Tag Archives: hiking

Phophonyane Falls


The Phophonyane Legend

Swazi legend relates the romantic tale of a beautiful
maiden and her love for a handsome warrior. For her hand he had to present her with the skin of a leopard which he had to hunt for on the rugged Gobolondlo Mountain. Misfortune befell her suitor and he was seized by witches who inhabited the mountainside and transformed into a white flower, condemned for his trespassing to bloom and die among the mountain grasses. When after many days the warrior had still not returned, the lamenting maiden sat on the river’s edge where her inexhaustible tears flowed to form the Phophonyane waterfalls, which still flow today.




Return to the Mountains

IMG_0419My return to the mountains – this time in Swaziland – began in Malalotja Nature Reserve. Hiking with Walker and talking life. What a perfect return.


Hiking stands on 3 legs

Tidbits of wisdom from Tony, our eccentric British hiking companion:

Hiking stands on 3 legs:

  1. Health – you should be working up a sweat.
  2. Nature – if you don’t get slapped in the face with real-life wind and the smell of dirt on your boots, you’re doing it wrong.
  3. Fellowship – bring along good company to pass the time and finish in a pub with a pint.

Our motley crew

Left to Right:
Manu (France)
me (US)
Caleb (Canada)
Jenn (US)
Tony (UK)
Kendell (Canada)
Suzanne (Canada)
[behind the camera: Klaas (Belgium)]

Backpacking South Africa

Hostel-hopping in Europe is excellent: fun, fast, and pretty widely available. But to be a backpacker in South Africa requires a bit of a culture shift. Trains cannot always get you from A to B (though B to C may be an option). The best experiences might require a 4×4 and a few hours of hiking. And the odds of encountering a band of gap year students filling every dorm bed are drastically reduced. What I love most about backpacking South Africa is the camaraderie.

Yesterday I returned from a much-needed trip out of Mokhotlong. Jenn and I sped away through fog and rain toward the rolling Kwa-Zulu Natal state and into the small village of Underberg. Our weekend escape: Sani Lodge Backpackers.

Though I could extol the homey merits of Sani Lodge accommodations and the delectable Dutch apple pie or delicious chocolate cake, the highlight of our visit was surely the company. Travelers from all over the world posted up for a night or two and we found ourselves pulled into a number of conversations ranging from international economics to sports to novel-writing methods while traveling. We shared meals and beers and transportation; swapped tips for the best sights to see and people to meet along the way; exchanged email addresses to trade photos and stories; and parted better friends than when we arrived.

In the end, that’s true of any backpacking experience. And I would agree that South African backpacking is not radically different from European or Asian varieties. But in these other places, how common does one collect hikers in the truck bakkie throughout the day? How often does a family of 7, spanning 3 generations, stop by the local backpacker outfit for a meal and a good time? How often does a man stand up in the dining area and shout that he’s offering rides the next morning for Durban: “All aboard shout now!”

In South Africa? Regularly.

Sani Pass

A mere 60km from my house is the legendary Sani Pass. Visitors are always an excellent excuse to be touristy, and fortunately three friends from Swaziland fit the bill, but truly Sani Pass needs no excuse.