Namibia 6 mountains

As someone told us, and  became evident to us on our travels, climbing mountains is not so popular an activity in Namibia. Much of the landscape is flat, notably along the coast and the section of the Kalahari. But not all. There are plenty of low ridges of hills dotted about the central area which sometimes intrigued us, but most of them it would be hard to access without your own vehicle.

1 Okavi Mountain – southeast ridge 1954 metres 19.8.18

This is the first range of mountains we caught sight of of coming from the border with Botswana by the Caprivi Strip. There is quite an extensive range of hills to the north of the road between Grootfontain and Otavi townships which we passed in the taxi. The highest point marked on our map was at 2154m, called Gross Otavi, but we had passed this by the time we reached Otavi. Instead we opted to climb the ridge of hills near to Otavi, which was still a reasonable climb up.

The day before we climbed we discovered that all the land in the area is privately owned, by white and black farmers. We met a German lady at a camp to the north who sent us to the farm of the local (white) doctor, also locally known as the Winery, for they grow grapes there and make wine.  The coupld here owned some of the northern ridge, but they were not happy for us to walk there, as they did not want us to disturb the wildlife, which here are kudus.  They however thought it might be OK to climb the southern ridge.

So we took a taxi to the foot from Otavi the next morning, which dropped us before the gap in the hills in which runs the road. Just as we were setting off, a white lady comes out from the house nearby where they sold eggs.. She is the owner of this land. Fortunately she was happy enough for us to climb the mountain.

It was fairly tough going, as the ground was quite rocky and lose and there was much thorny vegetation to negotiate inbetween, so only rarely was it easy walking. But we persisted over successive summits until we reached a higher one, at least maybe the next one was higher, but we decided to be satisfied with our attempt after about 2 and a half hours. Of nature there was not a lot to inspire apart from some colourful and unusual lichens on the rocks on the south side in sheltered places with different shades of orange.  We looked also to the south to some large farms, the whole area of flat land seemed to hace been portioned off into plots.

2 Gross Spitzkoppe 1726 m 23.9.18

From Spitzkoppe campsite.

This modest area of spectacular and rather beautifully coloured mountains arises out of the plain north of Usakos. We were very happy when we found this place which is a Heritage Area managed by the local Damara people, and receives many tourists who come to camp in the bush at the foot of the peaks, and to view some rock paintings here.  The Damara speak the very strong click language, with seven different clicks.

We were lucky to find that, once we had paid for our camping, we were free to explore the area at our leisure without the necessiyt of a guide. It was some 4 kilometres walk from the gate to the foot of Gross Spitzkoppe which is the highest of the peaks here. At the base we found some people climbing on the rocks there. I should point out that the peaks appear totally unclimable from the base. They are of volcanic origin, but the magmas did not come to the surface of the earth and the rocks hardened beneath, Only later were the surface layers eroded away revealing the giant rounded outcrops of the Spitzkoppe mountains.  The rock climbers pointed out to us the way, which is a route over boulders and rocks  marked by small cairns. We were not entirely sure if we were able to reach the summit itself as we had been given different stories. But in the end with some perseverance we found the trail, leading first to a col, then ascending behind the large boulder face with the aid of some permanent ropes and chains that have been put there.  Near to the summit the way goes through the branches of a large oretete tree (a sacred tree of the Masai which grows up there amazingly). and then up the rock to the summit, where there is a metal box containing a book which summit attainers can sign.   The very summit is actually on a rock some three metres higher than the point attained, but one can pass through a gap in the rock and see to the other side, and gain a view of the sister peak Pontok.

It was certainly a very intruiguing and pleasing peak to climb.

3 Pontok 1629 m 24.9.18

This mountain contains several peaks, the very highest which is in the shape of one of the local bushman tents (called a Pontok) has, we were told, never been climbed. There are three rounded boulder summits to the west of this, of which we were able to scale the middle one,  by way of a trail marked with cairns, clambering over the boulders then ascending by the bushy crack to the left of the peak. It was a very pleasant open summit with a ciarn on top, though we failed to notice the tin there containing the visitors book. What was remarkable on this walk was the beauty of the vegetation here which was still surviving. For the trees which do survivie here seemed remarkably healthy, with some flowering cactus, making beautiful flowers (prior to the rains). There were also some pleasant aromas wafting about here from these trees. There were also many rock hyraxes living on this mountain, though mostly their presence is on the lower slopes.  (Also Oloropile, the Masai perfume tree).

Certainly this was a very wonderful place.  There was certainly much beauty here, even if only a small amount of life.

4 City Hill

From Windhoek town. 26.9.18

This is the very modest viewpoint we chanced upon off the Sinclair Road as we were walking about the city.  The area has been built with steps and walls, which have been covered with paintings and graffiti.  One can gain a sense of the extent of the city from here.

5 White Lady rock outcrops. 560m 28.9.18

From the White Lady Lodge campsite.

These small rocky peaks, arising some 100 metres, are located near to the White Lady Lodge , with another of slightly lesser high beyond. It is certainly worth the climb to gain a viwe over the plain around, and over the Ugab River, which remarkably is covered all along its dry bed with trees and green circles of the Salvador Pissica (toothbrush tree). There are many elephants living here, and their dung and tracks can easily be seen about the foot of these outcrops and along the riverbed. Hyenas can also be heard here in the night.  There is also much evidence of rock hyrax on the hills.

6 Brandenburg Mountain, outlier. 940 m  29.9.18

We wer somewhat dissapointed as we had hoped to climb the highest peak in Namibia, which is in the Brandemburg Mountain range, called Koningstein, some 2800 metres.  But in the end the nearest we got was an outlier of the range. For when we arrived at the base we were told that permission had to be gained from Windhoek before you could climb it.

However this peak proved highly rewarding. We could see it from the White Lady Lodge somewhat in the distance, and  it seemed it would be a good viewpoint for getting a sense of the land beyond stretching to the sea, and also something of the terrain of the Brandenburg Mountains themselves, which harbour  very little vegetation. Though even then we found some beautiful patches of desert plants on the far side.

It took us about 2 and a quarter hours to reach the summit, where we sat for quite a while. We then continued over  descending by the far side down to a stream bed we could see. We thought to walk along this stream to get to the Ugab river, and it was very interesting there with some green reedy grass still, and even in one inaccessible place a pool of water in which a great number of tadpoles were swimming about. However it turned out we could not walk down entirely ion the river bed, as it came through a gorge at one point, so we had to climb back over the rocks to get by.  Then we came down, past an area which my friend was thinking must harbout lions, to the Ugab River. We saw many many elphant tracks here. for there was actually an area of the river here with some waterholes. We also met then quite a number of cars and tourists trucks coming from the lodge, with tourists looking for elephants who were asking us if we had seen any.

It was a very hot afternoon that day, so we were very happy to have the opportunity to rehydrate ourselves with glasses of iced water and soda at the Lodge on our return, feeling indeed we had surely deserved it

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Botswana – 4 Mountains

12-13/9/18

Tsodillo Hills.

