Maraqopa

After the wedding Gary and I let the newlyweds have a little romance while we took a tour of Sani Pass. High up in the Drakensberg Mountains, Sani Pass is just across the border into the land-locked kingdom of Lesotho. Pronounced ‘Luh-zoo-too,’ this country is known as the ‘Kingdom of the Sky,’ and is home to the highest pub in Africa.

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Misty morning
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Mountains beyond mountains

After buckling ourselves into a 4×4 Land Cruiser, we braved the slow and rainy ride up to the border. The mist was so thick that we could barely make out the velvety green, boulder-strewn hillsides surrounding us. Even with the weather, we managed to see the national flower, king protea, in bloom, and catch glimpses of the occasional baboon, blending in remarkably well with the rocks around them.

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Can you find the baboon?
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Gnarly switchbacks

The roads were some of the worst I’ve ever seen, steep, incredibly rocky, and filled with endless hair pin turns. Although it seemed like our vehicle barely scraped its way up, somehow local taxis continuously flew past us, overloaded with people practically stacked on top of one another. Everyone seemed in good spirits as they headed home for Christmas, dancing and ululating to the thumping bass coming from the souped-up speakers.

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Basotho shepherd
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The highest pub in Africa

As soon as we crossed the border, the road quality improved dramatically. Recently paved by the Chinese in exchange for access to the country’s diamond mines, the abrupt transition to smooth asphalt caused everyone in the car let out a collective sigh of relief. After a short drive we arrived at the highest pub in Africa for lunch. We’d heard that bar’s location was picturesque, but by lunch time we were basically stewing in fog soup, so thick I thought the windows inside were intentionally frosted. Luckily just as I finished my last bite it was like someone flicked a switch, and the fog all at once dramatically settled down into the valley. We ran outside to the edge of the cliff for an unforgettable view, little fingers of mountains around us extending down into the gauzy, swirling mist below.

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Wow!
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Traditional rondavel

Once reunited with the newlyweds, we journeyed south to Scottburg to spend the holidays in Matt’s old stomping grounds. Christmas this year was a change for me, my first in the sunny Southern Hemisphere. I felt a bit like a grinch, as I always do when far away from my family over the holidays, but I still enjoyed spending the day in the pool and at the beach. Now that we’ve completed the wedding phase and the holiday phase, it’s time to start adventuring! St. Lucia and Kruger, here we come.

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Can’t get enough of these weaver nests! The males make them to woo the females, and if the ladies aren’t pleased they purposely tear them down and smash them. Mean, but effective?
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Merry Christmas!

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