Travel is often described as being about the journey rather than the destination. A horse ride through the mountains of Lesotho is definitely about the journey, especially when you go to Lesotho via public transportation.
From Swaziland, it is possible to get to the bottom of the Sani Pass road in one day. After leaving Manzini around 8:30 a.m., my khumbi arrived in Durban around 2:45 p.m. From there I walked a block to the Pietermaritzburg rank. It took about an hour to get to the main PMB station, where I had to change to a different station to get to Underberg. I got the last khumbi of the day, arriving around 6:30 p.m., which was followed by a 15-minute taxi ride to the hostel.
I left my village at 5:45 that morning and made it to my final destination just before 7 p.m. That’s a whopping 13 hours on public transportation to travel just over 700 km.
The next day was better. I had a nice ride up the Sani Pass with a tour company that involved many stops to admire the views.
From the Lesotho border post at the top, I continued on to Mokhotlong, the main town near the pass. I was so close to my final destination, but the taxis wanted to extremely overcharge me, so I waited for a khumbi.
I ended up spending nearly five hours in the bus rank answering questions, watching men on horses trot by, and reading. The first khumbi that arrived for my destination left without passengers. Another came, which we loaded and filled. Then we were told to change to a different khumbi that already had passengers, so all of the original group couldn’t fit. (Oh how I loathe the Hi-Ace and it’s limited space!) Then that khumbi wouldn’t start, so we had to change again.
All throughout this, the locals were trying to get me to change to a different khumbi. There’s a village and a lodge with the same name, but the lodge is not in the village. I needed to go to the village, which was extremely hard for everyone to comprehend.
Eventually I arrived, but it was too dark to admire my surroundings. The next morning was beautiful.
Soon my pony trek started and I was blown away by the dry mountain landscape that so reminded me of home.
It was tricky taking photos from a horse, but I also kept thinking of a Toni Morrison quote about beautiful views: “At some point in life the world’s beauty becomes enough. You don’t need to photograph, paint, or even remember it. It is enough.” And I agree.
My return to Swaziland was no less exciting.
Someone had to get off the khumbi so I could get to town from the village. The khumbi to South Africa died twice and was resurrected twice on the way to the border. Some of the men who didn’t help the driver with repairs wrapped up in their blankets and took a nap on the side of the road. One of the women shined her shoes. I sat down to enjoy the added moments of beautiful scenery.
I finally arrived at the bottom of the pass and headed back toward the coast and Swaziland.
All of the cramped seating, long waits for departure, and other public transportation problems did not stop me from having a wonderful time. Like I said, it is the journey that is most memorable.