All four mountains we climbed in Botswana were located in the Tsodillo Hills, which arise out of the huge tracts of totally flat land of the Okavango Delta and the Kalahari Desert, these hills lying some thirty kilometres from the Okavanga River in the northeastern corner of the country. The highest point is the Male Hill some 1395 metres, and by many is claimed to be the highest peak in Botswana, Though this is not the case, as this claim lies to a hill called Otse some 1460m near to a village of this name not so far from the capital Gaborone.

However we were very content with the Tsodillo Hills, which amazed us as we approached them, we having not seen any sign of mountains for quite some days now, it seeming indeed to be weeks.  The Tsodillo Hills attain some sacred status with the local people, who are of two different tribes. Some are originally from the Koisan bushman tribes and speak a form of ‘click’ language. There are also some villages of the Bantu people, cattle keepers who moved to the area some 200 years ago. Our guide up the mountain was from this clan.

The name Tsodillo means ‘damp place’ in the ikung language. And some time ago, as is evident from the landscape. there had been a lake covering this area surrounding the outcrops. But now all is dry, and even the springs that emanate from the hills have nearly gone.  For alas the area has also been burnt at some time, probably by the cattle keepers so the vegetation is not as lush as it might have been otherwise. All the same there are some largish trees still here between the male and female peaks.

The hills are formed of four distinct mountains, being a family. The male, being the tallest to the east, next to him is the female, a lower but broader peaks which contains the majority of the rock paintings to the found here, and also is the only hill where can be found springs.  There is also the child and the grandchild,  smaller peaks located  beyond, which we  climbed on our second day,

1 Male Hill 1395 m

The climb from the foot bening somme 400 metres. There is a good path leading up to this hill,  winding siightly but well marked. From the summit we had excellent and amazing views over a huge flat plain stretching beyond in all directions, where we could see the different patterns of ridges of different colours of grass and vegetation.

2 Female Hill 1278 metres

This is the hill which gains somewhat more attention, and is perhaps more interesting and colourful than the male, firstly due to some area of strikingly pink coloured cliffs which appear to be painted. There are many rock paintings here about the lower rocks, mostly of animals, and also some figures dancing. These are the main attraction for visitors. Our guide took us up by the Rhino Trail, so named becuase it passes a painting of a rhino on a rock, the trail then passes over a ridge of the hill. To get to the summit ou must make your own way, as there is no path. Sam was the only one who attempted it here, as the day was quite hot and her male companions were suffering from the heat. It made an interesting and slightly challenging climb over boulders with some prickly vegetation (alas as I said, the area had some time before been burnt, so there was a lot of dead material – very sad to see). After arising over successive summit she arrived at the highest point,  there are many summits on the female, but the one I climbed was clearly the highest.

After returning to her companions, we all descended by way of a section of steps to the rear of the Heritage Park Office.

Grandchild. 1073 m

This small peak, the baby of the group actually lies outside the Heritage Area, and is rarely climbed. It is some 12 kilometres to walk to it from the Office. However there is a good feeling of remoteness here, and the hill is clearly the preserve of animals – we saw a number of elephant tracks here and some dung, though we imagined the animals could not spend all their time there just now as they must go to the Okavango River to get water.

It was a short rocky climb up to the summit. But though not so high it was a rewarding spot all the same, partly from the sense of remoteness here – we were sure if we had a telespcope we could have seen elephants about the trees, and the sense of elevation and yet proximity of the land around was intriguing.

4 Child 1142

The interesting thing when climbing these hills, is that when on the top of each, one appears to the on the highest point relative to the others of the family. The grandchild included. Similarly with the child, which is again a rocky mountain, and quite narrow, so that one is quite clear one is on the summit when you reach it. Sam climbed it (leaving her companions suffering from the heat at the base) from the side, up by the rocks and it was not a hard or long way. On the summit she found a small cairn and a section of concrete, indicating others had been there before.

So as I said, it appeared as maybe the highest point when up there – which maybe is a case  that each of the members one must give equal respect to in thier own right, when there is not always necessity for comparison.

 

 

 

Mozambique – 8 mountains

1 From Xai-Xai beach

Mount Diego 98m 7.8.18

This is the tall bare-topped dune which we climbed on our walk north along the beach from Bamboo Lodge, passing on route a good number of resorts, many with artistic murals at the gates which we photographed. Around here we found much interesting vegetation including a purple fruit like a persimmon which may have been edible.

The climb to the top was a steep clamber up the soft sand, here a pale brown colour a mixture of fine white quartz rock and buff coloured shells. It was very nice on the top with a sense of cleanliness and (almost) perfect undamaged nature, with encroaching bushes like the new Zealand rangiora. This may have been a similar height to the neighbouring dune, for they stretched each way along the coast forming the only higher land in a large area. But this hill, as well known by the locals, is the only one with bare sand on the top. We felt quite high up relative to our surroundings, and sure it is small by there was a real sense of being on the top of something.

2 Tofohino Dune 61m From Tofo Beach. 9.8.18

This is something of a smaller dune than what we found at Xai-Xai, but also interesting as there was quite thick bush vegetation on the slopes, which we had to navigate a way through, of very many different species. It was a pleasant walk too along the beach to here from the town, passing a pyramidal monument along the way.

3  Monte Inchope 291m From Inchope  12.8.18

As we were travelling north through Mozambique we had seen no hills at all apart from dunes so far. But then shortly before Inchope we started seeing small hills dotted about the landscape. Monte Inchope is one of these, marked on our ME maps. We found a small path too it, through the villages to the foot. On the rocky summit were a few bushes, though like all the land in the vicinity it had been burnt  not so long before.

4 Montanha Cabeca De Velho 741m

From Chimoio 13.8.18

With Ryan Peck, from USA, working in Mozambique as an English teacher.  This is a small hill, only some 80 metres climb up from the  foot, by way of a well used path.

The name in Portuguese means Head of an old Man. And it is possible to see a visage in the central rock. The hill also has another name in the Shona language, which means ‘surprise’. For maybe it is a surprise to see this hill arising from the flat land roundabout.  It is a very popular pilgrimage place for the people of the town, and the two times we went there  it was always busy. We were told people go up there to pray. The hill consists of three giant rocks, and the summit is a smooth rocky boulder with views out to neighbouring small hills.

5 Monte Zembe 1225m 14.8.18

This hill appears quite prominently on Google maps lying beside Zembe village about 20km south of Chimoio. We were dropped off there in the ‘chappa’ and asking people for the ‘camino’ we were directed to the path. As we were leaving the village we found a man calling and running after us. He was asking if we wanted a traditional ceremony to be performed before we climbed the mountain, as I had read is customary in the Shona area. But we declined, and my friend gave him a cigarette. At the foot of the mountain, which I should add appears very impressive on the approach, particularly from the north side, where the giant rock pinnacle on the highest point appears totally unscaleable. But we found when facing it that it did not possible.

At the foot of the mountain we found some houses, and greeted the people there. A young ‘rasta’ man there kindly showed us the way beyond, leading us up over the rocks to the ridge just beyond a small cave. From there we made our way up the ridge by ourselves.\

We found several spoons up there, and brought one down, and gave it to our friend when we passed their huts on the way back.

