’Malet­sun­yane runs dry

…as drought takes toll on Le­sotho

Lesotho Times - - News - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

The ma­jes­tic 192me­tre-high ’Malet­sun­yane Falls in Se­monkong, Africa’s tallest and one of Le­sotho’s main tourist at­trac­tions, if not the prime end­point in the coun­try, have al­most gone dry.

The smoky mist they emit as wa­ter pours down a steep slope into a gorge below, cre­at­ing an os­ten­ta­tious vis­ual grandeur is gone — all thanks to the cur­rent dev­as­tat­ing drought that is wreak­ing havoc across the coun­try.

The drought, the worst in decades, is dry­ing up most of the coun­try’s wa­ter sys­tems, threat­en­ing Le­sotho’s equally re­gal flora and fauna.

The world fa­mous ’ Malet­sun­yane Falls have played host to mul­ti­tudes of tourists who en­joy con­nect­ing with na­ture at its most serene and sooth­ing mo­ments.

But even though the cur­rent drought has di­min­ished the splen­dor of ’ Malet­sun­yane, vis­i­tors to this nat­u­ral jewel must not lose hope.

Both the Le­sotho Tourism De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion (LTDC) and oper­a­tors of its high­fly­ing Se­monkong Lodge, which op­er­ates the ’Malet­sun­yane Ab­seil, the long­est com­mer­cially op­er­ated sin­gle­drop ab­seil in the world, are urg­ing tourists to con­tinue flock­ing to this nat­u­ral won­der be­cause it has many other at­trac­tions and ac­tiv­i­ties to of­fer.

“There are a whole lot of other ac­tiv­i­ties in Se­monkong be­sides see­ing the misty falls…... The scenery it­self is beau­ti­ful. Not ev­ery­body goes to ’ Malet­sun­yane solely for the falls,” says Mo­lapo Matela, the se­nior tourism of­fi­cer at the LTDC, en­cour­ag­ing tourists to con­tinue vis­it­ing the area to ex­pe­ri­ence its nat­u­ral beauty even with­out the rolling wa­ter.

Jonathan halse, the man­ager of Se­monkong Lodge, shares that sen­ti­ment, say­ing tourists have been com­ing in good num­bers de­spite the drought’s rav­aging of the falls.

But still, there is no deny­ing the im­pact of the drought on this re­gal desti­na­tion.

Fish­ing is one of the main ac­tiv­i­ties in the area and Mr halse fears this could be ad­versely af­fected as the river dries up and the con­tam­i­na­tion of the fish­ing area wors­ens from lit­ter­ing and the wash­ing of clothes as peo­ple scrounge for the re­main­ing wa­ter.

Mr halse de­scribes the sit­u­a­tion as quite scary and ab­nor­mal since they opened their busi­ness in 1990. he still hopes for more rain though to al­le­vi­ate the area’s plight and re­ju­ve­nate the falls.

The drought is also cre­at­ing a host of other prob­lems, mainly the es­ca­lat­ing costs of goods in­clud­ing fod­der re­quired to main­tain don­keys and horses used for hik­ing.

Vil­lagers like 72-year-old Mos­ala Nkhapetla, nev­er­the­less fear the very worst.

“Since I was a lit­tle boy, who herded cat­tle around this area, I have never seen any­thing like this. The falls have al­ways been in a fab­u­lous state. I’m scared that we are all go­ing to die from thirst,” he opines de­ject­edly.

The dis­ap­pear­ance of the falls and their ac­com­pa­ny­ing misty smoke has taken the shine off the very name of Se­monkong, the place of smoke.

Ar­guably the most beau­ti­ful spot in all of Le­sotho, the falls have al­ways had a per­ma­nent smoke­like mist which forms as the wa­ter plum­mets down over a ledge of Tri­as­sic-juras­sic basalt.

’Malet­sun­yane Falls is rec­og­nized by the Guin­ness World Records as play­ing host to the world’s long­est com­mer­cially op­er­ated sin­gle drop ab­seil at 204me­tres. hun­dreds of tourists have paid reg­u­lar pil­grim­ages to the area to un­dergo the ec­static ex­pe­ri­ence over the years which helps in rev­enue gen­er­a­tion and job-cre­ation.

‘malet­sun­yane Falls in their glory.

‘malet­sun­yane to­day.

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