By: Thandiwe Kubere

Celebrating ten years of ‘pleasure’ and existence, Earth-Lovers Hiking Club will give an adventure feast to lovers of hiking, with a tour to the scenic Ribaneng falls from the 2nd to the 4th of February.

Ribaneng Falls is a natural wonder that showcases the beauty of Lesotho. It is a majestic waterfall that plunges from a height of 384 feet, creating a breath-taking spectacle of water and mist. It roars as it cascades down the rocks, exploding into a spray of droplets, sparkling in the sun and creating a resounding echo in the valley. The air is fresh and cool, with a hint of salinity from the water. It is a powerful force of nature, carving its way through the landscape.

Earth-Lovers Hiking Club President Lekhooa Ramokhoro, explained that Ribaneng Falls was amongst the key areas to explore in their 2019 calendar. Upon their arrival there, they were mesmerized by its exceptional view, the hearty welcome of the villagers and the beauty of the stream towards the fall. They further decided to go back to Ribaneng falls the following year and found it to be even more attractive. The club therefore, made a decision in 2022, following the Covid outbreak that the place had to be toured yearly, because they had realized international tourists were attracted year after year. Those were mostly from South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland. 

“One of our purposes as a hiking club is to discover attractive trails in order to help Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) in its quest to enhance tourism by finding remarkable areas worthy to tour in Lesotho,” he said.       

Named a cross border hike affair, descriptive as it is, the club has sparked the interest of clubs beyond Lesotho margins. The annual tour, has enticed a hundred hikers from South Africa only, mostly from Kimberly, North West, Johannesburg and other provinces. “We have had a few come from Botswana, but we particularly invited Botswana Desert Bush Walk organizers this time”, he said.

Mixed with a touch of exploring nature’s given splendour by walking through it, will be the presence of a fun company to camp with. The event serves as ‘must-not-miss’ to all the lovers of connecting, making alliances and networking.  Ramokhoro affirmed that Friday night will be for setting up tents together as outlined by the executive committee, and ensuring that all receive a warm welcome. There will also be a bonfire for a get-together, knowing more about each other, briefing about the expectations and engaging in fun conversations. 

Giving it a bit of a twist, unlike a usual travel where people carry backpacks for all their essentials from one place to another, this time all the luggage will be left at the Lodge and hikers will only carry a day pack with fruits, snacks and water, giving the luxury to hike with ease.

“The landscape at Ribaneng is not exactly very challenging but may be tricky for first time hikers. However, we seasoned hikers have found ways of aiding them to get by and enjoy the trek as well. For instance, the previous year we marked the trail and had guides as well as ‘sweepers’ to help those walking behind.” He also assured there will be paramedics on sight to aid in cases of emergency, so the trip will have a health safety guaranteed.

Ramokhoro enlightened that as a way of giving back to the surrounding community, the club has partnered with Ribaneng villagers to ensure safety and a good stay. This means that there will not be hindrances along the way such as fallen trees along the trail. Horses from Ribaneng will also be hired for those who may encounter problems while walking at certain areas of the terrain. The villagers will also get a chance to sell traditional food and benefit economically.   

For those who have never hiked before, hiking has been assured to relive stress and refresh the mind. It comes with health benefits including lowering blood pressure, tackling obesity and helps build strong muscles and bones. Moving uphill or downhill strengthens the lower-body in a way that a regular walk around the block does not. Walking on uneven terrain engages hip, knee, and ankle muscles more than walking on flat surfaces.

 According to the National Institutes of Health, weight-bearing activities, like hiking, challenge one to move against gravity. Doing these activities can increase bone cell production and lower the risk of bone fractures. Ramokhoro describes hiking to be a fun exercising activity which saves one community drama, this is because after a long challenging hike, a person only hopes to get home, take a shower and go straight to bed.

Hiking also contributes in reducing stress, anxiety and depression. According to research, walking in nature can lower the activity of a brain region associated with rumination, which is a repetitive thought focused on negative emotions. Hiking can also boost mood, improve self-esteem, and enhance creativity.

Magnificent views from mountain top are certainly worth exploring.