6 Chidura Mountain 1594 m 18.8.18

From Nhabawa village in the Chimanimani National Park.

With Paolo a villager from Nhabawa.

This is the prominent rocky peak near to the Chikukwa camp, standing somewhat lower than a larger neighboring peak called Gungatu – the name of which means water cave.

We found a way up ourselves by way of the rocks and gullies to the ridge, branching up from the road. The vegetation had not been burnt for quite a few years so it was fresh and interesting to see. From the rocky summit we had excellent views to the neighboring mountain and down the valley towards Mount Binga. We also looked down on the Muhona waterfall on the opposite side of the valley, the water emerging impressively from a hole in the rock.

I was told later I was possibly the first white person to have climbed that mountain.

7 Mount Binga 2436m 19/20.8.18

This is the highest mountain in Mozambique, lying right on the border with Zimbabwe. It’s name in the Shona language means ‘two headed serpent’. Though it has been slightly corrupted, as the original word is Dinga.

It took us two days to climb this mountain, guided by our from Paulo again. The firest day we walked up the the ‘4th’ camp site, from Nhabawa village, along a good train following the Namadi River, then climbing up onto higher valley terraces. We heard and saw quite a number of baboons in the forest there, and also watched many frogs jumping about the pools lower down.  We also encountered some snakes as we were walking, slithering away as we approached.

The place where we camped was an area of large rocks with some nice caves too. It was a little windy in the evening, but this died down in the night, and we found the next morning the mountain was clear of mist, with cloud below us in the valley.

There is a good path up from the camp, leading up the slope and then behind the ridge we could see to the summit. From the rocky top we looked down on the cloud which lay over the Mozambique side. We saw too a path leading beside the border along the ridge towards Mount Pesa, which is used by the local villagers and looked most intriguing to explore.

We descended the same day back to our camp to eat Ugali (Nsima as it is called here) then down again to Nhabawa village.

8 Mount Pesa 1987  (middle peak). 23.8.18

From Chikukwa camp.

Again with our friend Paolo.

This is an impressive rocky mountain, with a series of peaks forming a ridge on the east side of the Namadi valley before you get to Mount Binga. We were told the easiest way to climb it was to take the path along beside the border on the back side of the mountain. This proved an interesting and inspiring route, though it was quite some way to get near the peak, though when we did we found we were right at the foot of the rocky crests. We had hoped to climb to the highest summit, but this did not prove feasible in the time, as there was a very steep descent down the cliffs in order to reach it, which we decided against attempting.

Time for our trip about 8 hours.

SWAZILAND –

1 Mhlolampi (and Lwandle Hill ) 656m 26.7.18

From Manzini

These are small hills which we were directed to from Manzini, and through quite modest in size the walk around them proved very pleasant and interesting, finding the farmland and local people and quite a lot of rough land and native vegetation. We also found quite a number of flame trees here,  just now in bright flower.

On route, when talking to a local pastor, we found out that the highest point, on which there stands a broken trig point, means ‘place for viewing the enemy’ in the Swazi language.

On the way out from the suburb where we were staying we had a conversation with a man who explained that we people in this area, which is all called Lwandle, were home owners, as opposed to the people in the town who rented their houses. So after walked over some successive hills, gaining some views over to adjacent parts of this small country of Swaziland, and reaching a far hill topped with a communication mast, we decided on the return to visit the first signal hill which we had passed by on coming. Here at the end of the road we found a good number of new stone bandas, each with its own terrace. A man there looking after the place told us that this was the homestead of the chief of the area (who worked in the army). He showed us the way up the to hill which was guarded by another man, whom we found lying there with three dogs. He was quite keen to take us out hunting to catch a rabbit to eat. But we told he we were just interested to climb to the mast and see the view. It seemed he was posted there on account that people had been stealing the underground cables to the signal. Though now he said they had been covered over with concrete, so would be harder to get at.

Anyway he did not seem to mind his job, just sitting there all day on the hillside under the tree in the shade.

2 Fonteyn Hill 1401m 27.7.18

From Fonteyn suburb, Mbabane

We could see this rocky, rock strewn hill from our lodgings in the suburb, called Cathmar, and decided to climb it in late afternoon. First we walked through the silent (muzungu ?) suburbs, towards the foot, meeting no one apart from a man looking after an empty house who pointed us the way up. When we arrived at the foot we found that the area had been sectioned out for new plots, and some people had already built their driveways. But fortunately it was still sufficiently unclaimed (and untamed) that we were able to make our way easily up to the mountain, finding small paths over the rocks and brush, then clambering up to the summit. It was very pleasant on the top, with the long grass and many interesting large natural granite boulders, with a few trees too here and there. It certainly felt we had left the suburbs as the view beyond was to open rockyhillside and shallow valleys. We could also see theadjacent Sibebe mountain from here, at that point not knowing of its fame.

3 Sibebe Mountain (and rocks) 1457 m 28.7.18

This substantial granite bouldery massif is best know for the part known as the Sibebe rocks, which though not totally freestanding is sometimes likened to Ayres Rock in Australia for its sheer size as a single rock. And indeed it makes a spectacular sight from the Pine Valley below, with the sweeping grey striated smooth rocks towering to the ridge.

From where we were staying we walked down the hill to the head of the Pine Valley, from where we were lucky enough to get a hitch-hiking ride with a local man (driving quite fast) as far as the substation. We were still quite some way from the official start of the trail, but decided as it looked feasible to make our way up the slope from there to the highest point. Indeed it was a very pleasing choice of route, for the rocks were not so steep that you could not walk up them, and when we reached higher there was just a pleasant sense of puzzle as to how to negotiate our way to the summit. At the top we found several large boulders, and perhaps hard to say which was actually the highest, but we climbed up onto one of them anyway to admire the view. It was certainly very scenic up there with all the rock around us.

We decided to continue down along the rocky ridge (towards the main ‘tourist’ route to the ‘rocks’ which runs from the north side, then we found our way down between the boulders, gaining the grassy shoulder at the rear of the impressive Ngubhela Cave. We continued on then past the rocks, and descended to the Pine Valley by a small path which we found between the rocks.  IT was certainly a very pleasant and picturesque walk.

4 Mgogodla Ridge (Pine Valley) 1402m 29.7.18

We decided the following day to walk along the rocky ridge which runs on the opposite side of the Pine Valley to the Sibebe rocks. I had read about it in the local tourist paper, where it told of the spectacular view from there over to the Sibebe rocks. And certainly this proved true, so that we  then came to feel that we now knew the area.

We found a good path leading up on the far side of the hill at first over the lush dry grassland, which brought up diagonally finally to reach the rocky crest of the summit ridge when we gained our awaited views over to the Sibebe rocks and massif. It was pleasant too up there, with many giant boulders decorating the way, one of the higher ones we climbed up onto, making a somewhat hairy perch above the cliffs. We then continued along the ridge, descending by successive promontories until we came to the grassy farmland below, making our way back to the road, and standing outside a very grand and well-kept eco-lodge we  found a lift back in a smart car to Fonteyn Road with an English tourist and his local guide.

