Maseru. You will get more out of this guide if you enjoy the outdoors and don’t have children in tow, and a car is pretty much essential.
1. Day trips: Free State Bloemfontein Lesotho 2. Weekend trips: Lesotho Heading north Heading west Heading south 3. City breaks Durban Port Elizabeth Kimberley Johannesburg 4. Appendix General accommodation guide. Good websites Other places worth visiting on longer trips Places NOT work visiting that your guidebook may recommend South African driving guide 2 2 4 5 7 7 9 16 17 19 19 20 20 20 22 22 23 23 24 24

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1. Day trips:

Name
Free State

Description

Directions, distance, websites
(Roads are tarred unless otherwise stated. 4x4 not needed unless stated)

Price

The original Afrikaner homeland, the (Orange) Free State does not feature prominently in many South African package tours. However the landscapes can be truly astounding – with the golden yellow countryside and deep blue sky seeming to extend into infinity – you’ll miss it after you leave! Nestled a few kilometres off the N8 to Bloemfontein this is the closest and perhaps the best game reserve that is an easy day trip from Maseru. A huge number of animals including zebra, wildebeest and other buck, and even some white rhinos. About 70km from Maseru, half way to Bloemfontein on the N8. Look out for the sign just past the Exel Garage (turn left). You can easily negotiate a discount on the game drive, around R40R50 per person.

Maria Moroka Nature Reserve

Caledon Nature Reserve

There is no walking allowed in the park (rhino) so you have It is next to the Thaba N’chu Sun, but don’t let to go on a game drive (2 that put you off, the hotel is much nicer than hours-ish) enquire in the Sun the Sun hotels in Maseru, and is some distance from the Thaba N’chu township. You can have a hotel. www.places.co.za/html/moroka.html nice meal afterwards in the hotel. A pleasant reserve on the banks of the Caledon About 1.5 hours from Maseru river. A good collection of game including kudu south along the R26 past and other antelope – the best thing about this Wepener – follow the signs, reserve is the absence of dangerous animals so about 15km on a good gravel you can go for a long walk and have a picnic. road. Unfortunately the Beautiful scenery. reserve is often closed on www.dteea.fs.gov.za/wild.htm weekends – phone in advance (051) 583-1920.

R30 ish per person Limited roads but can self drive, best to walk 2 of 24

Trips from Maseru – the expat guide to enjoying your weekends

Tussen-die-Riviere Game Reserve

Willem Pretorius Game Reserve

One of the larger game reserves in the Free State makes a feasible if long day trip. Based between the Caledon and Orange rivers and a long way from anywhere you may find yourself to be the only visitors that day, which adds to the Reserve’s charm. Big buck including haartbeest and kudu, and some white rhino. Walking is possible although not sanctioned by the park. Another Free State game reserve that makes a pleasant day trip – based around a dam on the Sand River near Winburg. A few dangerous animals (buffalo and apparently white rhino) make walking not allowed but easily done. Yet another Free State nature reserve that makes an easy day trip from Maseru. What sets it apart are the lions in the small enclosure in the middle of the park – although the enclosure is big enough to mean that you are not guaranteed to see the cats. The rest of the reserve is pleasant with open plains, wooded areas and a dam – nothing dangerous in the main park so walking is allowed. A small privately run reserve makes a good day trip, but you can stay overnight also. The big attraction are the (caged) white lions and there is even a tiger. It’s a bit like a small zoo but the animals seem happy enough.

A three hour drive from Maseru, including 1 hour on a good but unsealed road (passing the Caledon Nature Reserve). You could stay overnight in Wepener (Lord Fraser Guest House) to space out the driving.
www.dteea.fs.gov.za/wild.htm

R30 per car (ish) Self drive

www.sa-venues.com/gamereserves/fs_willempretorius.htm

About 2 hours from Maseru, near Winburg. Enter from the eastern gate on the R72. It’s signposted.

R30 per car (ish) Self drive

Soetdoring Nature Reserve

30 minutes north of Bloemfontein on the R700.
www.southafricatravel.net/kalahari/e6ofs03.htm

Cheap

Camorhi Game Reserve and Lodge, Bethlehem

Two hours from Maseru. Take the R26 north from Bethlehem, turn right onto the R714 and then another right onto the (unpaved) S175. About 5km. Signposted.
www.places.co.za/html/9221.html

About R30 to visit for the day

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Bloemfontein

I imagine you have already visited this delightful place, however you may not have been to: Olivenhaus Art Gallery – set in the old South African state house a few kilometres north of the centre of Bloem – exhibits usually excellent temporary collections of contemporary art and photography downstairs with an interesting permanent collection on the first floor. Beautiful sculpture garden outside with a good quality café of the terrace – a much more pleasant atmosphere than coffee on the Waterfront, try the carrot cake!
www.nasmus.co.za/OLIEWENH/OLWH.HTM

