Snow humbles SA drivers
Tourism operators warn visitors from sunny climes against pushing their luck in Lesotho
AN abandoned wreck pushed to the side of mountain pass covered in ice and a big 4x4 bakkie that spun without warning last week had many drivers worried how they would get down the Moteng Pass in Lesotho.
Johann du Toit, owner of African Expeditions, sent Media24 photos of conditions on the pass to warn people not to underrate journeys into the mountain kingdom during winter.
“People asked us to get their car down,” Du Toit said. African Expeditions guides 4x4 expeditions.
Snow has been covering the high peaks and the mountain pass over the Maluti mountains and wind chill factors quickly saw slush turning into ice, on which only snow tyres with metal studs can maintain grip.
“In good weather that pass perfect — it is a tar road — but if the weather changes, you take your life in your own hands,” Du Toit said.
He said South Africans are typically not prepared enough for a change in weather when they sail up Lesotho’s mountain passes. Then they are often arrogant on the road and refuse to heed his warnings, he added.
Du Toit and Michael Hauptfleisch, co-owner of the Fouriesburg Country Inn, 10 km from the border, want to see only 4x4 vehicles allowed into Lesotho during winter.
The drivers must, however, know how to drive on slippery ice, otherwise they will spin out of control, at the mercy of gravity.
Mancafalo Motsoeneng, manager of public relations at the Lesotho Tourism Development Co-operation, said all motors are welcome in Lesotho, but tourists must do their homework and not drive on impulse, especially not in winter in the mountains. THE best advice for motorists to drive in snow is — don’t. Driving TO snow is always a fun road trip, especially if the children have never seen the white stuff before. But heed the advice of those who work in icy conditions and stay well away until the snow starts to melt.
Europeans learn to respect ice by falling down very hard just trying to walk on pavements. On road they fit winter tyres and even invest in all wheel drive vehicles like Subarus and Audi quattros just to maintain traction on iced roads. Even then, a slight incline can see heavy 4x4 cars slide sideways into a ditch while moving forwards.
SA are masters up sand dunes and when it comes to crawling over axle bending rocks. But few of us even know where to buy a snow chain, never mind how to fit one. This means we get trapped for days when a snow blizzard blows.
That is why it is best not to take the children to go see the snow until the sun starts to melt it. Better slush than sorry. • firstname.lastname@example.org
CHAINING SUNNY DRIVERS
Unnamed tourists were caught unprepared for the sudden changes in weather that is normal in Lesotho’s mountains, prompting local tourist operators to warn South Africans against driving there in winter, when roads can quickly turn deadly.