Molumong Lodge is a rustic but comfortable self-catering establishment about 60 km (90 minutes to two hours) from the top of Sani Pass, and about 20 km (30 minutes) south of Mokhotlong.
Molumong Lodge commands sweeping views of the surrounding Malutis and operates from the residence of successive traders who ran the Molumong Trading Station.
Having retained its deeply romantic ambiance, Molumong is popular with couples, families, adventurers, and travelers who appreciate its central location, often en route to Katse Dam.
Molumong also is an ideal base from where to explore the back range of the Maluti mountains, or to pursue any number of adventure activities, including pony trekking, fly-fishing, hiking, mountain biking, star gazing, and relaxing
The house currently sleeps 2o, while a secluded rondavel offers a romantic stay for a couple. More accommodation units are being established. Molumong also offers camping.
The lodge does not have electricity and uses gas for cooking and hot showers, and candles for light. It does have wonderful spring water and flush toilets.
Molumong’s biggest attraction is the snow in winter, and the pony trekking operation that is owned and run by a local moSotho who guides trips of various duration, with a three-day ride to Thabana Ntlenyana, the highest point in southern Africa, especially popular. History
Molumong’s history can be traced to the mid-1800s when Chief Rafolatsane arrived to settle the Mokhotlong area on the instruction of the Great Moshweshwe (Moshoeshoe, Moshesh).
According to oral history, Moshweshwe was concerned about the gradual infiltration of the remote mountainous area by renegade Zulu-speaking tribes who in turn were displaced by King Shaka’s expansionist policies. This period is also known as the Mfecane or the Difaqane that loosely translates to “the great upheaval”.
Arriving in the area, Chief Rafolatsane first lived in an underhang at the confluence of the Sehonghong River and a stream he named Molumong (“place of thunder”) on account of the noise of the water when in spate. The immediate district took its name from the stream, as did the small village near the confluence of the Sehonghong and Senqu (Orange) rivers, about five km north of the lodge.
Chief Rafolatsane however, chose to start and settle Ha-Rafolatsane village that comprises an upper and lower section. (Molumong Lodge is located in the upper section) The chief was rumored to be a legendary lover whose off-spring enthusiastically settled the Mokhotlong area. His wives and concubines included remnants of the Zulu-speaking tribes and also San or Bushmen women who either subjected themselves to his reign or were forcibly integrated.
Molumong Lodge started off as a trading station in 1926 when a doughty Scotsman, John White-Smith, finally persuaded Chief Rafolatsane’s successor to give him the worst piece of land in the Molumong district.
Naming it after the stream that rises in the valley to the right of the lodge facing east, White-Smith built Molumong trading station bit by bit. The progression in masonry skills is evident in all of the structures, and the stone buildings speak wistfully of a rapidly dying trade. Every bit of building material that is not stone had to be transported over Sani Pass by donkey and mule on a four-day journey.
White-Smith then bought Good Hope farm near the present day Sani Pass Hotel at the bottom of the pass and built a trading store. (This is also the proposed site for the new Sani Pass border post.) Molumong in effect became the satellite store for Good Hope, with supplies being transported from the bottom of the pass to Molumong by mule trains.
At its height, Molumong was a thriving trading station that was also a collection point for grain, wheat, barley, wool and later, mohair, that were conveyed to Good Hope. It provided the traders, their managers and their families at Molumong, Rafolatsane, and Makhakes in Mokhotlong with a good life and the means to participate in the social affairs of the British colonial administration. Regular weekend parties were held with Molumong the venue for tennis parties. (The parking area behind the house was the old tennis court).
Winds of change
Things started to change in the early 1950s when motorized vehicles started to break a route over Sani Pass and into Lesotho. The next milestone came in 1966 when Basotholand became Lesotho after independence. The new government was very unhappy with the fact that the little money earned by the baSotho for their grain, wool, and mohair, was being spent in the trading stores.