Useful map

www.bfngc.co.za/images/Big Directions Map.jpg

Follow the R700 north and The gallery turn left on to Harry Smith is free. The Street. Can be tricky to find so café is take a map. reasonably priced.
maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en &q=bloemfontein&ie=UTF8&z=16&ll =29.097183,26.217713&spn=0.0093, 0.019956&t=h&om=1

Naval Hill game reserve – also north of Bloemfontein and a nice way to relax after a day in the city’s sterile shopping malls. Naval Hill is the world’s only game reserve to be completely surrounded by a city. The good thing is that there are no big animals so you can safely go for a walk or have a picnic. You also get nice views over Bloemfontein. Preller Square – OK, its just another shopping mall, but worth visiting for its Cape Town Fish Market (sushi), nice deli, and large Woolworths Food store Bloemfontein Armour Museum – now this is off the beaten Bloemfontein track and is a good one for the (male) kids. An interesting collection of Apartheid era weaponry, including a fascinating assortment of old Soviet tanks the South Africans captured in Angola. Trips from Maseru – the expat guide to enjoying your weekends

Turn right off Aliwal Street (not the R700) there is a sign for Naval Hill Backpackers. Park next to the old observatory if you want to have a walk, otherwise drive around the circuit. North of the centre on Barry Hertzog West of town on the R64 towards the N1– turn right into the Tempe Military Base, it is well signposted.

Free Self drive / walk

Free

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Lesotho
Molumi Ntsi Lodge

Sadly there isn’t that much to see in Lesotho – however the big advantage it has over South Africa is the communal land ownership and hence the lack of fences. Drive off in to the countryside, park the car, and walk up the nearest hill or along the nearest river – perfect for a Sunday afternoon. The lodge itself is closed but it is a nice spot for a day walk – park in the lodge’s car park, cross the bridge and follow the river. The Lodge has been sold off by the Government (it acquired the place after the Lesotho Bank liquidation) and will hopefully be redeveloped soon. Just a few kilometres past the Molumi Ntsi Lodge this ageing place offers a variety of pony treks on a variety of ponies! Very cheap compared to Malealea or Semonkong due to the bureaucratic inaction in increasing prices in line with inflation. About 1 hour from Maseru, follow signs for Mohale dam. Free

Government Pony Trekking Centre

About 1 hour from Maseru, follow signs for Mohale dam.

R20 ish for a day ride

Mohale Dam

There are no other facilities at the place. It has recently been sold off with the Molumi Ntsi Lodge so check whether it is still operating before heading off. The smaller of the two dams should be on your list Two-hours-ish from of things to see if you are here for a year or more, Maseru, follow the signs. Check with the LHDA office but don’t forget it is only a dam. It’s a nice easy drive from Maseru through some fairly spectacular on Kingsway about opening scenery. There is an information centre there and times of the information centre (next to Chicken a tourist class hotel (that is always empty). Nowhere really to go walking however. Potentially Lickin’ on Kingsway). you could bring your own canoes, jet skis etc. and head out on the lake.

Free

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Katse Dam

More impressive than Mohale but also a further drive (4 hours from Maseru). To see the dam from the top you have to go to Katse village, get permission then double back to the dam. No permission was needed to go to the bottom of the dam. Take some food, have a picnic. There is tourist class hotel overlooking the dam that would probably make a nice place to stay, but it may not be open. You could combine this with a trip over Sani Pass. Stay in Mokhotlong or Sani Top Chalet. A very random piece of architectural splendour in the Lesotho countryside – and a nice area for an afternoon walk

4 hours from Maseru – take Main North to Leribe then turn right. Check with the LHDA office on Kingsway about admission and the hotel (next to Chicken Lickin’ on Kingsway).

Small charge?

Superb sandstone bridge

20 minutes from Maseru on Main North – near the collapsed blue painted building on the left hand side before the Avenue of Trees – you’ll need to search for it (Google Earth?)

Free

Have a look at these websites for more Lesotho days out http://bird-flu.birdforum.com.my/index.php/2006/317/african-travel-tips-when-visiting-lesotho http://www.kingdomgateway.co.ls

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Weekend trips:
Being prepared to stay overnight increases the choice of destinations markedly. The quality of owner-run guesthouses means that the place you stay can be a destination in itself. Some of the places below could be visited in a day, but the overnight option is recommended.