5 Embleme Mountain. 1872m 31.7.18

From Bulembu town.

This is the highest mountain in Swaziland, lying on the South African border near to a somewhat deserted mining town where they used to manufacture asbestos, which now has a population of 1000 people, and formerly supported ten times that number. There is a well marked route up to the hill on top of which is a prominent communication mast. The way leads up past the Nazarene Primary School, then after passing the houses a track leads towards the border, then over the grass and ‘burnt’ heather to the summit. It is easy going, and took us only an hour and half from the village. The top is somewhat disappointing, as the area has been thoroughly burnt and there is quite a lot of rusted debris about there. But one can still appreciate the views.

On the return we got talking to two young boys who attended the school, who were on their way to visit their grandmother (koko). It turned out they were not at school as there was no food there (because it had all been eaten).

6 Malolotje Mountain, 1507m  1.8.18

This peak we could see well from the old lodgings at Bulembe, on the left side of the deep valley stretching beyond which actually lies in South Africa, as we found did another adjacent peak called (as we learnt from one the boys the day previously Sibobo). But we decided  not to climb the latter in the end (despite it’s enticing appearance) as it would have meant crossing the border and getting four extra stamps in our passports.

Our route to Malolotje led us first along a small nature trail beside the Bulembu lodge, following the one marked bushbuck trail, which brought us up into the forest, from where we headed somewhat steeply by our own way through the trees until we gained the crest of the first hill. The way then followed successive rounded hills, necessitating a degree of descent and re-ascent along the way. We also had to pass through a gap in the high (previously electrified) fence which ran around the Malolotje area, which is designated as a game reserve. Normally people enter at a gate beside the main road. However we were not spotted and taken for poachers.

The vegetation was certainly more lush and heartwarming when we got inside the reserve, and was recovering nicely, with some quite long grass, and different herbs coming through and even some small bush shrubs growing up in places. It was really a very nice walk, we being here right on the very border with South Africa here, looking across the valley at the taller peak of Sibobo which we also rather wanted to climb.

On the summit was a broken fencepost, and from here we gained views down to the dammed Magugu Lake below, and back to Emblembe and  Piggs Peak in the distance, making out (as we surmised) the peak of Gobolgondo beyond which we also hoped to climb.

We also looked over now into South Africa, the Barberton area, renowned for  its very ancient rocks, some of which we saw ourselves on the way up to Malolotje, with distinct red pieces set into the rock,  the like of which I had not seen before. And even if, for no one could not for sure, these were not the oldest rocks in the world, they were certainly very intriguing and interesting too see.

 

 

Lesotho – 9 mountains

Introduction.

Cold or rain. Easy and very pleasant walking – firm rock and short vegetation. Generally bands of rock to negotiate. Basalt .  Well utilised, meeting locals – good to know greetings. ALpine plants, notably vegetable sheep.  Really huge potential given good weather.

Highest point we did not climb.  Spectacular escarpment  before Drakensburgs

1 Mopedi Mountain. From Butha-Buthe 2.7.18

This is the craggy flat-topped hill rising spectacularly to the south of Butta-Butte on the east side of the valley, opposite to another interesting free-standing rock, as there are many of which in the area.

We found out afterwards that this peak has attached some history, being the place where King Moshoeshoe I, the first king of the Basotho people some 200 years before had set up his residence in some nearby caves.

It was not too far to walk there from the guesthouse where we stayed, crossing first a small river, and greeting a number of locals, mostly wrapped up in blankets, some riding in carts pulled by cattle, with ‘dumela’ the only word we faithfully knew so far in the Basotho language.  We found a small path leading up beside the rocks, as our ME maps indicated.  It was very freezing up there, with a thoroughly chilling wind, introducing us to the winter weather of Lesotho (despite the two jackets we had just bought for ourselves from a trader at the bus station on our arrival here).

We gained a modicum of shelter at the pillar and rock at the north summit, from where we could look back at the peaks in South Africa we had recently climbed, and the other way to the edge of the Maloti Mountain plateau which covers the eastern part of the country.  Despite the cold we found quite a few sheep and goats up there, which impressed my friend by their large size and thick woolly coats., with a few locals too walking about there.

We set off to explore the plateau further, but were driven down by the cold, discovering later that the actual highest top of the mountain lies in a piece of forest there.

Time to summit about 1 hour.

2 Butta-Butte Mountain, 2314 m 3.7.18

We called this Butta-Butte Mountain  as we did not get a name for it.  It is certainly a prominent area of high ground to the south of Butta-Butte town, and we walked over several ridges until we arrived at the highest point.

From the town we walked up towards the higher hills, passing a picturesque rock outcrop (as marked on ME Maps as ‘natural-bare-rock’ and there are many on the area rendering distinctive features of the landscape. Sometimes it seems they are unclimbable, sometimes there is a village nestled at the base.  At the end of the valley we found a path leading up to the hills, and followed it along a grassy ridge. It was very pleasant walking there, with a pleasant sense of space and easy movement across the grassy country.  Just below the summit there is band of rock which we had to climb through to gain the summit plateau.  It was certainly very pleasant up there, basking in the warming sun, and admiring the views all around.

Time to summit from the town, about 3 hours.

3 Qoqolosing 2179 m 5.7.18 From Hlotse (Leribe)

This distinctive pyramidal hill we had seen from Butta-Butte mountain, standing out above the rolling buff countryside with the small scale cultivations., along with a slightly smaller and less regularly shaped neighbour we found out was called Qoqolosanaing.

We could see it well too from Leribe town, but being a little far we decided to take a taxi along the road to the foot, from where we found we had a mere 200 metres to climb up then across the long grass to the summit.  It was not so cold that day and there were pairs of butterflies about on the summit, where we sat eating our lunch. We had been told we could see Bloemfontein from there, but that day it was too hazy to see so far. But we had an excellent view back to Butta-Butte mountain, which stood out prominently from there.  We decided to walk back to Leribe across country, and this proved a very pleasant option, finding our way across the open country of fields and grassland, to drop down beside a stream behind the Crucifix Hill.  Total trip for us about 6 hours.

4 Leribe Crucifix Hill. (Sebatwanica Hill 1674 on geonames) 1798m 5.7.18

This intriguing hill stands prominently beside Leribe town, and could be readily ascended that side through the villages and fields. We actually climbed it on our route back from Qoqolosing, finding a path which gave us a route through the rocky crest which surrounds the summit plateau. It was very pleasant up there (particularly in the evening light, as we saw it), with a large new cross as well as a triangulation pillar marking the top. From there we could look down upon Leribe town with a sense of being still in the wild.

Mokhotlong District

5 Tsepeng Mountain. 3359 m  7.7.18

From the Afriski Resort.

Now we are up upon the plateau of the Maloti Mountains. It is very cold now as we are already at 3000 metres above sea level, the plateau incised deeply by numerous river (of which it seemed it would have been nice to have made some study of, so that we got to know how they connected and whence they came and went.)  And not too far from where we started is marked on the map the source of the Orange River, which names the state in South Africa,  which runs from here through South Africa westwards to the Atlantic Ocean, rending the border between South African and Namibia further down its course.

