TopGear and Range Rover Sport went to the African kingdom of Lesotho to find there the most high pub. Why? Well … why not?
Welcome to the neutral zone. With a population of zero people. We left South Africa at the foot of the pass Sani. Border post – just a couple of bunkers and barbed iron on a slope. In squeezed passport stamp, and Range Rover Sport banged gates. Now we are on the no man’s land. Lesotho border – at the top of the pass, before her 1000 meters vertically and 30 km by road. We empty the buffer zone between the two countries.
My first thought is logical for someone who is in a place where there are no laws: what can ride all you want?
Ran up! Yes, I am free, there is no traffic police, and RRS 292 hp But the road is such that faster 30 km / h will not go: stony track, gravel, steep hairpin and 300-meter cliff without a hint of bump. Commit a crime against the people even impossible – they are not.
Not counting the solitude, a neutral zone looks very promising. Spring morning foot Sani Pass – the most idyllic place on the planet. Dragon grassy slopes of the mountains, glistening like velvet frame horizon. Birds sing, meltwater streams run across the road, and almost vertical basalt peaks piled a mile overhead. Monkey flies on purple jacaranda crown. Jurassic Park, but without the carnivorous dinosaurs and Richard Attenborough.
I throw back his head. At 3000 meters above sea level, on top of the mountains, the end of the neutral zone. There begins the kingdom of Lesotho. Return it to us and we must.
SPORT SUSPENSION LIFTS AND EASY STEP PACKHORSE GOES UP
Why there? Pay tribute to the history, of course. Sani Pass – one of the toughest roads in Africa for hundreds of years it was the path by which a string of horses and mules carried goods between South Africa and southern Lesotho. Until 1948, there were not driving cars. But budding entrepreneur David Alexander conquered Sani first SUV collected rookie English automotive, Land Rover. Seven years Alexander and his Series I tamed Sani, turning donkey trail in a car primer. Land Rover did Sani, Sani did Land Rover.
However, our stay there a reason more important. Beer! Lesotho – the birthplace of the self-proclaimed “Most highland pub in Africa.” The two closest to the London edition of the pub claims the title of “most expensive pub in Britain” and “the most dangerous pub in the Northern Hemisphere.” And we said, things come in threes – need another superlative.
But it still needs to get to. We’re going upstairs, KwaZulu-Natal is removed, and a slippery, treacherous serpentine twists tighter. Enables “dirt / track” and downshift. Sport suspension and step raises packhorse directed upwards. RRS as robust in its gentle ascent, I shoot hands off the wheel and dive under the front panel. Where could fall biltonga that piece? When after a few seconds I surfaced, I notice two interesting things: a) we have a couple of meters from the edge of the abyss, and b) screech Photographer reached frequencies that are indistinguishable to the human ear. Sport is good for off-road, but he does not know how to steer.
On the south side of the kingdom is not visible until vedesh him. The last hundred meters, we crawl on an almost vertical wall, avoiding failures. Even the entrance to the lair of the world’s evil would not seem so formidable.
Strange outlandish gates in the country. Lesotho – island of impassable mountains. The country itself – statistical anomaly. The size of Belgium, it lies above a kilometer above sea level. The lower part of Lesotho is at an altitude of 1400 m, that is, this is the lowest point in the country – the highest in the world. This is the southernmost landlocked country, and one of three states enclaves. The remaining two – the Vatican and San Marino.
LOOKING UP, I SEE THAT WE HAVE A COUPLE OF METERS FROM THE EDGE OF THE ABYSS, AND SQUEAL PHOTOGRAPHER REACHED FREQUENCIES THAT ARE INDISTINGUISHABLE TO THE HUMAN EAR
We are on top, we have the Apocalypse. For a moment the bright green riot replaced black-and-gray nuclear winter. Merge ominous clouds, and wind speeds of 30 m / s collides with the north, falling asleep eyes sand. Photographer Brimble, jumped to shoot, grabs the door handle to avoid being blown away from the abyss back to South Africa.
Passing the post on the border of Lesotho – a rusty shack and a coil of wire (the border of South Africa against the background of a Fort Knox!) – We find ourselves in a different century. In a post-apocalyptic version of Dartmoor wilderness: swamps and rocky trail, receding into the distance. Ocean front monotonous bush and gravel. The air is thin and dry, suffocating, though elderly, planted four packs a day. A Sport overweening.
Slowly waddled over the potholes, we’re moving to the north, to the heart of Lesotho. Not see any town or village, only a handful of stone huts on the slopes. How did they probably cold. I’m afraid, triple glazing and underfloor reach this far not soon.
Towards squat on horse rides shepherd chasing sheep before a close formation, three in a row. Surprises them harmonious step, but then I realize they huddle to one another from the cold. Owner wrapped from head to toe in a huge poncho – are only visible eye. Feeling ot manifest tourist, I add seat heating.
Local Basotho – people-blankets. Saharan Africa only in Lesotho and elsewhere, you can ski (although mulled wine there is so-so). Difficult to imagine what could make Basotho leave mild climate plains and thick air of southern Africa and go to this harsh terrain. It turns out that two centuries ago the Basotho took refuge here from the raids of the Zulus. Anywhere, only to peace and quiet.
When we cross small rivers due to stone huts appears stout woman, her blankets flapping in the wind. She vigorously waving to us. I lower the window.
“You’re so handsome!” – She says, pronouncing the words correctly and legibly.
“Thank you! – I replied, slightly taken aback. – You’re too beautiful. ”
She nods and smiles.
“You are very big.”
Basotho are not of high growth. But I also … Lost in Translation?
“Very large and very fast. Like you. You’re a good car. ”
And, that’s it …
By evening raised black clouds, and the wind subsides. Lesotho is revealed to us deserted, ominous but beautiful party. Although the local road from time to time become appalling. Leaving from Durban this morning, we followed the Land Rover Discovery. Disco and among seven-seat SUV – Mahina in fast corners it would collapse on its side, and our Sport turned straight, do not squat, not credit nilsya, went smoothly and steadily.
Such goings-on asphalt promise murderous tin on rocky trails. But no. Work suspension is awesome. RRS running over cobblestones and ruts calm and salable. Good to see that a good SUV is suitable not only for the transportation of children to school.
RRS PROVES THAT GOOD SUV IS SUITABLE NOT ONLY FOR THE TRANSPORTATION OF CHILDREN TO SCHOOL
You see, I never understood Sport. Heavy fancy thug with a driver in the headset with a suspiciously well-groomed beard. Of course, neatly shaved creatives will the new version with the same enthusiasm. But now there is a reason to buy. This is a practical seven-seater wagon, tourer SUV and a tractor for horse transport, boat (or, if you are a true African, trailer with broken beast). The only problem may be that the Sport comes on the heels of his brother. If you need a practical all-wheel drive, and not premium luxury, I see no reason to buy instead weighty Range Rover, a million more.
But now I’m just glad that this machine could sustain Lesotho. That it is possible to domchat “Most highland pub” before sunset. We stopped at a boulder and stood there as a beacon of English superiority. Armed with a bit of foam local flood, we looked into the abyss. Dense fog rose from southern Africa, cut us off from the world at this quaint little island above the clouds. There is no better place to have a beer. And there’s no better car to get here.