Lesotho
Semonkong This place should be on every visitor’s itinerary. The Lodge is cosy and good by Lesotho standards, and the waterfall and surrounding scenery is one of the highlights of Lesotho (and South Africa). The Worlds Highest Commercial Abseil is also enjoyable, but not the adrenalin rush of whitewater rafting or bungee jumping. Not really feasible for a day trip, stay overnight. This one is in all the guidebooks, and deservedly so – although there is no big ticket item (like Semonkong’s waterfall) the Lodge is nice enough and the surrounding landscapes are varied and interesting. Pony trekking is the usual activity, in addition to walking. Please note that if walking pay for a guide (and agree the price in advance) otherwise you risk being pestered for hours by the local children. Can visit as a day trip or stay overnight. A three hour slog from Maseru, go in a 4x4 (anytime) or a hire car in the dry season (don’t use your own saloon). Take Main South, turn left for Roma and keep going.
www.placeofsmoke.co.ls

R70 for a dorm, R600+ for the abseil – see the website

Malealea

About 1.5 hours from See the Maseru, with 30 minutes on website a good unsealed road. Take main South towards Mafeteng and turn left about 10km past Morija – it’s signposted
www.malealea.co.ls

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Ramabanta

This place comes in third in the Lesotho Lodges near Maseru competition – Ramabanta is on the road to Semonkong and many end up here because they don’t want to ruin their suspension driving all the way to Semonkong Lodge. Its pleasant enough, with walks along the river being particularly picturesque.

About 1.5 hours from Maseru. Take Main South, turn left for Roma and keep going until you see the sign.
www.tradingpost.co.za

Pretty cheap

Afriski (Oxbow)

A must in winter after a snowfall. This is the tourist attraction in Lesotho. The one ski slope (about 1km in length) doesn’t exactly compare to the Alps or the Rockies but this is Africa after all. Good for beginners whilst Black Run experts will get bored, but still a good laugh. Can hire skis and snowboard (and switch during the day). The T-bar drag lift is difficult for newbie snowboarders. Plans are for a huge skiing / golfing resort, with lots of timeshare chalets for sale. You could do this in a tiring day trip from Maseru but better to stay overnight at the slopes, at the Oxbow lodge (10km away) or in Clarens or Fouriesburg (1 hour away). Could be combined with a trip over Sani Pass. Wouldn’t recommend trying to get to Sani Top Chalet after skiing – not a nice drive in the dark.

About 3 – 4 hours from Maseru, head out on Main North, past Leribe and Butha Buthe towards Mokhotlong. Watch out for black ice and burning clutch smells.
www.afriski.co.za

R320 for half day weekend ski rental and lift pass (a half day is enough for most people) R490 full day (weekend)

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Sani Pass

First the line on what vehicle you need. Ground clearance is the main issue - to go down you could do it in a backie but not a saloon. To go up a 4x4 is needed – it is steep and you need a powerful vehicle to make it. The best way to do Sani Pass is to drive down and go to Durban, the Natal Midlands or the Drakenberg and drive back to Maseru going via Clarens.

About 5-6 hours from Maseru going via Leribe, Oxbow and Mokhotlong (the road is tarred to Mokhotlong). A full day if taking another route (eg via Katse). Sani Pass is about 90 minutes from Mokhotlong.

Free – but remember your passport

Heading north
Rustlers Valley This place may get a mention in your guidebook – Rustlers Valley is nestled in the Maluti foothills north of Ficksburg. It’s a curious place, or rather the people are curious – at heart it’s a dagga smoking backpackers hangout – with various (white) new agers having an ‘alternative’ weekend away from Jo’burg. The place runs various drumming workshops, music festivals and pagan rituals – but on a quiet weekend it’s a good base for some hiking, book reading and relaxation. There is a dorm, camping and some neat and tidy rondevals. About 1.5 hours from Maseru. Follow the R24 north past Ficksburg – turn left about 9km after Ficksburg – its 15km down a good dirt road, although the last 1km into Rustlers is pretty bad if tackled in a saloon car. It’s signposted.
www.rustlers.co.za

R200-R300 for a cottage / rondeval R65 for dorm beds R35 for camping

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Franshoek Mountain Lodge

Next door to Rustlers Valley Franshoek offers an agreeable weekend getaway – the lodge offers Thai cookery classes and Thai massage (courtesy of resident chef / masseuse Cheumkeaw Bang-Orn) and an African steam hut (a very hot sauna). As with Rustlers there is some good hiking, with a river winding its way through the area and lots of sandstone cliffs.

About 1.5 hours from Maseru. Follow the R24 north past Ficksburg – turn left about 9km after Ficksburg – its 15km down a good dirt road. It’s signposted.

