Bicycle Touring Lesotho (part 2): Day 1 of the Dirt Road Odyssey

Originally I thought this story had two parts, but as it turns out there is a trilogy within these photos…

Day one was not only an indulgence of breathtaking scenery and a window into a vastly different culture, but it also proved to be a test of our endurance and emotions as we rode some fantastically challenging dirt tracks and were temporary held hostage by two wonderful and remote Basotho villages.

We picked a very thin green line on the map that translated to dirt road on the legend. In hindsight, I am surprised it is considered a road at all. No doubt only versed 4×4 enthusiasts could forge many of the steep, narrow and rough areas that included river crossings, water holes and boulder fields. However, this thin line not only turned out to be some of the best riding I have ever found, it also became a magical portal that led us through beautiful places seemingly untouched by outsiders and priceless experiences that seemed to unfold time and time again.

Here is a photo essay of what happened on our first day out of Thaba Tseka. Check back in a couple of days to see how the dirt road journey continued to evolve and photos from the epic descent of Sani Pass…

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Ceremony Women
Once we turned onto the dirt road and began our passage through the mountains, the first thing we happened upon I cannot even describe. An odd ceremony I would guess, but without a common language, we never deciphered exactly what was happening with this group of women roaming the hills. They did happily let me photo them, and then quickly asked for some sweets.
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Ceremony Women
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Rondoval

A high mountain still retaining some clouds from the storm the night before.
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Horse
The last [obvious] store we saw for some time.
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Surly Troll
Our first turn off of a larger dirt road took us on a massive descent into a large river valley…
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads
… and our first set of tight switchbacks.
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads
Climbing from a steep valley.
Basotho Children
We arrived at a village right before a big rainstorm and were invited into a small home, along with about 12 children and several adults; conversation was interesting with our two words of Sesotho and their handful of English words.
Basotho Children Basotho Children
This gentleman reminded me very much of my friend/brother Leaf with his wit and antics.
Basotho Children Basotho Children Basotho Children Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads
The rain cleared and we continued our journey on some rough and sometimes technical terrain.
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Basotho Children
Several of the village children decided to follow us and I was extremely entertained and sometimes laughing hysterically as Gin shouted concerned phrases such as ‘shouldn’t you kids run home…’ and ‘help’, as they chased her for a couple of kilometers.
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads
The route had plenty of fast and flowing downhills…
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - River Crossing
… and several river crossings.
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Horse
And surprisingly, as we were sitting on the bank of a river filtering water, the area chief came by and offered a horse to carry Gin up a massive climb that was ahead… the royal treatment I guess.
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads
A big climb it was.
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads
The chunky rock road dropped off, but was a beautiful climb.
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads
The gentleman employed by the chief to help push her bike worked up a good sweat.
Mohair Goat
This guy seemed to follow me on the way up… like I was a long lost family member.
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads
A village started to come into sight.
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads
And people started pouring out to help with her bike… and here a couple attempted to ride it. We were crippled with laughter and disbelief at the situation as excitement and yells echoed through the mountains.
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Village Camping
We were then taken to the yard of the village (Ha Pone) chief.
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Village Camping
Quite an audience as we set up our tent; this is actually about half of the original cast.
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Village Camping Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Village Camping Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Village Camping Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Village Camping
The most vivid double rainbow formed in the glade adjacent to the village as the sun was setting… and so the magic continued…
Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Village Camping

For more information on this route, including GPS and logistics, click here. Also, check out our growing list of bikepacking and dirt road touring routes.



Your Stories

bike-touring-africa  lesotho  

Please keep the conversation civil, constructive, and inclusive, or your comment will be removed.

Share This

Thanks in advance for spreading the word!