Monday, March 9, 2015

The road to Katse Dam.

On Friday, February 27th we left the tranquility of Maliba Lodge in Ts'ehlanyane National Park (sob!) and headed out for a view. Lesotho is a mountainous, land-locked country; let me throw some Wikipedia your way: 

"...[Lesotho] is the only independent state in the world that lies entirely above 1,000 metres (3,281 ft) in elevation. Its lowest point is at 1,400 metres (4,593 ft), the highest lowest point of any country."

We were aiming for Maliki Lisiu Pass, elev. 3,090 metres (10,138 feet). This entailed driving along a long valley and occasionally in and out of side valleys, ascending gradually. Kevin drove while I gaped.

In this next shot, that long diagonal across the headwall of the valley is the roadcut. You can make out an electric pylon. I should mention that this is the road to Katse Dam, constructed in the mid to late 90s. The only reason the road we're on is any good is that it was used to haul supplies for the dam's construction, and thus had to be engineered to pretty decent specifications.

No matter the elevation, there were always angora goats, and occasionally a shepherd.

I don't know if this will really register, but in this next shot of the opposite wall of the valley, small waterfalls caused the whole face to gleam and glitter in the sun.

There were occasionally small rocks on the road, but the culverts were pretty good so the occasional waterfalls didn't spill into the road.

Finally we got to the top of the pass and stopped at a lookout for a view of the valley we'd just ascended.

Kevin was hoping this viewpoint would extend in the opposite direction, toward the lake itself, but to find that we had to drive another couple of kilometers. So we did. You can jut make out two little sections of water, below.

But I got distracted by something Kevin found: a little lizard in the rockface at the side of the road.

I fell in love. I don't have any fields guides and the interwebs are not being helpful so for now, we'll just call it Stan and move on.

We turned around and headed back down the valley. 

Note the rondavel on the ridge.

At one point Kevin stopped the car for me - that's the Trusty Rental parked there - because I spotted something clinging to the side of the cliff and HAD TO LOOK AT IT.

See it?

No? Hint: bottom left.

Southern African has some crazy flowers. 

...and some crazy flower lovers. Kevin felt compelled to document me in action.

Ahhhhh..... care to drive down with us? Just for a wee bit. Three minutes. If I can do it without puking, so can you:

(I'd embed that link but blah blah technical difficulties blah blah.)

The day held additional beauties, but I'll leave you here for now.  As I put this together, it's Monday, March...9th, already? and I'm stuck in an airport for the next, oh, eight hours minimum. So I must ration out my pleasures and make them last for the day.

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