Lesotho Road Tripping Recipe (Photo Diary)
High in the Lesotho mountains we meet South African chef, Justin Bonello and the Cooked in Africa crew. This chance encounter makes us feel, more than ever, that we are on the right track and that perhaps our destiny is written in the stars. We contemplate how, like life, every great road trip is about the journey, not the destination and like every great recipe, there are certain key ingredients that are required…
Lula meets wheels of another age.
Travelling has already given us a lot to chew over and it goes without saying that one of the pleasures of being on the road is bush cooking. We have loved collecting recipes along the way too and sharing the pick of the bunch with you in our bush recipes section. However, often the best meals are entirely improvised, sometimes using only ingredients from our store cupboard. This was the case in Lesotho as we were unable to buy fresh food anywhere.
Landy Kiss. My mother broke the Galt family tradition of spending only a fiver on each Christmas present and splashed out on a fabulous recipe book called Cooked in Africa for Lachlan and me. It was created by a South African chef called Justin Bonello and contains not just his mouth watering interpretations of local African cuisine, but also vividly documents his travels through Southern Africa with evocative photographs and offbeat anecdotes. When your entire life has to fit into a Landrover, size matters and it only goes to prove how outstanding this hefty hard back is that it joins us on our journey.
With chef & life enthusiast, Justin Bonello. On our way to the Sani Pass, an hour or so after leaving the panorama of the Katse Dam, we saw a fleet of Landrovers parked up ahead. Having barely come across another vehicle since arriving in Lesotho, we stopped and got out to have a chat. They were filming a programme on where food comes from in Africa and it wasn't long before I clocked the Cooked in Africa logos on all of their car doors! By the time we were introduced to Justin Bonello himself, I had dissolved into a starstruck wreck, not unlike Mel from Flight of the Conchords. Filming halted while Bow Wow licked the whole crew and Justin (even hunkier in the flesh) signed our well thumbed book.
Cooked in Africa crew. This wonderful coincidence, far off the beaten track and high in the Lesotho mountains, made us feel, more than ever, that we were on the right track and that perhaps our destiny was written in the stars.
As a parting gift the Cooked in Africa gang gave us some much craved vitamin C in the form of juicy Woolworths oranges (remember we had been unable to buy fresh food for days) and we hoped to meet them again later at the Sani Pass Pub which at 2874m is the highest boozer in Africa.
Dash of blanket colour on the challenging landscape.
Haystack on hooves.
They say that it's tough at the top but this certainly was not the case for the Vagabond Adventurers at the Sani Top Chalet. With a howling 40 knot gale outside we gladly gave camping a miss and opted for the cosy comfort of our own private rondavel. That evening, in the lofty pub, we nursed hot mugs of Gluwein around a well stoked fire and chatted with the other guests.
One lodger, Adam, was the proud owner of a historic and much admired Series 1 Defender complete with all of its original leather and wooden fittings and could even be started using a crank.
Cosy comfort of our own private rondavel.
Sani Top luxury!
Rodger behind the bar at the highest pub in Africa.
Cool kids never had the time.
Vivienne Westwood? Alexander McQueen? No these blankets are the traditional dress of Lesotho and depending on their pattern and quality, tells of their wearer's status in the community .
Bow Wow felt right at home.
During the day we explored the adjacent village and Bow Wow played with some real African dogs. He spent hours (unsuccessfully) hunting speedy ice rats but after the equine incident at the Sehlabathebe National Park, gave the mountain mules a respectful wide berth.
Boy playing string instrument improvised from scrap.
Puffing chimneys at the Sani Top.
Friendly faces of Lesotho.
Lesotho border control.
Lula gets nervous before the Sani Pass. We left the Sani Top Chalet feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the foreboding Sani Pass which climbs over the Drakensberg escarpment and would steer us back onto South African soil. Once a gruelling bridle path, only attempted at one's own risk and usually to prove the worth of a 4x4 vehicle, it is now much improved with a widened track and the worst of the hairpin bends having been ironed out. We descended through the clouds, past Ground Woodpecker burrows and compared to the twisting gradients that we had previously encountered in Lesotho, this pass was decidedly tame.
Descending the Sani Pass. Our time in Lesotho had only affirmed our craving for the lost innocence of a less consumer driven society and a simpler way of life. This slice of humble pie truly was nourishment for our souls, providing all of the ingredients essential for a classic road trip experience and leaving an impression hard to forget.