Bicycle Touring Lesotho (part 2): Day 1 of the Dirt Road Odyssey

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Originally I thought this story had two parts, but as it turns out there is a trilogy within these photos…

Day one was not only an indulgence of breathtaking scenery and a window into a vastly different culture, but it also proved to be a test of our endurance and emotions as we rode some fantastically challenging dirt tracks and were temporary held hostage by two wonderful and remote Basotho villages.

We picked a very thin green line on the map that translated to dirt road on the legend. In hindsight, I am surprised it is considered a road at all. No doubt only versed 4×4 enthusiasts could forge many of the steep, narrow and rough areas that included river crossings, water holes and boulder fields. However, this thin line not only turned out to be some of the best riding I have ever found, it also became a magical portal that led us through beautiful places seemingly untouched by outsiders and priceless experiences that seemed to unfold time and time again.

Here is a photo essay of what happened on our first day out of Thaba Tseka. Check back in a couple of days to see how the dirt road journey continued to evolve and photos from the epic descent of Sani Pass…

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Ceremony Women

Once we turned onto the dirt road and began our passage through the mountains, the first thing we happened upon I cannot even describe. An odd ceremony I would guess, but without a common language, we never deciphered exactly what was happening with this group of women roaming the hills. They did happily let me photo them, and then quickly asked for some sweets.

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Ceremony Women

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Rondoval
A high mountain still retaining some clouds from the storm the night before.

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Horse

The last [obvious] store we saw for some time.

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Surly Troll

Our first turn off of a larger dirt road took us on a massive descent into a large river valley…

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads

… and our first set of tight switchbacks.

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads

Climbing from a steep valley.

Basotho Children

We arrived at a village right before a big rainstorm and were invited into a small home, along with about 12 children and several adults; conversation was interesting with our two words of Sesotho and their handful of English words.

Basotho Children

Basotho Children

This gentleman reminded me very much of my friend/brother Leaf with his wit and antics.

Basotho Children

Basotho Children

Basotho Children

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads

The rain cleared and we continued our journey on some rough and sometimes technical terrain.

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Basotho Children

Several of the village children decided to follow us and I was extremely entertained and sometimes laughing hysterically as Gin shouted concerned phrases such as ‘shouldn’t you kids run home…’ and ‘help’, as they chased her for a couple of kilometers.

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads

The route had plenty of fast and flowing downhills…

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - River Crossing

… and several river crossings.

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Horse

And surprisingly, as we were sitting on the bank of a river filtering water, the area chief came by and offered a horse to carry Gin up a massive climb that was ahead… the royal treatment I guess.

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads

A big climb it was.

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads

The chunky rock road dropped off, but was a beautiful climb.

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads

The gentleman employed by the chief to help push her bike worked up a good sweat.

Mohair Goat

This guy seemed to follow me on the way up… like I was a long lost family member.

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads

A village started to come into sight.

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Dirt Roads

And people started pouring out to help with her bike… and here a couple attempted to ride it. We were crippled with laughter and disbelief at the situation as excitement and yells echoed through the mountains.

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Village Camping

We were then taken to the yard of the village (Ha Pone) chief.

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Village Camping

Quite an audience as we set up our tent; this is actually about half of the original cast.

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Village Camping

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Village Camping

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Village Camping

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Village Camping

The most vivid double rainbow formed in the glade adjacent to the village as the sun was setting… and so the magic continued…

Bicycle Touring Lesotho - Village Camping

For more information on this route, including GPS and logistics, click here. Also, check out our growing list of bikepacking and dirt road touring routes.

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  • Jorja Creighton

    Amazing! and hilarious

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it…

  • D$

    Glad this became a trilogy looking forward to part 3. Great story and pictures.

  • LesothoSky

    Looks like you discovered the real Lesotho Magic! Good work

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Yes sir… we had a great time. Already miss Lesotho!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks, thought I’d stretch it out… too many great things happened to compress it.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    By the way, that kid reminded me of Leaf in a mad way… he was a character.

  • D$

    That Leaf is a character

  • Amy Riescher

    Wow – just thinking about you guys since I hadn’t had an update!!!! Be safe!!! Absolutely stunning pics and glad you are sharing your journey!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks Amy! Cheers

  • http://locojoe.com/bikeblog Van

    Just wanted to say I’m enjoying your travels. Beautiful photos and good, short, descriptive narratives. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.gypsybytrade.wordpress.com/ Nicholas

    Everything about this is amazing, including those roads! Thanks Logan.

  • Yaniv Eliash

    Thanks for sharing your experience,
    makes me want to leave everything and just ride to uncharted places and new cultures

  • anna k

    Wow! South Africa is looking truly awesomely amazing through your eyes. I’ll be asking for route notes when I finally make the jump to Africa.

  • nin

    This is incredible, the interactions with people, the photos, everything.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Jjajjajack

    Logan, you must be on sensory overload, incomparable riding through new cultural encounters, beauty surrounding you as the road takes you higher and the right woman at your side to experience all this with you. You are blessed and we are too by your thoughts and photos. Double rainbows, dude you can’t come back to Carolina without a changed and enriched life now and bonus: you just got to Africa!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks Nicholas! We are in Zim now and the internet is even more elusive, but I hope to get the part 3 posted tomorrow… cheers!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks Van! Cheers.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Do it… I highly recommend it.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    I hope to update routes sometime… i have them all mapped in Tracks4Africa and I’ll try to post those at some point… cheers!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks, glad you are enjoying it!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Definitely an overload… thanks!

  • Yaniv Eliash

    If I had the funds, it would not be an issue :)

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Understood. Time to start saving, or selling all of your worldly possessions!?

  • Cass

    You’re digging up some fantastic looking trails, and capturing it all beautifully. Love those hats especially.

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks! Yeah, the riding was fantastic… wish I could spend a month there exploring other paths and village-to-village tracks. Check out lesothosky.com / met those guys after only being in the country for 10 minutes; they have explored the entire Kingdom it seems.

  • donnie

    That’s what I did – best thing I ever did. That said, it seems you did take your earthly Canon EOS 6D with you – that’s big and heavy for a bike ride!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Yeah, definitely a little large for a bike… but it was nice to have a good rig in Africa…

  • Nate

    Logan, Great to meet you in San Diego at the Salsa bikepacking presentation. This site is absolutely great. Well done. Excellent photos. Here’s to more adventure…!

  • http://www.pedalingnowhere.com/ Logan

    Thanks Nate! You as well!

  • yvonne

    DO you know what is on their skin?

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