Khotso, Pula, Nala - Ramona Heiner Photography

Go to content

Main menu:

Khotso, Pula, Nala

Galleries > Storytelling

Khotso - Pula - Nala

"Khotso - Pula - Nala"
(Peace - Rain - Prosperity), I could read on the roof top inside a house which I visited at Sani Pass in Lesotho. We started our day trip very early in the morning, leaving *Durban, South Africa, when it was still dark outside.

*Durban (Zulu: eThekwini, from itheku meaning 'bay / lagoon') is the largest city in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal.

The sun was just making her first glimpse and we've forgotten our breakfast packages to take on the trip. After a short driving, we stopped at a welcome service station on the road. Our tour guide paid for our breakfast. We 've had a limited budget of 70,-  ZAR**. With time moving fast, we continued eating our breakfast in the minibus whilst making our way to ***Underberg in South Africa, where we arrived three hours later.

**The Rand (sign: R; code: ZAR) is the currency of South Africa. The code is ZAR, from Dutch Zuid-Afrikaanse Rand. (South African rand). The rand is the currency of the Common Monetary Area between South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho.

***Underberg is an administrative town in a dairy and cattle farming community in the Mzimkulu River valley of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It is situated at the foot of the 1,904 m Hlogoma Peak (place of echoes) in the foothills of the southern Drakensberg, KwaZulu-Natal.

We stopped at the tourist office in Underberg and needed to register our passports and details there. Then we changed our vehicle. Our driver and new tour guide has taken us with a toyota land rover (with four wheel drive) to Sani Pass in Lesotho.

Source of information about Durban, Underberg and ZAR: http//

For a better view, please click on each image for enlargement.

From several stops on the way we could enjoy the surrounded mountains, rising in shades of green to peaks and plateaus. At South Africa Border Control we registered again and received a stamp in our passports, before we were allowed to continue our journey.

The gravel road lead into a long trail up and around and up again and it seemed to be no ending to reach the top of the mountains. I could really feel the loose, bumpy rocks and ruts under the wheels, whilst we were getting closer to the plateau of the Drakensberg Mountains. Our driver was joking "You all get the new African Massage!"


* Lesotho, officially the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a landlocked country completely surrounded by South Africa. The name Lesotho translates roughly into the land of the people who speak Sotho.
* The Sani Pass is the access route through the Drakensberg Mountain Range and is accessible only by four-wheel drive vehicle.

That's a road, I have never experienced before! If you ever have the chance to experience this adventure, and you don't get sick easily and/or you aren't afraid of heights, have a look downwards on your way up and down, if you feel like.
Believe me, only an experienced driver is able to drive that rough trail (with very sharp bends the higher the ascend).

Finally we had reached the top. We stopped in the middle of the gate ahead and with the driver's handshake I was welcomed to Lesotho. He said pointing to the back of the four wheel drive, standing still with the car in the middle of the gate, "...the others of our group are still in South Africa". After registering again with the Lesotho Border and passport control, we received another stamp in our passports.

For a better view, please click on each image for enlargement.

We visited a native female inhabitant, a lady called "Mary Me" in her round shaped " rondavel " (hut).The hut was built with stones and a mortar of sand and soil mixed with cow dung.

*A rondavel (from the Afrikaans word rondawel) is a westernised version of the African-style hut.In Lesotho the hut is also known as a "mokhoro".

Mary Me - was introduced to us by our driver and tourguide. Greeting her with no eye contact is a matter of respect in her culture, different as to most Western / European cultures. So you look down at the bottom or somewhere else, but never in someone's eyes and you say "Khotso" (which means "Peace") or you say "Lumela" (pronounced ‘du-may-la’),
meaning "Good day / Hello". The language spoken in Lesotho is Sesotho, short "Sotho".

Our guide took my hand and has taught us the traditional  handshake of Southern Africa (representing in Lesotho's culture
"Khotso, Pula, Nala - Peace, Rain and Prosperity").

Mary Me was sitting with us in her hut, wearing one of the Tribal  Basotho blankets, whilst our guide gave us insight into Mary Me's life and the culture of the country. The people of Lesotho are called Basotho (plural) and Mosotho (singular). As to Mary Me's name - it is more polite to call an older female person 'me (pronounced: mae)' (means: mother). An an older male person is called "ntate" (father). This is a way in which respect is shown as well. Furthermore it is important to these words "me/ntate", that they do not necessarily indicate a family relation.
Water and diamonds are Lesotho's significant natural resources. Lesotho also benefits from its textile export worldwide. We were told, some of the economy resources are: diamonds, water, angora, merino (textiles) and marijuana.


Our small group was sitting on a stone bench that has been built against the wall to the left of the door. The hut didn't have any windows or interior walls. The floor was built with a dung mixture. There is no water or electricity inside the hut and wood is very expensive, so they use dry cow dung to heat up everything. Through the fireplace, which is built in the centre of the floor, the whole room heats up and the warmth of the fireplace spreads also through the whole floor — it's also a great way of under-floor heating. We have eaten each some of Mary-Me's freshly baked bread and considering it has been baked in a tin pot heated up with cow dung on the floor, the bread tasted really good. Then each of us took a sip of her self brewed beer, which tasted like a type of cider.

After more interesting stories and some insight in Lesotho's language, we said “ke a leboha” (thank you) and "Sala hantle" ("good bye" meaning literally "stay well") to Mary-Me and on our way to the "Sani Top Chalet - The Highest Pub in Africa" we took some photos from the village and surroundings.

For a better view, please click on each image for enlargement.

At the balcony of the Sani Top Chalet - The Highest Pub in Africa, we were welcomed by a breathtaking view to the valley, which we have driven up before with our car. All of a sudden the weather changed from cold winds with partly sunny spells to light rain showers with dark clouds.


Lunch time at the highest Pub of Africa has been delicious and soon it was time to check out at Lesotho Border Control (receiving another stamp in our passports) and we made our way back down the same way we had arrived.

And again at the South African Border Control we received our fourth stamp in our passports. In the late afternoon we arrived in Underberg at the tourist office, we then changed cars and travelled with our minibus the same route back. The road seemed to be endless long and we entered into Durban in darkness, arriving safely at our hotel. It has been a really fantastic day and a
truly unforgettable experience!

More Images can be viewed in the Gallery:
Sani Pass - Lesotho (the Kingdom of Lesotho)

Back to content | Back to main menu