R250ish per person

www.franshoek.co.za

Fouriesburg

This small town hasn’t got much to see for the visitor, but there are some pleasing guest houses and guest farms in the area making an overnight stay worthwhile if you fancy a change from nearby Clarens. Nearby is the largest sandstone overhang in the southern hemisphere (Saltpeterkrans) and some hiking trails. Your guesthouse hosts will know more.

About 1 hour from Maseru – head north on the R24 – take the right hand turn to Clarens, after 200 meters turn left for Fouriesburg.
www.wheretostay.co.za/fs/ef/acc ommodation/fouriesburg.php

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Clarens

This quaint little town set around a grassy square and full of restaurants, art galleries, bed and breakfasts and a great cheese / book shop feels a million miles away from the grubby streets of Maseru. Peer under the surface however and you soon realise Clarens is not much more than a weekend retreat for rich Gautengers but that is no bad thing if you are just stopping for breakfast en route to Durban or staying overnight after a long Drakensberg hike. There is loads of accommodation in Clarens, most is self catering (as nearly every house is a holiday home) although there are a few B&Bs and hotels. There are 2 booking agencies which manage the self catering market (Mountain Odyssey & Clarens Tourism), and even with their monopoly position accommodation is quite cheap (R150 pp-ish). For self catering try Wren Cottage. For eating Clementines is the best restaurant in town – book in advance. Some breathtaking sandstone landscapes, and a few élan and zebra also. Golden Gate is a destination in its own right although regular travellers to the Drakensberg and Durban will find themselves passing through the park quite often. Golden Gate has a few good walks, including one up to the top of Sentential Rock - park by the gas station and enquire at the information centre. Avoid the Basotho Cultural Village, although kids may enjoy it.

1.5 hours from Maseru – take the R24 past Ladybrand & Ficksburg – turn right when you get to Fouriesburg and keep going. Its well signposted.
www.infoclarens.com www.clarenstourism.co.za

Due to abundant supply accommodat ion is quite cheap. Clementines restaurant is quite pricey

Clementines (058) 256 1616 Book your accommodation in advance – as most is self catering once the booking agents close (5pm) you can’t just turn up and go. Staying on one of the nearby Guest Farms makes a nice change. 10km past Clarens – follow the signs.
www.sanparks.org/parks/golden _gate

Golden Gate National Park (inc Qwaqwa nature reserve)

There is a R50 fee to go on the walks (debatable whether this is enforced) Free to drive through.

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Royal Natal National Park

The closest and arguably most spectacular part of the Drakensberg mountains was visited by (then) Princess Elizabeth in 1947 – hence the ‘Royal’ title. This park is home to the Amphitheatre – which will definitely be in your guidebook. The hiking here is excellent and the Park offers a more wild, but still comfortable destination than the more developed Champagne Valley. The Park can be divided into ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ which each have their own entrances – you can walk (but not drive) directly from / to the ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ parts. To drive from Upper to Lower takes about 2 hours looping around the top of the park. www.kznwildlife.com/royal_dest.htm About 3 hours from Maseru Around R10 This is the setting for the fabled ‘Chain Ladder’ – go past Clarens, through per car walk to the top of the Amphitheatre – and a must Golden Gate and turn right (payable as do for anyone with legs. However this is the only trail in the Upper section and hence there is only 1 just after you leave Golden you drive Gate (where the flyover is) into the days walking available here. But just to restate – drive through QwaQwa park) and the Chain Ladder walk is a must do – the view ( Phuthaditjhaba ) and R20 per from the top is something that will stay with you hiker for a good while, and climbing the chain ladders is keep going – through the (payable at bit of a rite of passage. entrance gate, along the the top brick road - take the right before to The walk is a good 5 – 6 hours so leave Maseru hand fork (left for the start the early and take a packed lunch and lots of energy Whittieshoek Mountain walk) food. The weather here can also be Resort) the last 10km is temperamental and the clouds can set in very unpaved and quite rough in quickly. The usual hiking rules on waterproof parts, you can do it in a clothing apply. saloon but you will hit the bottom of your car a few You can stay on the mountain in the rather times. If the mountain is dilapidated Witsieshoek Mountain Resort – but already covered in cloud perhaps the better option is to head into KwaZulu you may want to turn back Natal (maybe Windmill Cottages) or backtrack to now. Clarens for the night. 12 of 24

Royal Natal National Park (upper)

Trips from Maseru – the expat guide to enjoying your weekends

Royal Natal National Park (lower)

From the lower part of the Park you get the classic postcard view of the Amphitheatre. In contrast to the Upper part, the Lower offers a huge choice of walking trails and more accommodation options. The place to stay is definitely Thendele Camp which is in the Park itself and is the closest accommodation to the Amphitheatre. It is run by KwaZulu Natal Wildlife (KZN) and offers self catering chalets, complete with full kitchen, fireplace and of course braai pit. However Thendele is very popular at weekends – best to phone up KZN Wildlife (+27 33 845 1004) and ask which weekends are available rather than emailing back and forth. There is also the Mont-aux-Sources hotel outside the park – which is a more luxurious all inclusive affair. The wonderfully named Tower of Pizza is also an accommodation option.

