Saved by South Africans

MF5A1604As the sun reached the horizon I had to realize that the inevitable sunset had arrived and I was lost. I had been driving all day enjoying spectacular vistas in the mountains of southern Lesotho and my goal for the day was a campground shown on the map at the very edge of the border overlooking South Africa; however the campground was yet to be found. The majority of the roads I had driven the last few hours neither showed on the map or on my GPS. Southern Lesotho is certainly still wild. Now I was at a crossroad, I could head north over a mountain pass which I was fairly certain lead to some sort of civilization or simply camp in the wild and wait for sunrise, something I generally avoid without talking to the locals first and getting a feel for the area. According to a different map there was another campground supposedly around 1 hour from where I was at; this would be my new destination.

Car under starsAfter about 20 minutes the road started to get really bad and my pace slowed to a crawl. Navigating steep mountain roads in the dark after already having driven all day can become quite intense. I finally saw another car and as luck would have it, it looked to be another adventurous soul hopefully with some more knowledge of the area than my own. I flagged the car down and a smiley South African couple with their kids waved hello. As I told them my plan of action they ensured me that the road ahead would be a very hairy 3 hours crossing over the mountain pass and sadly confirmed that the campground I was looking for indeed did not exist. They kindly offered that I could camp by their house, which would ensure a quiet night with no interruptions, an offer I was quick to accept! After a short drive I parked the car under the incredible night sky and promptly fell asleep.

car on dirtThe next morning I could properly introduce myself to my saviors. They were 3 families on vacation together visiting their cozy little lodge nestled on a cliff deep in the mountains. Their main reason for coming here, besides escaping the hustle and bustle of Durban, was to enjoy the spectacular mountain biking in the area. They used to come here and camp in the wild but later on had a chance to buy this little lodge from the village chief and restored it to be livable. They had a lot to offer, not only did I get a delicious and much needed hot cup of coffee but we had a nice long chat about the area, the country’s history and not least the roads I was about to take Amy at Sani Passon. I don’t mind driving on roads that are very difficult to traverse as long as I know that they are indeed passable and are headed in the right direction. Had I gone on the road the night prior I would most likely had given up and turned around. Now I felt confident that my car was up for the task. (Later that day I would learn that this road would prove to be some of the most intense four wheel driving I had ever done; a very fun, hard, exhausting and incredibly rewarding 10 hour drive.)

Its one of my absolute favorite parts of travelling; you will meet the kindest and most interesting people often when you least expect it. And in this case turning a somewhat uncomfortable situation into an amazing experience to cherish. Adventure goes on.

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