Downhill Skateboarders from all around the country make the pilgrimage to the Mountain Kingdom at least 2 times a year, usually around MAR/APR and AUG/SEP. Rumours of these passes were known to the longboard and luge Community for many years but only recently since Lesotho has had a major revamp of the roads by the Chinese, has the downhill skateboard interest skyrocketed.
One of the first Tours took place in early 2014 and where most of the “prospecting” went down, finding Gems such as Mafika Lisiu and Marakabei. Later that year was the first time I had traveled to skate Lesotho, together with 12 other skaters from around SA. The years went on and as the voyages continued the hill hunts went deeper and deeper into Lesotho, This is when some of the new roads in Ramabanta had just been completed, hence the name “Black Tar”. There are bound to be even more mountain passes to discover in Lesotho but for the moment these beauts were more than enough to keep us busy.
The Joburg Crew head towards the Lesotho border Sunday Morning 4 am, the Cape Town and Mossel bay guys had gone down a few days earlier, and by the time we were closing in on the Lesotho border, we were able to check some of the vibe (and carnage) that had gone down already through Instagram. Go check out Gravity Dogz insta story highlights for the low down.
We decided to head straight to Ramabanta to go check out “black Tar”. On the way we pulled off at the top of what looked like a beautiful run, Nick Simic and Juan White kicked it off with the first run, the thing is with Lesotho you learn something every trip. With this trip we learned the hard way to always check a run in its entirety before skating it, unfortunately, after a couple of sweeping turns and bends just around a blind corner were some rumble strips waiting to sideswipe Nick and Juan, Nick with a tasty leg roast and Juan with a couple on his back we headed to the campsite for the night.
We spent the next day and a half at “Black Tar”, which is an equivalent of a European downhill race circuit. Perfect tar, Long sweepers and tight hairpins, videos, and pictures can never do this hill justice. Every drop is steeper and every kink is tighter than you think. Other runs in the area include “Kong”, which was unfortunately in a horrible condition with rocks and gravel when we passed through and “Lucifers” which is more of a joke between skaters being the gradient is ridiculous and at the bottom of the steepest hairpin are some fat rumble strips.
Day 3 we traveled across to Marakabei Lodge to meet up with the Western Cape guys spending the day travelling and hitting passes on the way. As we arrived and met up with the other guys i envisioned the meme of The ninja Nurtles meeting up with The Power Rangers.
All of us sharing the stoke and our own carnage stories of the trip so far. I myself had just high-sided the previous day together with Juan and Nick’s rumble strip incident, we then saw Blue Goodman and Liam Trusler had a solid collection of roasties themselves too. A couple of other members also with some Lesotho tattoos. With the constant talk of road tax and how so many of us ate shit, I think it was around this time the trip was dubbed (By Nicky Taylor if not mistaken) as the #VATincreasetour.
The next day we brought the rain with us but only delayed us by half a day. We spent the rest of the afternoon doing both sides of the Marakebei pass which includes “Mohale”, “Hacheche” and “Hanoi”. Evenings were always spent frothing on the day’s activities and watching the footage, guys were definitely stacking some clips keep an eye out for the Media from Gravity Dogz and ZBB boys.
Doubt ya’ll even ready for @kahlildexjad_zbb @bluegoodman_ and my runs down black tar ? me and @kahlildexjad_zbb filming. #mountiankingdom #lesotho @powellperaltadh @aeratrucks @baboonboards @venomskate most gnarly footage on it’s way.A post shared by Giloume Van Der Walt (@giloume_) on Apr 2, 2018 at 11:10pm PDT
Another round up of footage captured at a dicey hill down in Lesotho ?? The guardrail kisses were real ⛰ @valhallaskateboards @venomskate @paristruckco @s1helmets @alphalongboards @sucrosewheels Featuring @giloume_ @decio11 #LTPTA post shared by Kahlil ‘Jahlil’ Dexter-Jadwat (@kahlildexjad_zbb) on Apr 3, 2018 at 2:14pm PDT
Last run I did in the mountain kingdom …was a 12 minute run so cut out a lot. This is throw away footy so you can expect dank clips to come out⛰? @kahlildexjad_zbb filming me ? . Riding 72mm @aerakrimes @powellperaltadh wheels. And @aeratrucks 46* @baboonboards
A post shared by Giloume Van Der Walt (@giloume_) on Apr 8, 2018 at 1:51am PDT
The next day was almost all spent traveling, for the Gauteng convoy’s one wrong turn set us back about 2 hours. The dirt road connecting Marakabei and Mafika lisiu was so much worse than I remember, but after about a 9-hour car trip we arrived at our sleep spot situated right at the bottom of the Darkside of Mafika Lisiu.
Early start to get to one of the most beautiful and breathtaking mountain passes in Lesotho, Mafika Lisiu. I could almost cry that I wasn’t able to skate but it brought me great joy to watch all the other guys blast the 10 min + descent.
It makes for a tough road trip to try to get it to all the spots, but due to having so many Lesotho Virgins on the trip we felt the need to show the guys everything, in future the perfect trip for me would be 2 to 3 days at Mafika lisiu and then 2 to 3 days at “Black tar”. But no matter how many roasties I leave with or how many body parts I battle to move once I’m back from the Mountain Kingdom, I will always long to be back in Lesotho to go do it all over again!
Words & Photos: Peter Kohne