About 4 hours from Maseru – drive past Clarens, through Golden Gate, around Sterkfontein dam(R74) and follow the signs
www.kznwildlife.com/royal_acc.h tm www.oriongroup.co.za/montoverview.html www.towerofpizza.co.za

Entrance is included if you are staying in the park, otherwise its less that R50

Cathedral Peak

The second nearest Drakensberg access point is somewhat exclusive with no cheapo accommodation nearby – Cathedral Peak Hotel and Didima Camp are the only choices – although you can drive in from Windmill Chalets or elsewhere. A good variety of trails with the Hotel being the starting point. To climb Cathedral Peak itself you have to be staying at the Hotel and start at 7am on Wednesday or Saturday only.

About 4 hours from Maseru. Head towards the Drakensberg, follow the signs.
www.cathedralpeak.co.za www.kznwildlife.com/cathedral_a cc.htm

Entrance to the Hotel is around R30 for nonguests

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Waaidam Guest Farm

North of Harismith Waaidam is a good example of a cheap and cheerful guestfarm. Owner Willem is that rare combination of Boer farmer, vicar and marriage guidance councillor(!) Waaidam offers real middle-of-nowhere escapism. Horse riding, game viewing and generally lounging around playing with the animals make for a relaxing weekend. A perfect weekend escape from Maseru – Champagne Valley offers a good range of accommodation to suit all budgets and some excellent restaurants, and most important beautiful mountain scenery. Inkosana Lodge must be one of the nicest backpackers going – with a great view of Cathkin Peak and plenty of trails leaving from the Lodge itself. www.inkosana.co.za Mid range would be somewhere like Cathkin Cottage www.cathkincottage.co.za Top range is the Champagne Castle Hotel – another all inclusive affair with buffet dinners and young children – but still pretty nice.
www.champagnecastle.co.za

20km north of Harismith on the N3
http://www.waaidam.co.za http://www.farmstay.co.za/Gues thouse_Details.asp?guest_id=90

R120 per person

Champagne Valley

No fees to About 4.30 hours from go hiking. Maseru. Head towards Bergville and then Winterton. Follow the signs.

For eating the Champagne Valley Country Club offers the best restaurant (thankfully no buffets!)

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Natal Midlands

This is Natal’s answer to the Western Cape’s winelands – best to visit after the rains when everything is green and lush. The ‘Midlands Meander’ is a piece of idyllic English countryside between Mooi River and Howick, just west of Pietermartizberg. Based around Nottingham Road there are lots of guesthouses, coffee shops, and even a brewery. In some ways it is more English than England! In terms of things to do pottering around, having lunch, a few gentle walks and soaking up nature’s beauty are the usual pastimes. Best to visit with your intended.
www.midlandsmeander.co.za

5 hours from Maseru. Head down the N3 towards Durban and take the turn off to Nottingham Road. You can avoid the road tolls by taking the R74 past the Sterkfontein dam – this will add up to an hour to your journey. Best to find and book a guesthouse before you arrive.

A good guesthouse will cost R200-300 per person sharing – R300+ for a single room.

A good value place to stay if heading to the Drakensberg or Durban – especially if leaving after work on a Friday
Windmill Chalets / Just over the Free State / KwaZulu Natal border Caterpillar and Catfish after the Sterkfontein Dam the Windmill Chalets are a cheap and cheerful place to lay your head – the 12 white-washed self catering cottages are both clean and comfortable – the Caterpillar and Catfish offers a good restaurant and B&B rooms. Get up early, make a coffee and enjoy the sunrise over the Natal countryside before heading towards Durban or the Drakensberg. 2.5/3 hours from Maseru on the R74 (Oliviershoek Pass) – on the right hand side just after you pass into KwaZulu Natal.
www.cookhouse.co.za

R220R240 per chalet (sleeps 12)

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Heading west
Langberg Game Farm Before you ask a ‘Game Farm’ is simply an old farm that has been converted into a private game reserve, and Langberg is a fine example – superb accommodation, homely restaurant and a huge area of land teaming with game to explore on foot. A good place to stay if visiting Kimberly, which is about 15km away. Just the other side of Kimberly is this little visited national park on the banks of the Vaal river. The park’s main attraction are the endangered black rhino, although you will be lucky to see them. Oddly the park is in the process of being moved (local residents want to farm the area) so best phone and check what is going on before setting off. About 15km south of Kimberley on the N12 – on the right hand side. www.langberg.co.za/langberg_ intro.html Around R150 per person

