WORD & PICS BY JACQUES MARAIS
This is a
place you visit because you hanker for wide skies and lungs full of fresh air.
A place so vast your echo has an echo, and where canyons duck and dive amidst
rambunctious hills rising towards the high Maloti peaks. A place where peace of
mind and the freedom of the spirit unite, and where trail runners come to test
their mettle against the grandeur of Mother Nature.
Lodge is the perfect base for either solo runners in search of a wilderness
escape or families on the hunt for a full gamut of runnable route options.
Accommodation options range from backpacker dorms to delightful self-catering
suites, with honest to goodness country hospitality.
WHERE TO RUN
choices… if you’re keen for a flattish jog with the kids in tow, the easiest
option is to head west from Malealea’s main entrance towards the ‘Gates of
Paradise’ Pass. This section of gravel road slopes gently upwards for the first
4km, making for a doable run to where a sign confidently proclaims distances to
Tokyo, Cape Town, Los Angeles, Berlin and various other global centres. This
makes for a good turn-around point, or you can keep going up a steep climb all
the way to the ‘Gates of Paradise’ summit to take in the view before
hot-footing it back down for a run of around 15km.
you be more of an adventurer, head west to a small village (3km) with
stone-walled huts crouching right on the edge of the valley, and if you
route-find along the rim of the gorge, a glorious rock run awaits. Look out for
a path worn into the sandstone to your left, 1km from the village, and follow
this into the gorge itself, then scramble up-river over some huge boulders
(5km) until you eventually reach some cultivated fields along the banks (8km).
From here, an obvious path winds up the hill to your left back to Malealea,
completing a 14km circular run.
also head further up-river to the waterfall (12km), where (maybe in summer!)
you will be tempted to strip off for a natural shower. Route-finding is
necessary along the densely wooded banks, but there is generally an obvious
trail if you keep your eyes open. Then follow the same way back for a total
distance of just on 20km.
Waterfall Route Fast Facts:
GRADING: Moderate, some technical scrambling
TERRAIN: Footpaths, animal tracks, gravel roads
MAP: Check the wall maps at the lodge
RECEPTION: Moderate signal
BEWARE: Summer thunderstorms and floods, snakes
OF YEAR: Winter can be bitter, but beautiful
Maseru, head south on the Main South Road towards Mafeteng for 50km, then turn
left towards Matelile and Malealea. Keep on this road for 24km, where you will
turn a slight left to Gates of Paradise Pass, and to Malealea Lodge just 7km
from here. GPS: S29? 49.704, E27?
35.981 Map: www.malealea.co.ls/map-directions.
Check out www.malealea.co.ls.