Security on the Lesotho border



Although security needs to be taken into account in the Drakensberg, it is sometimes dramatized and exaggerated by Berg uses. The main security concern in the Drakensberg is in the form of hikers and climbers having their personal possessions stolen by Basotho shepherds. These thefts usually occur at night from tents and caves and also seem to occur in the same geographical areas. They occur virtually exclusively on the Lesotho plateau when hikers camp near to the well used routes of shepherds or smugglers. This tends to be petty theft of boots and jackets. There have seldom been cases of a physical attack on hikers. To avoid any problems it is best to camp away from major paths and the tops of frequently used passes when on the escarpment. Do not leave valuables or your boots lying outside the tent or cave, and camp out of sight of human dwellings. The places where climbers should take extra care are the top of the Tugela Falls, particularly on long weekends. Also the area just at the tops of Mweni, Rockeries, Ntonjelana, Organ Pipes, and Giant’s Castle passes.

To improve security climbers and hikers should learn something of the Basotho culture and have an understanding of their way of life. The shepherds are usually boys of between 8 and 18 years of age and they live in small rough huts called motibo. The years that they tend sheep are a rite of passage to manhood in their culture. The country is called Le-Sotho (the place of the Ba-Sotho). The people are called Ba-Sotho (plural). One Basotho is a Mo-Sotho (singular). The language they speak is called Se-Sotho. They will often ask hikers for food or cigarettes. Indeed, it is worth putting your personal feelings about smoking aside and carry a box of cigarettes just to exchange with them for good international relations!

Gavin Raubenheimer

Gavin is the owner & operator of Peak High Mountaineering. He is a certified Mountaineering Instructor (M.I.A.) endorsed by the Mountain Development Trust of SA. He is a NQF National Mountaineering (level 7), Cultural and Nature Guide (level 4). Gavin is a past President of the KwaZulu-Natal Section of the Mountain Club of SA. He has been involved in mountain rescue since 1992 and since 2005 has been the Convener of Mountain Rescue in the province. Want Gavin and his team at Peak High to guide you on a hike? Put yourself in the hands of the certified and experienced experts in mountain hiking, guiding and climbing. See Gavin's Google + profile