Vaalbos National Park

3.5 hours from Maseru. 20 km west of Barkly West and 52 km from Kimberly on the R31 www.sanparks.org/parks/vaal bos

R50ish per person

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Heading south
Wepener

(Note – at the Free State / Eastern Cape border there is a police checkpoint (looking for foot and mouth, dagga, AK47s) make sure you have your driving licence with you)
75 minutes from Maseru – Lord The town has little going for it, but Wepener is follow the R26 south Fraser – home to the Lord Fraser Guest House which from makes a nice destination from which to escape R200 Maseru on a Saturday. A good place to stay if www.lordfraser.co.za single visiting the Caladon or Tussen-die-Riviere B&B nature reserves The Spa About 3 hours from Maseru On the Free State / Eastern Cape border is this is cheap not-unpleasant-but-hardly-Johannesburg town – R240 Follow the R26 south past that has one main draw – its hot springs. Now Hobhouse and Wepener. Turn per 2 bed don’t get too excited – the Spa Resort is now chalet right at Zastron staying on to pretty dilapidated (it is still government run) but the R26 to Rouxville, then left is certainly an interesting experience. Aliwal on to the N8 to Aliwal North. North does make a good stop if you are leaving Maseru on a Friday and heading towards Port Elizabeth or Hogsback for the weekend. A fascinating area with some typically beautiful mountain scenery and ripe for exploration. The Senqu area is the meeting point of Sotho and Xhosa traditions, and on the extreme edge of the Drakensberg mountains. This area covers Lady Grey, Rhodes and a few other places. www.senqutourism.co.za Twee little town in the southern Maluti mountains 3.5 hours from Maseru – head to Aliwal North and take the near south western Lesotho. Kinda like a less R58 – or head to Zaston then developed Clarens, with a few arty shops and take the R726 and R392 to coffee places, and surrounded by sandstone Lady Grey. mountains. Could make a nice overnight stop.

Aliwal North

Senqu District:

o Lady Grey

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o Sterkspruit

Just up the road from Lady Grey is the exTranskei homeland enclave of Sterkspruit – this is a fascinating place to visit – a densely populated rural mountainscape that appears to have been completely forgotten about – if you have a 4x4 and a sense of adventure you could explore the area heading towards the Tele-Bridge border post before heading back to Maseru. The nearest town to South Africa’s only ski resort, Tiffendell (Afriski is better!). Rhodes is a winter retreat and often snow covered in winter. It is a little bit out of the way so its unlikely you would stay here en route to somewhere else – also the lack of a paved road deters visitors. If you want to try somewhere new – why not Rhodes? Based in the Amatola mountains in the Eastern Cape Hogsback has a collection of guesthouses, lodges and walking trails – its quite a long drive but if you want a change from the Drakensberg Hogsback will make a nice long weekend. A top notch National Park - probably the 3rd best after Kruger and Hluhluwe Umfolozi. Addo boasts ‘the densest population of elephants in the world’ – not sure if this is referring to their numbers or their intelligence! Worth a visit if you are heading to Port Elizabeth or don’t fancy Kruger again. Lots of elephants and the rest of the big five (although the lions are few in number). One great activity is to go for a horseback safari.

For the Sterkspruit Homeland – take the road going to the hospital and keep going – take a 4x4 and a GPS.
www.sterkspruittourism.co.za

o Rhodes

www.rhodesvillage.co.za www.snow.co.za

Hogsback

6-7 hours from Maseru. Head to Aliwal north, then down the N6 to Cathcart, take the (unpaved) R345 to Hogsback 7-8 hours from Maseru, head down the N6
www.sanparks.org/parks/addo

Addo Elephant Park

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2.

