Lesotho is a tiny landlocked country high up in the Drakensberg and Maluti Mountains (altitude 1800m – 3400m). What it lacks in overall size, it makes up for in sheer vastness and ruggedness. Rough dirt roads and natural trails makes it ideal for mountain biking. The Highlands Adventure is for regular mountain bikers wanting challenging riding with a touch of a cultural experience in a compact tour.

DETAILS OF THE TYPICAL OR STANDARD LESOTHO HIGHLANDS ADVENTURE

START/FINISH Afriski to Semonkong
TOUR GRADE 4: CHALLENGING

This ride is for regular mountain bikers, who have a good level of fitness. Routes include frequent moderate to difficult technical sections.

BEST TIME OF THE YEAR SEPTEMBER – APRIL
INCLUDED
6 days of riding
7 nights of accommodation
Access to trails
All meals as per Itinerary (7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 2 Dinners)
Basic trail snacks
Guides
Support vehicle
Hostess & driver
NOT INCLUDED
Compulsory emergency evacuation insurance
Transfers to and from the trail (See Options)
Personal beverages at lodges
Bike hire and maintenance (if required)
Expenses of a personal nature
Any meals from restaurants & while travelling
Accommodation in Durban (if necessary)
ADDITIONAL OPTIONS Donkey Pub Crawl; Take a ride on a donkey from Semonkong Lodge into the village and ride from shebeen to shebeen tasting the local brew at each. This can be done on the last day of the ride provided the group arrives before 15h00.

Abseil Maletsunyane Falls: This is the highest commercial abseil in the world requiring training before attempting the 200m plus descent next to the falls into the Maletsunyane Valley. This can be arranged provided the entire group are happy to extend the tour by a day.

BICYCLE HIRE Detour Trails can facilitate bicycle hire, but as this is a ride for the more serious, we recommend that riders bring their own bikes as they will be more comfortable on them.
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SUMMARY ITINERARY FOR TYPICAL OR STANDARD TOUR

DAY DESCRIPTION DISTANCE RIDE TIME OVERALL TIME MEALS INCL
1 Arrival & Transfer
2 Afriski Trails 20 -25km 700m 700m B
3 Motete Monster 73km 2800m 3500m BL
4 Katse Amble 50km 1300m 1200m BL
5 Thaba Tseka Summit Trail 62km 1250m 1150m BL
6 The Mast Trail 60km 1200m 1750m BLD
7 Trail into the Abyss 68km 2300m 2300m BL
8 Travel to Durban


DETAILED ITINERARY FOR TYPICAL OR STANDARD TOUR

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Day 1: Arrival and transfer to Lesotho

The Detour Trails crew will meet the riders at Afriski, Lesotho for the start of this adventure. From here the Detour Team will escort the riders through the border, for the drive to Afriski Resort high in the Maluti Mountains. The evening is spent in the Afriski restaurant and pub enjoying great local beer and cuisine before settling in for a good night’s sleep in the cozy chalets.

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Day 2: Afriski Trails – A day of acclimatisation to the rare air

Stats: 20-25 km, ascent 700m, descent 700m (These vary and the choice is up to each rider as there are many options

After a leisurely breakfast we’ll hit the trails (at 3000m plus) that surround Afriski and spend the morning getting comfortable on our bikes and sucking oxygen!

While the trails are all man-made, they offer a variety sure to keep all riders happy. There is even the ski lift to drag lazy riders up the slope. This enables each rider to decide how much riding they wish to do. After a morning on these trails, it’s back to the chalets for a light lunch and preparing for the real action ahead… the first day in proper rugged Lesotho mountains!

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Day 3: Motete Monster – Rumble down the Motete River to the Malib Matso and Katse Dam Headwaters

Stats: 73 km, 2800m ascent, 3500m descent

This is a long day at altitude, both in distance and in slow going, so riders need to be prepared. Initially it is pony trails . Initially it is pony trails littered with rocks, but gradually changes into more regularly used trails of the local people and their livestock, making the going a little quicker.

The trail is not accessible by the support vehicle, so riders need to be self-sufficient for the day’s ride. As will become the norm, riders will have to carry all weather gear, tools, basic spares, packed lunch, lots of liquid and a stash of trail snacks for the journey.

Depending on the rider’s fitness, there will be an option to bail after 40kms where the Mothership will be waiting to take riders to the overnight stop, while strong riders have the option of riding the full distance. The destination is on the northern most headwaters of Katse Dam, in an old village for the workers who built the dam.

