The Highest Country in the World – New Country, New Landscape

I say that these parts of Lesotho and South Africa are the same terrain, but it was incredible how different the landscape looked once we crossed over.  In Lesotho every piece of flat land appears cultivated – lots of narrow field strips allow subsistence or low income farming to go ahead – mostly hand ploughed, hand sowed, hand weeded and hand harvested. The farmsteads all intermingled with the crops and the livestock roaming everywhere.  And the soil was so dusty at this bum end of the dry season.

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Spot the border – South Africa on the right, Lesotho on the left

In South Africa, there were hardly any villages, just miles of rolling grassland, some of it fenced in for cattle, some being prepared by machinery for the next season’s crops.  There would be a ranch or a farmstead of immense proportions and loads of outbuildings for their kit and storage.  Hidden away often amongst a grove of trees, you might get a glimpse of the African style houses of the farm labourers and their families, but they were not allowed to be cultivating their own crops or hold a lot of livestock.  Maybe the odd chicken.

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The sparsely populated, big fields of the South African side of the border

Here we were in Free State, the big wide open spaces, one of the breadbaskets of Africa, such a low population density compare to Lesotho.  This was scenery on a gigantic scale.  Each time we would pass through a gap between the mountains and a new valley would open up for miles around us it would take your breath away.  We skirted a low lying area called the Brandwater Basin and every time we reached a ridge a new vista would open up.   We travelled for another hour or so before we dropped down into the eastern extremity of the basin  to find the small town of Clarens nestling in amongst all the hills.

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