City breaks

Durban A real gem of a city which has more to offer than you might think. The great thing is that Durban never gets cold (although it can rain and get windy) making it the perfect escape during Lesotho’s long harsh winter. As with many South African cities the usual racial divides are evident, although the city centre is not a no go zone. Your guide book will provide a better overview than we have space for here but a few things to note: A good curry – oddly it is quite difficult to find a good Indian restaurant that is open in the evening – 2 ‘hotelesque’ choices are the Jewel of India in the Holiday Inn on the seafront and Jaipur Palace in the Riverside Hotel just north of the Umgeni river. The Britannica Hotel (Umgeni Road) offers good food and is exclusively frequented by diners of south Asian decent, always a good sign. For fantastic Indian street food in the evenings try going down to the Blue Lagoon (just north of the Golden Mile) – this is where Durban’s Indian community come on a Saturday night to cruise in their beemers and go for walks with the family – loads of food stalls selling perhaps the best food in Durban. A night out – Florida Road is the main strip the white middle classes head towards, Morningside also has a few restaurants (but no nightspots). Point Road behind the seafront is the traditional (now black) nightclub area. Unfortunately as with the rest of South Africa it is difficult to cross the race divide when you heading out for the evening and few would recommend heading to Point Road with anything other than an African complexion. A swim – The Golden Mile is worth visiting – though for more sophisticated (and sadly white) beaches head north to the more exclusive areas of Umhlanga Rocks and Balito that are geared toward the more moneyed visitor. South of Durban is still nice but there are fewer swimming beaches and is aimed more at the domestic end of the tourist market. Ushaka Marine World has an excellent aquarium. Suggested places to stay: o Dolphin Point – a professionally run guest house south of Durban www.wheretostay.co.za/dolphinpoint/ o Holiday Inn Garden Court, South Beach – often runs weekend specials for R300ish per room (book in advance) – right on the Golden Mile Trips from Maseru – the expat guide to enjoying your weekends 19 of 24

o Cadu Guest House – R150 for single B&B in this pleasing guesthouse is perhaps the best value in Durban – its about 5km north of the centre. www.wheretostay.co.za/cadu Getting there 5 to 6 hours (or even 7 if avoiding toll roads) from Maseru. Leaving Friday lunchtime you will get there for dinner. Go past Clarens and through Golden Gate – to avoid the tolls turn right past the Sterkfontein Dam and Little Switzerland – a more scenic but slower journey. If going to Durban it is best to not try and avoid the second toll as it will add ages to your journey. If driving back from Durban to Maseru at night passing through Golden Gate is still the fastest route rather than going through Bethlehem. But if you don’t like night driving the Bethlehem route may suit you better Port Elizabeth A surprisingly nice seaside city – with good beaches in addition to the usual shopping malls. Durban is a better option though, especially considering its considerably nearer Maseru. Getting there – a long drive, 7 hours or more in total, PE is best combined with an overnight stop somewhere en route. Kimberley Not quite up there with Durban, Jozi or even sad to say Bloemfontein. Kimberly is worth visiting at some point if you are in Maseru for a year or two – the city itself has the Big Hole and an interesting mockup of a 19th century street (about R20 entrance fee). Other than that the city has little to offer except the usual shopping malls and traffic. However it is worth combining with a stay at the excellent Langberg Game Farm (see above). Getting there An easy 3 hour drive from Maseru – just head west. Johannesburg Whoa! Now this is a city. Your guidebook will give a comprehensive overview – but here are a few hints and tips, and a few places that the tourist brochures may overlook. Firstly – Jo’burg is safe - don’t worry. Second – don’t just stay in the bland comforts of the Rosebank - Sandton strip, especially after your first visit. Third – take a good map – Road signs are not Jozi’s strong point and you can easily get swept along by the traffic and end up miles from where you planned – getting lost is a rite of passage! Off-the-beaten-track places your guidebook may have overlooked: 44 Stanley – nice collection of restaurants and artsy shops - the centre of an interesting urban regeneration project
www.44stanley.co.za/

Greenside – A less touristy restaurant strip than Melville

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Carlton Tower – A good excuse to head into the Central Business District – great views from the 50th floor Market Theatre – Best theatre in the country – always has a good play showing. See www.markettheatre.co.za - go for a Sunday matinee performance before driving back to Maseru. Gramadoela's Restaurant – next door to the Market Theatre, a better alternative to Moyo. Good value compared to northern suburb prices. www.gramadoelas.co.za Johannesburg Art Gallery – An oasis of calm in a sea of urban deprivation, and its free Gold Reef City – Next to the (must see) Apartheid Museum – good clean theme-park fun www.goldreefcity.co.za Constitution Hill – In a similar vein to the Apartheid Museum the South African Constitutional Court set around the infamous Fort prison is a fascinating place - part museum and part art gallery. Free / cheap Westcliff Hotel – Sip a cocktail in the Polo Lounge whilst overlooking the city’s impressive skyline – a great way to start an evening out – book a table even for a drink – it is very exclusive +27 (011) 481-6029 www.westcliff.co.za China town – in Cyrildene (Derrick Street) out near the East Rand mall is a good and cheap selection of Chinese shops and restaurants Getting there – opinions differ but this is undoubtedly the best route: Clocolan, Marquard, Senekal, Styrensus, Kroonstad, Jo’burg. This way you avoid the R70 (horrible road), avoid the single lane N1 between Windburg and Kroonstad and get to enjoy the wide 120kph R720 to Steynsrus instead. Places to stay – there is loads of choice but this place in Melville is excellent for the money www.melvillearch.co.za Listings Theatre
http://www.chico.mweb.co.za/mg/art/theatre/listing/theatre-gauteng.htm

Art
www.chico.mweb.co.za/mg/art/fineart/listing/fineart-gauteng.htm

Film
www.moviesite.co.za/where.htm#johannesburg

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3.