Anyway just now we intended climbing the Tsepeng Mountain, which was marked on our ME Maps, and we could see, encircled near the summit with two bands of rock, beyond some other of the plateau peaks. To get there first we had to descend to the Motere River by a small path, here finding a thoroughly frozen waterfall, though there was still some water moving in the river. A path led up the far side, passing some temporary huts of the local people, a few who were still around, despite the really freezing weather, living in the round stone huts, thatched with grass, and closed firmly with a corrugated metal door. Where people were about the camps would often be guarded by several dogs, which would bark menacingly at us as we passed.  Certainly many of them looked quite hungry, but fortunately none of the dogs we met in Lesotho were brave enough to take a bite from us.

It must have been well below -20 degrees that day, if the wind chill factor was taken account of.  From behind the bomas, after passing an older muse on a horse, and greeting him (as best we could), we continued on over the easy grassy country skirting another hill towards our peak, hearing in the distance the bells of sheep grazing on a more sheltered hillside.  On the summit we found a concrete pillar, and had good views over the plateau area, feeling somewhat reassured (in this dangerously chilly weather) to see to the neat strip of (artificial) snow of the Afriski resort, not too far distant. We could see too the various rivers cutting down into the plateau.

Time to summit from Afriski, about 2 and a half hours.

We did not stay too long there, but found a (rare) sheltered spot below the lower band of rock on which to bask in some warmth from the sunshine to sustain ourselves with lunch.

6 Mokhotlong local mountain 2716m 9.7.18

This peak with a modest rock cap stands beside Mokhotlong township which lies at about 2000 metres above sea level, in a valley at the end of the Mokhotlang River which winds westwards towards Thabana-Ntleyana, the highest peak on the plateau (and in the country, and indeed, as expounded, the highest peak in the southern hemisphere south of Mount Kilimanjaro), and joins the Orange River just a little further down.

It was certainly a little warmer there, than where we had been previously, and there were a lot more people living around here, in villages further up the valley, seeing them coming into the town, almost always on horseback – and the local people could ride very well, often galloping at quite some speed, with their balaclavas over their heads and their traditional blankets protecting from the cold. We got talking to a few of them, and began making friends.

On this hillside too there were a good number of temporary bomas, and many signs of sheep here, with many droppings on the ground. We just escaped being eaten by some of the dogs beside on we passed, and met the inhabitant  later on our descent out collecting dung, for sure there is no wood up here for cooking, so this must be the only fuel. We did not unfortunately have any spare food to give him. Sure some must have been appreciated.

We actually  climbed up by a straight stone causeway leading up the hill to a water tank, which had been built it seemed over a waterpipe to protect it from freezing.  On the summit we sat beside the stone pillar and looked up the valley, seeing the villages and the way up towards the highest mountain in this land.

7 Phutha Mountain. 2999m 11.7.18

This peak we had seen marked on a relief map seen on the wall at Afriski, which lies at one end of the ridge leading towards a higher peak called Maloli.

It took us a few days to get to climb it, but when we did we were rewarded by an excellent walk, and a pleasant sunny day. We made our way out of the town passed the Funeral Services (of which there  are a great many in Lesotho),  and the High school. The road then bent up towards the valley,  but a well used trail beside a stream made a shortcut up to the ridge, on which we met quite a number of people heading to or back from the town. We cut up from this making our own route up the ridge to our peak, which made a very comely brown colour. Amongst the vegetation here in parts were some remarkable and wonderfully picturesque vegetable sheep (Raoulia sp) in pinks and buffs and yellow greens which inspired a good number of photographs, sometimes with small bonsai trees growing out of or beside them.

It was warm enough this day to a whole hour on the summit by the cairn eating our lunch and admiring the view, which lend an excellent perspective over the area.

Time to summit from the town 3 hours.

8 The Twelve Apostles 2913 m  12.7.18

From Sani Top, about 2876 m.

This peak we rather accidentally climbed, when we went out for a walk from the Sani Top Resort, from where it is a distance of only two kilometres (which nonetheless feels a great distance when it is very cold with an even chillier wind penetrating through your clothes.)  We had been interested to walk out to the edge of the plateau, to investigate the view from there down the escarpment into neighbouring South Africa. And certainly we were rewarded by a spectacular sight, for great cliffs here descend some thousand feet towards the rolling lands below. From here we could look down on the winding skein of the dirt road forming the way up from South Africa, on which we could see the 4WD cards proceeding with great care.  A small rock cairn marks the top, which lies in the centre of the apolstles. With six rock buttresses on either side of us as we counted.

9 Masoba-soba 3215m 13.7.18

This peak with its pillar-like top and visible protruding cairn is well visible from Sani Top. We climbed to it in absolutely Antarctic conditions, and it seemed unbelievable that we made it. We found a small path leading behind the border post, and made our way up to the modest rocky peak. From the summit we gained a view of two peaks to each side, which we identified as Hodgson’s Peaks north and south. The latter was the higher, so we opted to descend from there and climb that, on the way leaving Lesotho, to cross the border into South Africa.

Despite the weather however there were still some birds surviving here. On our return near the resort we encountered close by a comely Cape Thrush and a Cape Sparrow. According to a poster in the resort we might also have seen here a Drakensberg rock-jumper, Cape Vultures, and Sentinel rock thrush.

Time to summit from Sani Top, about 1 hour

 

 

South Africa – 10 mountains

Fouriesburg  Hill 1980 30.6.18

From Fouriesburg

. We had not in fact intended to stop in Fouriesburg, but we were inspired on arriving here by the pleasing nature of the place and the sight of a few small grassy buff coloured hills nearby.

This on we attempted the following day, and as the height of Foriesburg is already 1800 metres it was not too arduous a climb. We were not too sure of the route, so we set off somewhat speculatively, on route finding a Saturday market with local farmers selling small goods. Here we were told we must speak to the owner of the land who we would find at one of the lodges along the way.

We duly came to a large residence called Glen Skye Lodge where we were directed to the house of the owner (whose name we later learned was Peter). He told us we were free to climb the mountain, and that if we saw anyone collecting wood there we should tell them they should not be there.  We did not find the way he had directed until the way down,  but made a pleasant climb, first taking the road towards the Meiringskloof Lodge, and then branching up to the left through a gate, making our way across the grass and low scrub up the slope. We found along the way, and particularly on the descent many picturesque bushes, now covered in red or orange berries. From the summit we could look out to the adjacent canyon and hill above Meiringskloof, somewhat higher than the peak we stood on. And southwards towards the intriguing hills of Lesotho.

2 Meiringskloof Hill 2266m. (also marked on goenames as Ventersberg). 1.7.18

We decided on the Sunday to attempt the higher hill opposite the one we had climbed the day before, as it had been so pleasant up there in the open landscape. This one belongs to the adjacent estate, which is managed to allow access to walkers. So we paid some Rands each to enter the area. There was a path leading down and across the small river which runs in a gorge behind the campsite and chalets there. Climbing up the other side we passed below some rocks and emerged on the open hillside beside a wooden cross.  Our way then led up beyond here over the open grassy  and heather mountainside towards our peak.  Along the way we met many lesser kudus grazing there, and also two klipspringers near the summit.

