During the early days of December 2009, Toro Adventuresdid a very exclusive and private Hiking Safari in Southern Africa. The mission was very clear, find and summit the four highest peaks in South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho and Botswana. The peaks were named, Injasuthi, Emlembe, Thabanya Ntlenyana and lastly but not least Otse Hill.
We had a limited time span in which to complete the journey and also to allow time for sight seeing as well as resting time.
The trip lasted 11 days in total. Here is the story that made the trip a highlight.
After the collection from the airport, Morgan and I left for the B&B situated in Parys. We stayed overnight in a very cozy and comfortable B&B. During the afternoon we did some scenery spotting and also did the last of the packing of all our stuff and running over the final plans as discussed earlier. After a very scrumptious home cooked meal we made a early night and retired to bed.
Breakfast was once again of very high standards and we said good bye to our hosts which will only see us again in 10 days time.
We Left for the Botswana border and made very progress driving the 4×4 Hilux along potholed roads and also some major highways which made for interesting but relaxed driving. We arrived at the Skilpadshek border post at around 11h30. What seemed like a quick border crossing turned out to be a 75 minute suntan session with a group in front of us busy clearing customs, but it rather seemed like they were running a scatter link operation with constant shouting and waving, followed by youngsters runner all over the show to fetch documents and money it seemed.
After the group left the border we cleared customs in approx 15 minutes, road permit and road tax paid. This amounted to approx 110 Pula at the time.
From here we had about 50 km’s north to travel and then find a suitable road leading into Otse hill which would be our first climb of the trip. Both Morgan and I was pleasantly surprised by the conditions of Botswana, the roads and everything was very neat and clean which added to our excitement. We managed to find a route leading into the bush at Otse hill where we left the 4×4 parked at the bottom. After changing into our hiking shoes and getting our day packs ready we left to climb what seem like a small and unchallenged hill. We were in for a surprise. Thorn trees, Shrubs, cattle tracks and small cliffs made it hard work getting to the top of Otse hill which is only about 1400 m above altitude. We spent nearly 2 and a half hours climbing this hill. The temperature outside did not make it easy as we were constantly reading on the outside thermometer in the 4×4 35 degrees Celsius. We marked the route as we climbed to the top. The view was really something to see form up here and is really worth the effort. The famous Mountain Baboon was evident by it’s call and even found some of its marks left from eating fruits ect up there. We managed to lose some of the markers which made the descent challenging but nonetheless fun.
Taken from the side of the road
From here we left Otse Hill behind having successfully summited one of the least known peaks and also did it in a afternoon break. Gaberone Holiday inn was our next stop and we were relieved to arrive and enjoy the luxury and comforts of the Hotel.
Dinner was served in a restaurant and we had a buffet dinner which was really impressive. Even by Aussie standards this place made really good food.
The following morning we had breakfast and set off early as we had to reach the Swaziland Border by late afternoon. We sopent the whole day on the road, eating up the Kilometers and made it to Barberton were we were booked for the night. Dinner was local KFC variety and made for some good laughs and fun as we shared a local KFC meal.
The following morning we left early, reached the Josefsdal/Bulembu Border post just after 09h00 where we proceeded to our Lodge to check in and prepare for the second Hike. Emlembe was waiting and the weather was overcast, cold, windy and drizzly.
WE did a very unique climb, managed to reach the top in heavy rain and very strong winds at the top, but this did not deter us to stand with one foot in SA and the other in Swaziland. The summit and descent was really moderate and the rain added the unwanted chill factor as the wind and rain lashed our Poncho’s and raincoats.
We reached the lodge after a 6 hour hike which was fun despite being cold, wet and windy. After cleaning up and dressing up warm and dry we set out to the dining room for dinner and we were met with a bottle of good red wine and a fireplace going inside to keep the cold away.
Emlembe was conquered. We were proud and happy. While Morgan was resting away we made a long drive down to the Drakenberg mountains from Emlembe. We spent all day on the road, passing spectacular scenery, jaw dropping forests and dams along the way. It was a long but very rewarding day. We did some curio shopping at the local markets and was followed by a long discussion on the road.
The next 3 days was set aside in order to summit Injasuthi, a very well known and extreme climb. We left the next day early, got to the camp, filled in the rescue and mountain register. Then we set off onto which was regarded as the toughest climb on our trip. Keeping a watchful eye on the weather and also plotting our route with GPS we set a brisk pace to try and make it up to the Trojan wall were we could set up camp for the night and sleep. We made good progress crossing the streams and climbing up to 2000 m when the weather started to turn on us. We continued up further along the route but decided to turn around as we will not make it to the wall in time before the mountain is covered in mist and rain. Safety was paramount and it was decided to rather turn around than risk being lost, injured or even losing a member. We were disappointed not to summit Injasuthi peak, but we will be back to do it again.
Following the failed climb we decided to visit nearby Didima Rock art Centre. We also drove up Mikes Pass and enjoyed the view from there. We learned a lot from the Eland and also the surrounding area’s by visiting local out the way places. Some more curio shopping took place.
From here we decided to take the back road to Sani Pass were we will drive up the Sani Pass and sleep at the Chalets on top and prepare for our hike to Thabanya Ntlenyana.
The drive up the 4×4 pass was made so easy by our trusty 4×4 Hilux. We had a lot of traffic on the pass and despite the upwards traffic having right of way we learned that Africa has its own rules. Make way for the trucks because they can’t make way for you on this pass. There was a few moments that caused Morgan saying to me, “this is insane” as I moved over and drove around the trucks stuck in corners ect.
We decided to head out to the lodge and enjoy the view. This place is magic as you can literally see the clouds roll in like fluff to cover the earth at night.
We geared up the next day and headed off to summit the highest peak in Southern Africa. This on paper proved to be easy, but was a real challenge as it was a long 10 hour hike there and back, and having to contest with valley after valley up and down to the top. The View made it all worthwhile…………But the wind up there is so strong you will be able to blown away and had a pushing contest seeing who could stand the longest against the wind.
Morgan won the “flying against the wind contest. We headed down the mountain and enjoyed that night the warmth and hospitality of the local’s and hosts at Sani Top Chalet.
The following morning we left our backpackers room, took the last famous photographs and were back on the road, this time 210 km to the border will take us half a day. The road was rough but very scenic and we managed to pass the highest tarred road on Southern Africa. It was a adventure, a holiday, a challenge and a mental and physical fitness test all in one, but we enjoyed every moment again.
Welcome to Africa, the dream has realised, lets explore…..
This trip report was submitted by Toro Adventures. Toro Adventures offersexclusive, guided private safaris and tours through Southern Africa. Visit their web site at http://www.toro-adventures.co.za/