Adren­a­line On Tap

Premier Magazine (South AFrica) - - Motoring - Text: Julie Graham Images © Shawn van Zyl, Afriski

Tucked away in the rugged hills of the vast Moun­tain King­dom of Le­sotho is a play­ground for those that seek unadul­ter­ated adren­a­line all year round.

Sit­u­ated at 3,222 m above sea level, high in the heart of the Drak­ens­bergma­luti Moun­tains, Afriski Moun­tain Re­sort is the per­fect place for those who have ad­ven­tur­ous souls and want to be sur­rounded by un­matched nat­u­ral beauty.

My un­quench­able thirst for ad­ven­ture led me to this moun­tain­ous play­ground for some mid-year ski­ing. There is an al­most Euro­pean vibe to Afriski, with guides and in­struc­tors from across the globe who make the an­nual pil­grim­age to Le­sotho in Win­ter or Sum­mer to share their ex­per­tise with guests. How­ever, there is the un­mis­take­able sense of Africa from the rugged land­scapes, vast open skies, and warmth of the lo­cal Ba­sotho peo­ple.

Sum­mer (Septem­ber – May)

Sum­mer be­gins in Septem­ber when the chill starts to sub­side and the snow stops fall­ing on the Drak­ens­berg-ma­luti Moun­tains. Afriski, fully-equipped with moun­tain slopes built for snow ac­tiv­i­ties, is the per­fect play­ground for a va­ri­ety of ac­tiv­i­ties to get the heart pump­ing.

In Sum­mer, the area be­comes a hub for moun­tain bik­ing, guided En­duro mo­tor­bike trips, trail run­ning, 4×4-ing, paint­ball, hik­ing, fish­ing, ab­seil­ing, and more. Util­is­ing the Win­ter fa­cil­i­ties, Afriski has the only T-bar lift in Africa with five ex­hil­a­rat­ing down­hill moun­tain bike tracks as well as the Kapoko Park which of­fers bik­ers an ar­ray of thrilling ob­sta­cles and ramps.

Train­ing at high al­ti­tudes is an­other draw card in Sum­mer, with the re­mote trails, cross coun­try cour­ses, and marathon dis­tance routes at­tract­ing avid sports­peo­ple from all over the world.

Win­ter (June – Au­gust)

Afriski thrives dur­ing Win­ter, with hordes of peo­ple trav­el­ling from near and far to en­joy the plethora of snow ac­tiv­i­ties on of­fer.

Since the in­tro­duc­tion of world-class, mod­ern snow mak­ing fa­cil­i­ties and lifts in 2004, Afriski op­er­ates much like that of a Euro­pean ski vil­lage and of­fers phe­nom­e­nal ski­ing and snow­board­ing. Whether you are a com­plete novice or sea­soned pro­fes­sional, fun is guar­an­teed. Pro­vid­ing all the com­po­nents for a great ski holiday like ski equip­ment, snow passes, ski school, and more, the

Since the in­tro­duc­tion of world-class, mod­ern snow mak­ing fa­cil­i­ties and lifts in 2004, Afriski op­er­ates much like that of a Euro­pean ski vil­lage and of­fers phe­nom­e­nal ski­ing and snow­board­ing.

re­sort has made a name for it­self around the world.

Ski­ing and snow­board­ing are, of course, the big­gest draw cards and the top-of-the-range snow­mak­ing ma­chines en­sure that the slopes are in top con­di­tion all Win­ter.

The Ski School has all the ex­per­tise nec­es­sary to help you learn and im­prove your skills on the snow with lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional in­struc­tors im­part­ing their wis­dom and en­abling you to mas­ter the lat­est styles. Kids can also dis­cover the fun un­der the close su­per­vi­sion of a team of ded­i­cated staff at the Pudi Kids Club, which means, while you hit the slopes, they will be safe and en­ter­tained all day long.

For the more ad­vanced skiers and snow­board­ers, the Kapoko Snow Park of­fers a va­ri­ety of adren­a­line pump­ing ob­sta­cles like rails, jumps, and fun boxes, which pro­vide end­less en­ter­tain­ment and can help you hone your skills.

Other fun ac­tiv­i­ties for the whole fam­ily to en­joy in­clude bum­board­ing and tub­ing, which are a lit­tle like sled­ding – a great way to spend the day hav­ing care-free fun.

Stay and Dine

Afriski has ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions rang­ing from sim­ple back­packer style ac­com­mo­da­tion and the more up­mar­ket lodge op­tions, to beau­ti­ful wooden moun­tain chalets and con­tem­po­rary apart­ments. All op­tions are a stone’s throw away from the fa­cil­i­ties and restau­rants, and are equipped with ev­ery­thing you need to make your stay in Win­ter or Sum­mer as com­fort­able as pos­si­ble.

When hunger strikes, Sky (known as the high­est restau­rant in Africa) serves break­fast, lunch, and din­ner and pro­vides for all tastes with burg­ers and piz­zas (these are made in a tra­di­tional pizza oven and are a real treat!) as well as more tra­di­tional fare. Of­fer­ing strik­ing views of the slopes and moun­tains, Sky is the per­fect spot to start the day or un­wind in a re­laxed, friendly en­vi­ron­ment.

Gon­dola Café and Après Ski Bar is lo­cated closer to the slopes and serves drinks through­out the day as well as lighter meal op­tions like pas­tries, sand­wiches, and muffins. The wood-clad café has an ex­pan­sive deck from which to watch oth­ers take on the slopes. At night, the café trans­forms and of­fers the ul­ti­mate Euro­pean Après Ski ex­pe­ri­ence on the roof of Africa with DJS and live bands, as well as Foos­ball and other games. One par­tic­u­lar game that Afriski is renowned for is “up­side down­ers” – an at­tempt to break the ex­ist­ing record by drink­ing shots while hang­ing up­side down from a snow­board at­tached to the roof.

How to Get There

De­spite feel­ing as though you are on the edge of the world, Afriski is only 80 km from the South African bor­der. Driv­ing from Dur­ban, one would en­ter via the world-fa­mous Sani Pass (which is an ad­ven­ture in it­self). Those com­ing from Jo­han­nes­burg only need to drive around four and a half hours via the Moteng and Mahlasela passes. The roads are good in Le­sotho, but it is ad­vis­able to al­ways check in with the re­sort as weather con­di­tions can make driv­ing a bit tricky – es­pe­cially in the Win­ter months when the snow falls.

Af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the magic first­hand, it is no won­der Afriski Moun­tain Re­sort has firmly es­tab­lished it­self as a top des­ti­na­tion in south­ern Africa. Af­ter only two nights there, I felt as though I was say­ing good­bye to fam­ily. Dur­ing a day on the slopes, it is im­pos­si­ble to not make friends, and at night, rev­elry is abun­dant at the Gon­dola Café where the staff go out of their way to host shows, quiz nights, and all kinds of fun ac­tiv­i­ties for guests to en­joy. Afriski truly is a special place, and if it is not on your bucket list, it should be.

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