Posts tagged with “Caledon’s Poort”

Johnie does Afriski, Lesotho

Wednesday, 15 August, 2012

Johnie does Free State & Lesotho

By JJ Jonker

Like a fair number of other people, we also thought that the present spate of severe weather conditions throughout the country should guarantee decent snow at Afriski.

The weather conditions, of course, spread quite a bit wider than Lesotho. My friend Charl was rained in on his farm in the Aberdeen district. (That’s now Aberdeen in the Karoo, Eastern Cape, not the one in Scotland.)  Similar weather conditions were last seen there in 1968.  (Not in Scotland, in the Karoo).

We got some pointers as to what may happen in terms of pass closing, and I also had a look on Google Earth where this Moteng place was.

Other than the pass that may be closed, we really had no idea of the fun and games – not at the ski resort, but on the way there – which would develop.

In hindsight, whereas we had fun, clearly the people on their way back the day before, could not share our joy. For some insight into the aftermath, watch this video clip of the last 800m of Moteng Pass on the way up the next day.

[Note: The video is shot in 720HD but defaults to a lower resolution when play starts. Select the highest resolution for the best image.]

OK, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.

We headed for Glen Reenen from Pretoria on Sunday 15 July, arriving in good light.

[Source:   Map data ©2012 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google]

Booking was made online via the Sanparks website, and being outside school holidays – on the first day – we managed to find place in one of the family cottages via their site.

Unit 25 turned out to be superb, as this has been kitted out for disabled people. We did not really need the ramps which linked all unlevel surfaces, but as far as we could see, this was the only unit with a double carport. This was great for unpacking the car and would be ideal for someone towing a trailer.

While reading through the web page I also saw reference to the Highlands Mountain Retreat –  which I had never heard of before, so after settling in we took a drive up to this log cabin camp.

What an incredible hideaway! The units are dug into the hillside


You cannot see another unit from inside any other. And the view goes on forever. Definitely a tick on the future “to do” list.

The two game viewing loops provided a nice road and good views – just none of game. As per usual.

We took some wood along from home just in case there was none for sale – there was, at R27.50 a bundle, but the shop closed at 6pm – so at least we had some backup. Once back at Glen Reenen, the fireplace really made it a welcome place.

The next morning we started – rather too leisurely for my liking – towards Afriski via Caledonspoort.

[Source:   Map data ©2014 AfriGIS (Pty) Ltd, Google]

But we need not have bothered about an earlier departure, as we – together with around 30 other cars – were pulled up short at the second hairpin of the pass due to it being closed and de-icing being in process.

An ETD of around 1 hour was rumoured when we parked, but turned out to be closer to 2 hours before the salt was scattered and the grader eventually arrived from the top of the pass, 3 km away.

After an initial group of “down” cars, we went up, meeting another similarly sized convoy, waiting to start their downward journey. This was around 1pm, but these motorists were making sure they did not spend aNOTHer night on that mountain.

We were told by the driver of a local recovery truck queuing just ahead of us during the wait …