South Africa

Back to SA (and a reading link)


After a week and a half in beautiful Lesotho, I've made my glorious return to South Africa.  I'm spending a day in Soweto before heading to Mozambique via Swaziland.  It's an interesting, and incredibly important, part of South Africa.  I've stopped into the Nelson Mandela House, Hector Pieterson Museum, and (unsurprisingly) Ubuntu Kraal Brewery.


Skiing Kosovo, Abandoned Lifts and All (NY Times)
It’s been years since done any snowboarding, but I can certainly appreciate a travel piece on Kosovo.  I loved visiting the Balkans and in my brief time in Kosovo I found a place that was quirky, inviting, and optimistic.  It also helps that “Americans are like Jesuses” to Albanian Kosovars, as stated by an Albanian Kosovar in the article.  (Probably not the phrasing I would have expected, considering that Albanians are Muslims.)  So for all my mountain sport enthusiast friends, make your way to Kosovo this winter.  You’ll love the place, the people, and hopefully you can take advantage of some budget time on the mountain.


In honor of my recent excursion:

Lumela from Lesotho



After about six weeks in South Africa I’ve finally made a break from that country and found my way to Lesotho. 

Some background on Lesotho- if you look on a map Lesotho is the small country entirely surrounded by South Africa.  It is a mountainous, mostly rural independent country.  The lowest point in the country is nearly a mile above sea level, making Lesotho the highest country in the world.  The Basotho people, the occupants of the country, were united under King Moeshoeshoe the Great in the early 19th century as they sought to defend themselves from Zulu and Boer attacks.  In 1868 then-Basotholand became a British protectorate as a means of ensuring protection from the Boers.  This established the current borders between Lesotho and South Africa.  Lesotho gained its independence from Britain in 1965.  By having maintained autonomy from South Africa and its antecedent states, Lesotho avoided the stain of apartheid that affected the country surrounding it.  However, political turmoil was a regular occurrence from the time of independence until the early 2000s.  Contemporary Lesotho is a relatively stable constitutional monarchy

The stretch of South Africa from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth that I visited was great.  There were good experiences and great people everywhere I went.  I would not have spent so long passing through if I did not enjoy it.  The scenery, wildlife, and summer sunshine all lead me to believe that nature was on my side for this part of journey.  I have been lucky to have had good company from both travelers and locals.  I have been surprised at how much I enjoy the South African lexicon.  It reminds me of Australian English in its peculiarity and casualness.  Particularly, “Howzit” is a great greeting and I’d say it’s probably superior to “Whatsup.”

While traveling through South Africa was incredibly convenient on the Baz Bus, getting to Lesotho required slightly more leg work.  It took nearly 24 hours, one mainline bus, two minibus taxis, one border crossing, and two city taxis, but I made it the village of Semonkong from Port Elizabeth.  The area surrounding Semonkong is idyllic.  Green fields and gentle, though deceptively steep, hills are everywhere.  From a high point I can turn around and for 360 degrees the horizon is broken by mountains.  There are no real restrictions on hiking anywhere as long as you’re considerate.  It’s liberating to just pick a direction and go as far as my legs feel like taking me.