Appendix

General accommodation guide. Lesotho
Outside Maseru there are two groups of accommodation: 1) Aimed at government employees You want to avoid staying at these places, although there are not all that bad Eg Blue Mountain Inn, Mokhotlong Hotel and everywhere else not mentioned in 2) Aimed at South African tourists. More expensive and not very African – but considerably more comfortable Malealea Lodge, Semonkong Lodge , Ramabanta, Oxbow Lodge, Sani Top Chalet

2)

South Africa
There is a huge choice of good quality accommodation. Best to aim for owner run guest houses and bed & breakfasts – hotels are usually not worth the extra cost. Owner run places tend to offer exceptional service, whereas chain hotels offer bland efficiency. Owner-run places are often geared towards couples, and this is the most cost effective way to travel, although most places will offer a single rate – usually the double rate minus the cost of one breakfast, but sometimes half the double rate. Hints to getting a good price. Use internet sites to find some nice looking guesthouses – Google the guesthouse name (or use www.sayellow.co.za) to get the phone number (most guesthouses have their own website as well as being on WheretoStay or Portfolio Collection) – ring up your second choice guesthouse and ask for their best rate – then phone your first choice, say “blah blah blah quoted R200 per night” and your first choice may come down in price. Book as far in advance as possible – don’t leave it to Friday afternoon or you may find places filling up.

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Good websites
www.wheretostay.co.za www.portfoliocollection.co.za Note that it costs a guesthouse over R30,000 to get in Portfolio – and Portfolio take commission from the guesthouse if you book through their website – with the guesthouse recouping this by charging you more - so best phone Portfolio places direct to get the best price. www.farmstay.co.za

OK websites
www.aatravel.co.za www.places.co.za www.sleepingout.co.za www.kingdomgateway.co.ls

Other places worth visiting on longer trips
Cape Town & the Winelands – European luxury, only better, try www.newlandsbedandbreakfast.co.za Wild Coast (Eastern Cape) – Lesotho by the sea, only better Maputaland (extreme northern KwaZulu Natal, just south of Mozambique) the only African bit of South Africa Augrabies National Park – Moonscape Swaziland – sooo much nicer than Lesotho Mozambique – proper Africa Zimbabwe – a great country, dirt cheap and friendly people – only money and car import hassles will be a drag Namibia – indescribably beautiful 200 metre high sand dunes, lots of Germans and great wildlife in Etosha Botswana – expensive, but good wildlife Pretoria – not much there, the zoo is good, the Afrikaner monument is, erm, interesting, worth visiting once. Trips from Maseru – the expat guide to enjoying your weekends 23 of 24

Places NOT work visiting that your guidebook may recommend
East London – Bloemfontein by the sea, only duller Pietermaritzburg – dead town George & Mossel Bay – charmless In general if places are big enough to feature on your map but are not featured in your guidebook then there won’t be much there (eg somewhere like Harismith).

South African driving guide – Everyone has their own opinions on speeding and driving at night, best to start cautiously and build up your confidence. Night driving on backwater Free State roads can be unnerving when a huge truck thunders past as you are dodging pot holes and swerving round unlit minibus taxis. Getting caught speeding is a pain – SAPS tend to hold your licence / passport and send you to the nearest police station to pay the fine (R400-R800+ dependent on your speed) and get a receipt before giving back your documents. If caught somewhere you are unlikely to visit again for a while (so not the N8 to Bloemfontein) it may be worth risking saying that you don’t have the money and ask to appear in court – then don’t turn up – you live in Lesotho after all – what can SAPS do? I find it hard to believe that SAPS have the technology to blacklist your passport number. Check your car over before a long trip – you may never do this in Europe but you don’t do 6 hour journeys every weekend either – breaking down in the middle of nowhere isn’t fun. Sharing the driving on long trips is also a good idea – sort out your insurance beforehand. Wire your mp3 player up to the car stereo South African radio tends to be rubbish. Petrol is cheaper nearer the ports fill your tank when you are in Durban. In South Africa don’t be put off by unpaved roads, they are noisy but they can knock hours off your journey, you can go 80-100kph on most of them, but slow down for the corners.

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