Saturday, 31 August 2013

Guest Post: Lesotho - Expect the Unexpected!

It is my pleasure to host the first guest post by my husband, Francois Venter, who is a passionate photographer. You can see more of his photographs here. Enjoy!

In 2012 a group of us undertook a trip by road to Lesotho. We were going to stay at the Katse Village. Katze village is approximately 110km from the Caledonspoort border post outside Fouriesburg in the eastern Free State.

We should probably have realised during the trip to Fouriesburg that the trip will not be what we expected. At Frankfort we saw the temperature drop to -7°C. And when we entered Clarens we saw our first real snow. The freshly ploughed fields were covered in snow. Even the golden gate national park mountains showed mountains covered in snow. It was roughly at this time that we did start to worry about the road ahead.

But wait more was to come. Nothing prepared us for the snow and ice that we would be driving on for the next 6 hours. As we drove along it just became worse and worse, testing a number of photographers who tried a 4x4 trip for the first time. There is however one point that nobody could argue with, and that was the beauty of the surroundings. In the short periods of time when you were not trying to keep the car on the road, you could admire the beauty around you.

From deep soft snow that is untouched to grass that peaked through the snow. Photographically you asked yourself a number of time where you should start. There was so many beautiful scenes. Travelling on through the mountains, ice and snow, you eventually reach Katse dam. When you see the dam for the first time, you think: We are there !!! Well you are so wrong. At that stage you are at least 40km away from your overnight village, such is the vastness of Katse dam.

Katse dam is 42km in length and 135m deep in places. It easily measures 500 to 800m wide in most places. Around every corner there is a new view of the dam. It is here where you start to realise that this country is presenting a face that you did not expect. It is barren, it is harsh but its natural resources are well utilised. These resources have be gathered and provide a number of excellent opportunities to its people. 

We later learned how poor the rural people were. However, many of the poor households in rural areas had electricity, stone built toilets and access to water for their farming activities.