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This weekend Afriski, Lesotho

Malotis Take me to the

If you want to feel as if you’re skiing in Europe, but without a maxed credit card, give skiing at Africa’s own winter wonderland a try. Lisa Johnston snow ploughed the slopes at Afriski in Lesotho.

landscape from the Caledonspoort Border Post to

T

winter and there’s little evidence of natural snow, machines

Afriski Mountain Lodge mimics the side-to-side sashay

spray the white stuff, crisp and cold and ready for action.

ferocity, it might not be comfortable for first-timers to dwell

woofers while brightly clad skiers and snowboarders accent-

on the knowledge, ‘What goes up, must come down.’

uate the party atmosphere as they whoosh down varying

he zigzagging mountain pass through Lesotho’s lunar

of a pro skier. As the twists and loops increase in their

In truth, the other-worldly presence of a European-style ski

On weekends, skater-punk music thumps from sub-

degrees of slope. Fashion is a Liquorice Allsorts of brands and

lodge nestled among the Maloti Mountains’ broad back

styles, from T-shirts and jeans in sizes ranging from baby to

means that anyone with a will to learn can quickly get past

full-bellied adult to designer ski-suits and sunglasses.

the wobbly-kneed snow plough and experience the exhilaration of snow sports in the heart of Southern Africa.

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Even when the temperatures heat up towards the end of

Getaway May 2011

Afriski is a popular option for people who are keen to try a skiing holiday without blowing their savings in Europe.


The lodge caters for all needs, from accommodation to gear and meals. OPPOSITE: Members of the Afriski staff show how it’s really done in a quick morning ski before work.

However, you’ll also find plenty of experienced skiers

guns tearing down the slope at whirlwind speeds, you’re good

showing off forward- and back-flips on the ramps.

to go. After the wobbly-leg phase is over and you can exercise

First-timers have to take at least one four-hour lesson and

a modicum of control, skiing is awesome fun and it’s amaz-

pass an assessment on the beginners’ slopes before being

ing how quickly your bravery builds. At this stage, it’s

allowed onto the main slope. It’s not as difficult as it may

important to ignore the whippersnappers in their mini skis

sound. An instructor takes you through the motions of getting

and apparel. Their slick moves and antics on the ramps are

comfortable on the snow in clunky boots designed for minimal

just showing off. Plus, they’ve got a shorter fall than adults.

mobility and clipping in and out of your skis. Then you learn how to stop, get up after a fall and turn. Once you’ve mastered how to stay upright, zigzag from side to side and, most importantly, stay out of the way of the big

By the time you’ve worked midway up the slope and allowed yourself to head downhill full-tilt, it’s only fair to raise your arms to the crisp blue sky and let out a whoop-whoop – ‘Watch out Austria, here I come!’

www.getaway.co.za

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This weekend Afriski, Lesotho

It’s amazing how quickly children take to the slopes. One minute they’re being dragged along by their parents and the next they’re pulling zooty moves on the snow.

Tips for beginners

the more you practise and a few tumbles are an inevitable

– it can get warm during the day, but once you’re wet and

part of the experience.

whizzing down the slopes, you’ll quickly cool down. Wear waterproof gloves; they’re useful when catching the rope lift on the intermediate slope and will keep your hands dry. And remember to pack on the sunscreen as the intensity of UV rays doubles as they reflect off the snow. Don’t wear bulky items or scarves that can get in the way when skiing or catching the lift.

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Don’t give up after one try – the sport becomes more fun

Dress in layers which you can add or remove as you need

Getaway May 2011

Consider visiting outside the winter school break when the slopes are less crowded and there’s more space to make mistakes. Pace yourself – as with any new sport, you’ll be using different muscles, so take breaks and relax. It will lead to more time on the slopes in the long run. Travel planner overleaf


Brightly clad skiers accentuate the party atmosphere as they whoosh down the slopes


This weekend Afriski, Lesotho

Travel planner Getting there

What it costs

Afriski is about 80 km from the Caledonspoort Border Post after the R26 south from Bethlehem. Follow the A1 towards the village of ButhaButhe and take the first tar road to the left (before entering the village). Turn left at the T-Junction. Follow the road and look out for an Afriski sign on your right. The border post opens at 06h00 and closes at 22h00. The road winds through scenic mountain passes and, although it is in good condition, it takes about 1,5 hours to get there from the border. Your last chance to fill up with fuel is in Butha-Buthe.

The slopes are open from 09h00 to 17h00 each weekday and 08h30 to 17h00 on weekends. Prices range from R250 a person for a half-day pass to R2 200 for a season pass. If you arrive in the afternoon, you can get in an hour of skiing for free: 16h00 to 17h00 is happy hour on the slopes. Equipment hire rates vary, but half-day rental starts at R60 for boots, R130 for skis/ snowboards or R195 for both. Ski-school rates start at R300 for adults and R250 for children for a half-day group lesson. Private lessons start at R380 an hour and R100 for each extra person. The Pudi Kids’ Club caters for two age-groups – one to six, and seven to 14 – with a range of activities and fun in the snow. Day care starts at R200 for half a day. Ski school for three- to 14-year-olds starts at R200 for half a day.

Need to know Towards the end of winter, the artificial slope is maintained by snow-making machines that extend the skiing season from 9 June to 4 September each year. to Bethlehem R26

Fouriesburg Caledonspoort Border Post Oxbow Butha-Buthe Mahlasela Pass Afriski Dr

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Accommodation price ratings A person a night, usually B&B, sometimes full board

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Getaway May 2011

FROM TOP: The Swiss-style Estonia Chalets are self-catering and a good option for large groups; Afriski in its entirety, with the main slope and ski-lift in the foreground.

Where to stay Afriski Backpackers Basic accommodation in 13 rooms (sleep two to eight each). There is a communal kitchen as well as communal male and female bathrooms. R110 a person a night. Vail Apartments All 11 en suite rooms (sleep two to four) have coffee/tea facilities. A good choice for couples or friends. From R245 a person. Aspen Apartments Three units (sleep six, eight and 10) suitable for groups of friends or families, with a kitchen equipped with the basics for self-catering. From R311 a person. Estonia Chalets Nine self-catering chalets varying from four-bedroom, threebathroom units to three-bedroom, two-bathroom units. From R311 a person. Tirol Lodge The lodge is close to the under R250

R251 – R499

restaurant and bar and has 12 en suite rooms and coffee/ tea stations. From R311 a person.

Where to eat The Gondola Café serves light meals and drinks. Book a table at Westpub Restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

What to wear The Gone Skiing shop at Afriski has everything you need. Shop times are from 08h30 to 18h00 every day of the week. There’s also a branch in Johannesburg, or you can shop online at www.goneskiing.com.

Contacts Pretoria booking office, cell 087-150-5356, email bookings@pin.co.za Bethlehem booking office, tel 058-303-6831/4/6, email info@ afriski.net, charmaine@afriski. net, www.afriski.net

R500 – R750

R751 – R999

R1000+


Channel 260 on DStv. www.natgeotv.com/africa www.facebook.com/natgeoafrica

All your answers, questioned.

SRI LANKA HAS THE LOWEST DIVORCE RATE IN THE WORLD.

AND THE HIGHEST RATE OF FEMALE SUICIDE.

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Getaway  

Take Me to the Malutis May 2011 Vol 23 no 2

Getaway  

Take Me to the Malutis May 2011 Vol 23 no 2

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