The summit was marked with two stone pillars nearby to a disused weather station surrounded by a fence. The northern summit made an excellent viewpoint for the adjacent hills and rich farmland with large fields.  To the east we saw the hills of the Golden Gate National Park

Time to the summit from the Lodge, 2 hours.

SECTION II

3 Hodgson’s Peak South 3257m 13.7.18

This is the highest of two distinct peaks lying to the south of the Sani Pass in the Southern Maloti Drakensberg Mountains, in the KwaZulu-Natal state. From the west the peaks form a distinct cup shape, which is known as the Giant’s Cup.

We actually climbed them from the Lesotho side, at Sani Pass, from where we only had some 400 metres to ascend. And it made a very pleasant walk, of about 2 1/2 hours from the road,  in wintery conditions. It made a pleasant walk over the easy grassy heathland, until we gained the summit area, where we found a small path negotiating for us a passable course up the rock band surrounding the summit, from which one emerges by a small chimney at the small rocky summit, being perched here right on the edge of the perpendicular cliffs descending beyond. Seeing there just a few feet beyond the cracking rocks, which surely must fall down in due course of time. It is a very spectacular place to be. We were fortunate too, for whilst we had experiences Antarctic conditions on the ascend, we found on the summit a change of weather, with the warmer air filtering up to us from below,  such that it was warm enough there to sit for quite some time enjoying that place, and the views in all directions, back along the ridges of Lesotho and out down over to the lower land of KwaZulu-NAtal state on South Africa.

Time to summit from the pass 2 1/2 hours/

4 Tortoise Rocks 1868m 14.7.18

From Pholela Hut, Cobham Nature Reserve. Southern Drakensbergs.

We climbed this mountain in the late afternoon on the way back from an exploratory forey from the Pholela Hut along the Pholela stream. On our return we noticed a well-made constructed path, marked with white painted footprints, leading up the hillside (which we found out later was part of the 5 day trail leading between the Sani Pass and Bushman’s Nek across the Southern Drakensberg range). It was quite misty that day so we did not see much beyond, but we found it was leading satisfyingly up this hill, until it passed below the rocks of the summit, where we branched up to the summit itself, which proved a breezy spot that day.

What was noteworthy to us was that there were no domestic animals grazing up there as in Lesotho. So the territory is left to the various species of wild animals, such as the eland and reedbuck. We saw that day quite a number of baboons on the cliffs there even though there is practically no forest here, and the grassland is everywhere even and short, for it is burnt regularly it appears (we did not know why, except that people in this area of South Africa appeared to like burning).

We descended by a more direct path which came down behind the workshops near to the staff quarters of the Cobham Nature Reserve

5 Grandpa Peak (Ndlovini Mountain) 2219m 15.7.18

The day we climbed this we were rewarded with really excellent weather, with pleasant sunshine, warming the air, whilst picturesque snow had been falling on the upper slopes the previous night, which remained on the shaded slopes all the day. It was really a most memorable day, and a worthy sample of the Southern Drakensberg area.

We set off from the Pholela Hut passing alongside the Pholela Stream, then crossing it to head by the path up the Emerald valley path. We soon however left this to branch up a slope towards the ridge. There are many rocky outcrops and gendarmes on this mountain, so it takes some care to negotiate a route past them. This however we managed to do without difficulty coming up to the rocky upper area known as Grandma, before descending a little before reaching the summit plateau of Grandpa. There was still ice up there on the plants, but it was warm and balmy enough for us to enjoy some time there. We could look now up the Emerald valley towards the Giants Cup of the Hodgsons’ peaks, from whence we had looked down on this, and been inspired by this lower peaks, which proved regardless of their height no less dramatic to climb.

We had thought about descending via the valley of the Trout Beck, which cuts an indent into the Ndlovini, but realised there were too many lines of steep bluffs to enable us to descend that way. Instead we followed a good path made by the kudus or klipspringers (which were our sole companions up there too that day, apart from the many baboons nearer the base). This way led us below the bluffs, by a safe traversing route across the buff and red coloured grasses, the colours of which at this winter season were warmingly picturesque to see.

6 Hlokoma 1909m 16.7.18  Means ‘place of echoes)

From Underberg town.

This wedge shaped hill we had seen from a distance, from the higher Drakensberg peaks, standing up above the foothill farmlands. And we were pleased to find that it was conveniently close to Underberg so that we could climb it in a late afternoon. We found a way up initially behind the Berg View residence, making our way up the grassy slopes to the summit where is a small mast and some solar panels as well as a pillar.

The top makes a really excellent viewpoint. You can see the local lakes to the north, and the Unzimkula River in its small gorge on  the southern flank. But best we had an excellent view (now in profile in the fading sunlight) of the Southern Drakensberg mountains, notably Garden Castle, Little Bamboo Peak. Siphonella and Ndolvini which we had climbed, beneath the line of the Lesotho escarpment with the Giants Cup clearly visible there.  It was certainly a very worthy evening’s jaunt.

7 Little Bamboo Mountains 2418 m  18.7.18

This mountain is well advertised on the tourist brochures,  at least people in Underbeg seemed to know it, along with Garden Castle opposite. It is one of the prominent free-standing peaks in the Southern Drakensberg area, standing to the east of the Lesotho Plateau.

We decided to take a taxi along the road from Underberg, taking us some 20km along the road towards Drakensberg Gardens. The way to the mountain starts conveniently at the point where the Giant’s Cup Trail crosses the road. So we were able to follow this up some way alongside the stream, before cutting off along our own way towards the mountain itself. Like Grandpa peak, there are bands of rock forming cliffs across the slope, so it takes some care to negotiate a route. We decided to follow a stream up, passing to the right side, which proved a little cold higher up as we came onto the shaded snowy slopes, so I was quite pleased to get above this onto the sunny slopes again. It was an easy way up from the ridge to the rounded grassy summit which affords good views to some of the adjacent peaks we were able to identify, such as one called The Policeman, another called Pinnacle and over to Garden Castle. Above us were a good number of Cape Vultures soaring, as well as some white necked ravens. We also disturbed a couple of klipspringers up there on the way.

The addition of snow and cold surely added some extra spice to the climb. But it was very pleasant there, with colourful grassland and quite a few native trees now growing there now.

We were lucky enough on returning to the road to gain a lift in the back of a passing truck to Underberg.

From Hilton Petermaritzberg

8 Swartkop, Nbobo 1471m 21.7.18

This is a modest sized hill standing behind where we were staying at Knoll Farm in Hilton, but it makes an interesting viewpoint on the surrounding area’ and when it is clear (as it was not that day due to fires in the vicinity) we were told you could see almost as far as Durban.

From the farm we walked along the road, then turned up towards the hill through the village (where the singing for a funeral was taking place at the corner). There is some woodland on the hill, but the hill seemed to be much used for recreation by the local caburu boys who liked to ride about there on cross-country motorbikes.

