We stayed at an old sheep shearing station in Lesotho, where they welcomed us with a deep bath full of hot water and a hot coal stove burning in the kitchen. The main lodge was the residence of successive traders who ran the Molumong Trading Station, the first of whom was apparently a Scotsman, John White-Smith, in 1926. He got permission from Chief Rafolatsane (after whom Sane Pass was named). Look at the thickness of the walls of the old stone house (can be seen in the open window).
We ate well by candle-light and slept warmly. The next morning I braved the outdoor chill. Overcast with a Drakensberg wind blowing. Sheep shit everywhere, from the front door step to as far as the eye could see, the grass munched down to within a millimetre of the dry brown soil. No fences, the sheep had to have access to everything growing.
I wandered over to the shed below the homestead where a Bata shoe sign announced:
“Give Your Feet A Treat Man!”
Soft Strong Smart
An old man sat on a chair behind the counter, his small stock on the shelves behind him. I greeted him, taking care not to slip into isiZulu here in Sotho country. “Dumela” I said. “Good morning, lovely day!” he answered in Oxford English. He was the last trader at Molumong before it closed down, Ndate Gilbert Tsekoa, who was retired and instead of trading wool and arranging the shearing, was now running a little shop in the shed, where locals and lodge guests could buy sweets, soap and other basic necessities.
WHAT an interesting man. He told me a bit about his life and the days of the wool trade. I wish I had recorded him speaking! Here he is with good friend Bruce Soutar. Ndate (Mr) Tsekoa is the younger-looking one. Bruce and Heather kindly arranged for Ndate Gilbert to have his cataracts removed in Durban, which made his last years better and clearer. He passed away in 2009.
Magnificently isolated on the gravel road between Sani Pass and Katse Dam, surrounded by the Maluti Mountains, the lodge offers self-catering rooms and rondawels, serenely electricity-free and cellphone-free: Truly ‘Off the Grid’! Three-day pony treks to southern Africa’s highest peak, Thabana Ntlenyana (3482 m) can be arranged with a local moSotho guide.
The house can accommodate about twenty guests. They also offer camping.