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Day 4: Katse Amble – Explore the Highlands water system

Stats: 50 km, ascent 1300m, descent 1200m

With a lot more dirt road than trail, this is one of the easier days and we will set off (at a reasonable hour) after breakfast, but don’t be fooled as there are still a few typically steep Lesotho climbs. We’ll ride through more populated areas so interactions with local Basotho are more than likely and always add some colour to the day. The route follows the Katse Dam providing spectacular views of the Lesotho Highlands Water Scheme, heading towards the mighty dam wall (at 185m, the highest in the Southern Hemisphere), which we are privileged to cross to get to the Katse Hotel, our destination.

5

Day 5: Thaba Tseka Summit Trail – Alone on top of the world

Stats: 62 km, ascent 1250m, descent 1150m

After a few kilometres of dirt road, the riders turn off into a small village and onto a rough pony track which meanders its way along the valley of the small Khohlo-Ntso River getting progressively steeper as it heads up towards the river’s source. There’s a steep climb (partly hike-a-bike) up onto the Thaba Tseka Plateau (or Top-of-the-World) where the riders will feel totally alone, unlikely to even meet one shepherd or horseman. There’s an exciting gnarly descent off the plateau into the next valley before a climb over a ridge and meeting the dirt road which leads to Thaba Tseka village and the overnight stop.

On the ride through the town through Thaba Tseka town there will be plenty of contact with the locals and even some shopping opportunities.
There is a dirt road alternative to this trail which we use should the group choose.

6

Day 6: The Mast Trail – Rough riding at new heights

Stats: 60km, ascent 1200m, descent 1750m

A spectacular day on the bike! By now all riders are into the swing of Lesotho riding, so it’s time to up the ante with something special. After a quick transfer up an unnecessary 15km tar road climb, the riders set off on an old disused road that slowly disintegrates into a wonderful rough and rocky trail. The ride traverses some of the most beautiful scenery and landscape that dates back to Gondwana times.

After about 30km of sublime trail, it’s onto a dirt road and the first signs of rural life. After a few flat kilometers the road winds down a fast and furious descent into the Mantsonyane Valley below. The support crew will be waiting at the river, to provide refreshments, load up and head to St James lodge.

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Day 7: Trail into the Abyss – The Senqunyane Valley beckons

Stats: 68 km, ascent 2300m, descent 2300m

Many riders will find this hard to believe, but if they enjoyed the previous day, they’re in for a real treat as this trail is ‘adventure personified’! The trail runs along the ridge between the Mantsonyane and Sengunyane Rivers on a dirt road from the relative civilisation of the Mantsonyane village progressively deteriorating as the trail winds its way into the more remote rural farmlands before a spectacular helter-skelter plummet into the majestic Senqunyane Valley sure to excite any technical rider.

The ascent out of the Valley is a mix of tough riding, scrambling and hike-a-bike, but is well worth the reward of the exhilarating ride into the valley. Once out of the valley, the trail meanders through wheat fields to a rough dirt road leading to Semonkong. Surprises for the day aren’t over as the road serves up a few incredibly steep ‘kicker’ climbs and fun descents.

After arguably one of the most challenging and rewarding days that could be had on a bike the riders finally reach the oasis of Semonkong Lodge.

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Day 8: Travel to DURBAN

After a leisurely breakfast, riders who have not planned to add on the Maletsunyane Abseil leave on their chosen travels.

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PRICE FOR A TYPICAL OR STANDARD LESOTHO HIGHLANDS ADVENTURE

> 12 RIDERS 9-12 RIDERS 6-8 RIDERS < 6 RIDERS
POA as Discounts apply R 17 500 R 19 000 POA as Premiums apply
Per rider Per rider Per rider

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT OF AN ADDITIONAL 30% APPLIES IF A SINGLE ROOM IS REQUIRED

TYPICAL OPTIONS:

TRAVEL – Plans are tailored to suit the group, depending on their SA travel plans
ACCOMMODATION – Detour Trails can arrange accommodation for nights before or after the tour as necessary
DONKEY PUB CRAWL: Take a ride on a donkey from Semonkong Lodge into the village and ride from shebeen to shebeen tasting the local brew at each. This can be done provided the group arrives before 15h00.
ABSEIL MALETSUNYANE FALLS: This is the highest commercial abseil in the world requiring training before attempting the 200m plus descent next to the falls into the Maletsunyane Valley. This can be arranged provided the entire group are happy to extend the tour by a day which isn’t a bad idea as a rest day is always good.

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Tour Reviews

4.00 based on 1 review
July 3, 2017

Something for everyone; big climbs, fast descents, amazing countryside, abseiling and donkeys. A must.

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