The summit area is a rocky plateau with a communication mast here and two trigonometrical points. From the north side we could see lake Midmar near to Howick, and from the south side, from we could look down at the conurbation of Pietermaritsburg below us.

The name means Black Hill is Africaans. The zulu name, Nbobo means ‘big thatching grass’.  whilst the hill nearby called buchan means ‘small thatching grass’. Though now all the local houses have corrugated iron roofs, so grass is no longer collected here.

9 The Knoll 1267m 21.7.18

This is the small hill, maybe only sixty metres climb from the house, behind the historic Knoll Farm Guesthouse,  an old settlers farmhouse which has been here more than 150 years. The hill itself resides on the property.  Most of it is covered in planted pine trees, and there is a communication mast on the top. There is also the remains of a fence here from what must have been an earlier settlers house here, so one can speculate how life must have been here for the incomers in these earlier times.

From Vryheid town

10 Vryheid Hill 1450m 24.7.18

This hill is also called Lancaster Hill, and most of it constitutes a nature reserve behind Vryheid town. The south part of the hill is enclosed bya high deer fence, and inside are a good number of zebras and possibly other animals as we discovered when we strayed round to the eastern side. From there we had good views to the adjacent more substantial mountain of Zungwinin (1700m) which we were rather wishing we had decided to climb instead, as we would certainly had gained some good views of the surrounding land from there.  However we had to be content with our lookout perch that day as we had left it too late to change our plans.

 

 

 

Burundi – 10 Mountains

Burundi
Bururi region, Mabanda District (commune)
From Mabanda
1 = Samvura Hill 24.11.17
A Kirundi name meaning ‘rain’
This was just a short jaunt to the broad hill lying adjacent to Mabanda village, a gentle slope capped with a small plantation of planted eucalyptus trees. There are many paths about the hill with people heading off to various villages beyond. As it was evening on the descent we were greeted many times by people, learning and putting into practice a few greetings along the way. The point we learned was that in the Kirundi language, as in England, the greetings meted out are repeated in the response, unlike in the Swahili language in Tanzania, where the response is always something different to what is said.
2 = Namgomque 25.11.17
(Kombe and Gojima peaks)
This is the name also of a village nearby.
For this walk we were accompanied by Washusha, a driver from Mabanda village, with whom Petro had been talking the day previously, who brought along a friend, a schoolteacher called Nester Nyeno, who was happy to come for some exercise on his free day (this being a Saturday).
From Mabanda village we followed tracks through the villages and cultivated land towards the ridge of hills we could see to the west. We chose to climb the prominent one capped with some planted forest. This proved a good choice, as the summit was well covered in pine forest, which although not the native species here, was still very pleasant to wander through. We were meeting a few local people up there, collecting wood, though the forest was not it seemed really being used for local wood collection. It was a little reminiscent of European forests up there, with the forest floor clear, and covered in brown needles.
The final summit we reached (beyong a smaller hillock called Gojima) gave good views over the surrounding hills, and to the north, despite the trees. It was here that the threatening rain finally hit us, in a modest downpour as we ascended, rending a sense of remoteness amidst the deep greyness of the sky and the surrounding mist.
It took us some 2 and a half hours walk from Mabanda, taking somewhat longer on the return due to the slipperiness of the muddy roads.
This hill we found was also a forest reserve, with a concrete marker mear the top spotted by Petro which we assumed was indicating this.
From Makama
Makamba District
Kahoshe Hill  26/27 11.17
This is a small but prominent hill lying to the north of Makamba, sometimes called Antenna hill as it is capped with a communication mast. The first afternoon we set off to climb it we were stalled by a colossal downpour, and ended up sheltering inside a small shop near the foot for a couple of hours whilst it abated, getting into some interesting conversation with the shopkeeper there, a local farmer too who lived in the area, whose name was Aminane Ninora. So we were learning many things from him about Burundi and its history and culture. We managed to ascend the hill the following day to complete our task, on route back from Namseque for which we were accompanied by Aminane.
It was very pleasant on the summit in the small patch of ‘planted’ pine forest there, in which we took some photographs.
4 Namseque 27.11.17
Sometimes called Fugiso, after the village of Vugiso behind the peak.
We were told about this peak back in Mabanda, and it seemed to be quite well known as a ‘local’ mountain in the vicinity. Though when we got to Makamba it took us a little while to get the correct answer as to which was the prominent hill we were looking at from there; so I was pleased when I found we were heading for Namseque.
As for Namgomque, which we had ascended from Mabanda, the climbing of this hill required first some walk along tracks through villages and cultivated land to reach the foot. But it was pleasant going all the same, as the farmland neatly and thoroughly covering all the neighbouring hills is very pleasant to see, with its patchwork of greens and brown, particularly in this season when the crops are all rapidly growing.
Then once we reached the mountain itself, we were pleasantly surprised to find quite an extensive area of rocky mountainous grassland, finding our way around a ridge, skirting beside a rocky cliff, to get to the highest summit, where we could appreciate our sense of elevation from our rock and grassy perch (for there are no trees on the mountain as such) = happy to have made it to the peak we had heard of some days before.
It is not the very highest hill in the range, as behind we found another hill, which we might have walked to over the moorland had it not been so distant, capped with a communication mast. But we were happy enough in reaching where we did, which was a good three and a half hours walk from Makamba.
We sat quite a while on the summit, with Petro talking to Aminane, who spoke very good Swahili, which he had learnt locally from traders from Tanzania, who had many stories to tell us about his experiences as a soldier in the army during the disturbances in Burundi.
5 Kibimbe 28.11.17
This is a hill we had spotted from Namseque the day previously, and had decided looked worthy to climb. Again we were accompanied by Aminane, on this slighly longer walk from Makamba. We set off first alongside the Sindosi River, flowing here in healthy spate at this time, passing several villages and finally a school until we came to the mountainside itself. It was a very pleasant walk along the ridge here, and the views from the summit were, I think, more extensive than from Namseque, as now we could look north over the many hill to further hills, and more distant plateaus, one of which we estimated must be where Mount Heha lay, the highest hill in Burundi, which we hoped to climb later. We had excellent views too over to the surrounding districts, Aminane pointing out to us Bururi village to the west and Rutana to the north and Kayagora to the east.
This hill is fairly prominent from a distance with distinct two peaks, and we ascended first beyond the highest point to another summit to gain better view, returning over the higher summit.
It was noteworthy on the way passing many cultivations of French beans.
From Ijenda
6 Umusozi Heha 2667 m  30.11.17
The highest mountain in Burundi
Accompanied by Corbei, a young man from the village near the foot of the mountain who we met on the path.
From Ijenda we took a motorbike first along the road to the junction where there is a signpost indicating 15 km to Mount Heha. Another pikipiki brought us along the winding roads, crossing over several rivers to the foot of the mountain area where there is a shelter and a signboard erected by the Burundi Tourist Board welcoming visitors tot eh mountain, pointing out that from the summit you can see Lake Tanganyika, Bujumbura city and the countryside of the Mwara region.
We did not see any of these things, as the top was thoroughly enshrounded in mist whilst we were there, though it was still very pleasant there in the low forest of planted pines and macrocarpa, with a spongy carpet of pale yellow.green moss carpeting the ground, which we walked a little was through to attempt to get some view over the trees (beneath the mist). On the return we came down beside a communication mast on a lower hill by which time it was raining quite heavily so we were grateful to find some shelter under the frontage of some buildings beside the road, crammed in beside many other locals, with some drinking beer in a room behind. Whilst we were there a truck came to deliver more supplies of the local brew (here called Primus, bought in 720 ml bottles), as this was clearly of some priority here, and we gained a lift in this for a short distance of the descent to the next but one village. But we gave that up soon enough once the rain had abated, to make our own way back the 15 km along the road = for it was very pleasant country to walk through, crossing three times the river Mugere River and its tributaries which arises here on the nearby slopes, reaching Lake Tanganyika after about 15 kilometres at the point south of Bujumbura where stands a monument to the meeting of Livingstone and Stanley on the banks of the lake in 1867.
We passed many plantations of tea on route, and several trucks coming down bringing sacks of freshly harvest tea leaves.
On the ascend we had passed several of the round thatched houses of the Watwa people, who make up a small tride of ‘bushmen’ and pastoralists here , as well as some similar huts of the Watutu people. By the path we met three Watwa children, who a little shy came and posed fro photographs with Petro.
From the signboard to the summit, 1 hour. REturn by road about 2 and a half hours.
From Ijenda
7 Umusozi Mugongomanga 1.12.17
With Salvator, a young man and a trained artist, from Ijenda village.
This is a modest but fairly prominent hill rising above the countryside to the north of Ijenda, a little higher than Umusozi Manga to the left of it, which had been marked on our map at 2199 metres. This however proved a good choice of hill to climb, not least because there was also some very pleasant forest there.
But first we walked through the villages and farmland to reach the base, led on some shortcuts by our guide, noting as we did some of the plots had as many as four different crops growing in the / notably maize, potatoes beans abd sweet potaties. There were also quite a lot of tea bushes here and there, as well as some avocados and bananas. The tea is processed in a factory in Ijenda which we had walked past on the way.
It was very pleasant to make the short ascent on somewhat steeper paths through the forest which is mostly of cypressus, with the same springy moss beneath as on Mount Heha, if not quite so lush, and a few rocky outcrops, one of which we sat by to eat our lunch. On the top we met the four askaris looking after the equipment who were very welcoming to us, and despite a fair amount of cloud we could see down to part of Bujumbura to the west, and north to the region of Mount Teza (as was pointed out to us). To the south we could see Mount Mukike, which we had passed on route to Mount Heha = though this is rather an elusive peak from a distance, so we did not see it from here. |
8 Umosozi Mboza 2.12.17
With Hanover, a caretaker at the hotel we stayed in Ijenda who came with us, who was himself originally from the Buhonga area where the mountain lies. Along with six (or more) local children from the village who showed us the way up by the paths
We had found this modest hill marked on our Internet map, located near to the road leading down to Bujumbura from Ijenda. The road is descending rapidly here in a snaking valley, and the climb up from Buhonga village is fairly steep, first through the cultivated area where the maize and runner beans were growing well, then through some plantations of small trees, to the slopes of the hill which lead to a flat area just below the summit where there is a football pitch. From here, through the trees one gets a good view down to Bujumbura city, spread out down below, and you can appreciate that the hill could just as readily be ascended from the city side, as an excursion from the town. From the top also we could look over the northern end of Lake Tanganyika, and the smooth line of the beach before the delta of the Susuzi River, which marks along its length the boundary between Burundi and the Congo,  forming also a connection between lakes Tanganyika dn Lake Kivu between Rwanda and the Congo.
Quite a number of photographs were taken on the summit, along with our young friends, who were predominatnly dressed in brown, beige and orange colours,

