Nov 052011

So, there’s no easy way from Victoria Falls to Lesotho. One of our missions for our trip to South Africa was to check-off the two small countries surrounded by South Africa: Lesotho and Swaziland. Since some of our best vacation memories have been driving around the countryside, we decided to get a car and see if we could pull this off. Lots of friends, especially South African friends, said they would never do such a trip. Too dangerous, too boring, etc. Of course, that only encouraged us more.

Up early for another game drive, and this was the winner. Early in the drive, our guide got a call on the radio that there was a fresh kill…and we sped towards it just in time. We got there right after the kill, and were treated to this!

Don’t you DARE steal my food:


Fat and happy – notice the blood around the mouth.

Leftovers…don’t even THINK about touching them!

After the drive it was back to the lodge for a quick breakfast, because our driver was picking us up for the drive back to Livingstone, Zambia for our flight to Johannesburg. The drive to the border was relatively short, immigration was hassle-free (how ARE we getting so lucky in Africa?!) and soon we were driving the hour across Zimbabwe to the Zambia border. Again, no problems, and soon we were at the Livingstone Airport over two hours before our flight which was WAY too much time. Thanks to Priority Pass we had access to the “lounge” which was really only a quiet place to wait. No internet. Nothing worth eating or drinking…but it had toilets and it was quiet.

1-Time (T6) Flight 952
Livingstone, Zambia to Johannesburg, South Africa
Depart 12:50, Arrive 14:35
MD82, Registration ZS-TRD, Manufactured 1982

Now, I have to confess – I hate MD-82s, MD90s, etc. It feels (when you’re near the front) like there’s no power under you, and it just feels like it takes forever to leave the ground. That said, this flight really freaked me out. Before we even left the ground, the flight attendant bolted from her seat to the 1-Right door. I’ve never seen a flight attendant spring out of their seat on the takeoff roll, so something was up…and she was doing something to the door. I was convinced it was still open, and we were in for an emergency landing.

A minute or so later she sat down, looking relieved, and there was no drama. A chat a few minutes later she told us that there were things sitting on the shelf near the door that were about to fly all over the place and make lots of noise, and she had to secure them. Hah, in the US the flight attendants would have let them hit the ground, roll down the aisle, etc instead of panicking the passengers. We paid for a Diet Coke and a sandwich and the light was quite uneventful. For a discount airline, a completely acceptable experience.

We were through immigration quickly, and to our car, and soon trying to find out way out of Johannesburg. Now, I was most concerned finding our way out of the city. We had a navigation system, but the constant construction on Johannesburg’s roads had me concerned. I think we only made 2-3 wrong turns (that of course weren’t on the map) and soon we were headed south to Lesotho. Not bad at all!

I loved the fact the speed limit was 120kph, and we had a car I felt more than comfortable going that fast in. Driving on the left was no problem at all, and I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of it. A couple quick shots of the scenery as we drove past:

Just before sunset we hit the border to Lesotho, and knew we’d be driving the rest of the way in the dark. Immigration was quick and soon we were on the way. Lesotho clearly doesn’t believe in guardrails or reflectors on the side of the road, so it was quite a spooky drive in the dark. Fortunately, we only had just over an hour to go to the hotel. We took it slowly, had no trouble, and were soon at the gate to the national park where the lodge was located.

Now, just on the other side of the gate is where the drama began. We were on a dirt road, and it was a bit washed out and muddy…and we got stuck. The tires spun and spun in the mud, and Matt got out to push…and soon we were free…with a very muddy car. Pics to follow in the morning!

This was Matt’s birthday, and he’d chosen to spend it in Lesotho instead of in Johannesburg where we could have gone out for a nice meal, so this lodge was the best compromise. In the end, it ended up being even better than we expected! We stayed at the Maliba Mountain Lodge, which was actually quite impressive. It was five or so individual lodges/huts with a large central lodge for the meals/socializing/etc. We had a good dinner immediately upon arriving, a bottle of wine, before heading to the room to crash. It was actually amazingly nice, especially considering we were in the middle of nowhere Lesotho.

  2 Responses to “Victoria Falls to Lesotho…the long way!”

  1. Really interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

    How rigorous was the passport check going into Lesotho? Did you need a visa?

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