Discipline: Canyon Trek
Ascent: + 1301 M
Descent: – 1854 M
Start: T1 Semonkong soccer field
CP1: Semonkong Lodge
CP2: Start of canyon path
CP3: Bottom of waterfall
CP4: River bend edge
CP5: Inside bush – river edge
CP6: Start of small canyon
Finish: T2 Clinic
Tourist activity in the area centres on Semonkong Lodge, which boasts an attractive rural location on the leafy banks of the Maletsunyane River within easy walking distance of the main viewpoint over the waterfall. The surrounding area offers some great hiking and pony trekking opportunities, most notably the steep footpath that leads to the base of the gorge below the falls. Semonkong Lodge operates the world’s longest commercial single-drop abseil, a thrilling 204-metre descent alongside Maletsunyane Falls, offering sensational views through the spray over the gorge below. Though not an activity for the faint of heart, no experience is required as advance training is given to all abseilers on a smaller cliff close to the lodge. The single best-known natural feature in Lesotho, Maletsunyane falls is one of Africa’s tallest single-drop waterfalls, plummeting a full 192 metres over a sheer basaltic ledge into a narrow gorge hemmed in by steep green slopes and sandstone cliffs. In addition to throwing up a dramatic misty plume during the height of the rainy season, the plunging water creates a loud reverberation claimed by local legend to be the wailing cry of the souls of those who have drowned there. More sedately, the Maletsunyane River also offers some superb fly-fishing opportunities. The stretch above the falls was stocked with brown trout in the 1950s and specimens weighing 5kg are regularly snagged. Below the waterfall, the stretch of river above its confluence with the Senqu (Orange) also contains brown trout along with trophy-sized rainbow trout and yellow fish.
The remainder of the trek followed the general direction of the Maletsunyane River until we reached the confluence of the Senqu (Orange) river and we then headed upriver until we reached T2.
Leg 2 was spectacular and had some route choices which was great. The first few kilometres were on the side of a steep-sided canyon (after the amazing waterfall) and was technical. A few teams drew some blood from falling on this section. After that, it opened up a little and had route options on either bank or in the river bed.
Besides the minor route choices to CP4, the main route choice was from CP4 to CP5 (maps 1 to 3). We decided to cross from the west side of the river to the east side as we thought this would be: more direct; enable use of tracks between villages; reduce the risk of getting bluffed out at the river level; reduce number of potential river crossings. This seemed to work out for us as we popped out in fifth position (unexpectantly) at the end of this leg. We were with a large group of other teams when we crossed to the east side but they either didn't cross or fell behind.
The log from my Garmin Enduro (AR Mode) can be found here