From Bugarama

Bujumbura Region, Buckeye District
9  Umusozi Teza (2660m)  5.12.17

Mountain Teza we had found on our map, and refers it seems to part of the range of hills here which is protected in the Kibira National Park. The peak we climbed, a prominent one, set behind the ridge but still seen from below near Teza village is called Nanguira., a Kirundi name, the meaning of which we did not find out.

We went accompanied by Regis, a young man, originally from Bujumbura, working at the hotel we stayed at in Bugarama.
From Bugarama we took a car along the road to the junction leading to Teza where there is signpost notifying of the tea plantations there. We then walked along the road to Teza village, and continued on along tracks and paths through the tea plantations to the foot of the forested area which lies above them, along a range of different peaks. Along the way we are noting quite a number of tall Araucaria (monkey puzzle)  trees planted by the roads. It was very pleasant there walking through the neat green rolling fields of tea, making a very tidy landscape, with the boundary of the forest beyond clearly defined.
We were very happy and surprised  once we reached the forest, that we were walking amongst native trees, of tropical rainforest, hearing the family calls of forest birds (seeing here a small mammal, probably a squirrel beside thepath in the trees). This was the first time we had seen native forest here in Burundi, as elsewhere we had only seen exclusively planted trees, and it was very pleasant and gratifying to see and to be there. There was a good path up too, leading gradually up through the trees and along the ridge for some way until we came to a small priminent peak, also forested which we climbed by a steeper path. Beyond this were a couple if possibly higher peaks, one of which was bare of trees, with some habitations on the top, and the further one also had been cleared for grazing. Our perch, despite a certain amount of cloud gave us good views to the north and the line of forested mountains forming the Kibira national park, out to distant peaks in the far distance. We could also look back over to Buckeye village to teh east, and beyond that between the hills we could see the flatter lower country of the northestern part of Burundi.
This was certainly a very rewarding peak to climb, due to the forest and with a certain sense of remoteness as it is set back away from the ridge. On the return we encountered an enormous earthworm, some half a meter in length, meanding slowly across the path.
10

Rwengura Mountain 2561m 7.12.17
From Kayanza
Rwengura is the name of the village with a reservoir nearby. We saw this mountain marked as a spotheight on our map, and met a man, a shoe-mender, in Kayanza who was happy to take us there. We took a car from Kayanza to Rwengura village, at the foot of a large tea plantation. We then walked up past the tea factory and along the winding routes between the tea bushes, to the forest area at the foot of the mountain. The forest here was not as pristine as it had been at Mount Teza, though we were, it seemed still in the Kibira national park area. People here were cutting down some of the exoitic trees for timber, at the mountain paths were well used by villagers.
It was a very pleasant walk up through the forest though, til we gained more open ground towards the summit. What was a surprise to us was the wonderful view when we reached the summit, unexpectedly finding there was nothing higher beyond us. So we had good views west to the western corner of Burundi, which seemed quite well forested, and somewhat wilder than the other parts of Burundi we had encountered. We could see also back to Kayanza town and the other villages on the hillside. Eastwards we could see down to the Rwenzori River.
It took about 2 1/2 hours to reach the summit, so we find we have a decent walk.