The private trade in wool and grain was banned in 1976 that brought about the end of Molumong’s trading station. The last trader, Gilbert Tsekoa then procured the property and operated a small trading store to meet the staple needs of the surrounding community as well as stocking up on basic foodstuffs for guests. Despite his advancing age, Ndate Gilbert is an invaluable source of knowledge and local history.
Following the closure of the trading station, the residence stood vacant for about 15 years before it was re-invented as a rustic but comfortable lodge. The current owner, Derek Alberts, took over in 2000 and, after a two-year absence, has renewed his association with Molumong.
Exciting times lie ahead for Miolumong as it enters a new era.
It is generally accepted that Sani Pass, still a bridle path then, was named after Chief Rafolatsane in deference to his stature in the eastern highlands of Lesotho.
Jakob is an excellent horseman and guide and runs his business off Molumong’s trade. He offers hourly rides as well as overnight out rides, from one night to a week. The overnight trips are thoroughly enjoyed by guests: (see comments). Two popular destinations are:
a) Madubedube village:
Leave on horseback for a one-night stay with a local headman in huts overlooking the Orange River (Senqu) valley. Experience typical baSotho hospitality and share a meal with the family. You may also provide your own food. Enjoy breakfast the next morning before riding back to Molumong.
b) Thabana Ntlenyana
Leave Molumong in the morning and overnight en route to the highest point in Southern Africa. The round trip typically is done in three days, depending on the riding skills of the guests. Either way, you will experience the Maluti mountains in all its glory.
Keen to set your own course? No problem as Jakob will organize it for you.
Hourly: R80 per person per hour (maximum five hours)
Overnight: R400 per person per day. A (2 day, 1 overnight) ride will cost R800, a (3 day, 2 overnight) ride will cost R1200, and so on. Price includes Horse hire, overnight accommodation, guide’s fee.
Not included: Food, to be negotiated with Jakob, or guests bring their own.
Molumong is perfectly located for 4×4 and off-road driving experiences, as well as adventure motorcycling.
Its location – S 29 21’26.2? E 29 00’23.7? – makes it an ideal STOP-OVER for travelers between Sani Pass and Katse Dam, as well as those heading south-east to Sehonghong, Matabeng Pass, and Sehlabathebe, Ramaselislo’s Gate, Qacha’s Nek, Matatiele and theEastern Cape.
Molumomng is also an ideal BASE from where to explore the surrounding area. A range of road surfaces, from relatively smooth to very technical, offer a variety of experiences to drivers and riders of all ability.
Nearby attractions include
Senqu (Orange River). Easily accessible at several points by means of a number of roads and tracks.
Menanoaong Pass (3015 meters): One of a handful of road passes in southern Africa higher than 3 000 meters
Old Menanoang Pass route. A challenging switch-back track that is no longer used
St James short-cut: A spectacular small road that traverses part of the original Sani Pass-Mokhotlong road.
Molumong is also in STRIKING DISTANCE of other well-known off-road attractions including the Kao Mine road, the old road from Katse Dam to Mapolanoneng, Kotisephola Pass (Black Mountain Pass) and Sani Pass.
Molumong is a favorite Adventure Motorcycling destination as it offers convenience, comfort, meals and limited refueling at highly affordable rates.
Molumong is one of the best-kept secrets of the fly-fishing fraternity. We encourage responsible fly-fishing to strike a happy relationship between guests, surrounding communities, and the natural resources.
The Molumong basin is part of a greater Sehonghong catchment that empties into the Senqu (Orange) River that winds its way in a southwesterly direction through Lesotho. Located on the south-eastern rim of the plateau overlooking the confluence of the Sehonghong and Senqu Rivers, Molumong is in close proximity of five rivers within a 10-km radius, and a further six rivers within a 20-km radius.
Most rivers are readily accessible by vehicle, but it does in some instances require leaving it unattended, and having to pay a nominal fee to have it watched.
EITHER do your own thing…
… which is not a problem, but we suggest the following:
a) Leaving a vehicle unattended. A small fee to an adult or the oldest child in a group who, in all probability, will come and observe you.
b) Be respectful towards the locals.
OR hire a local guide at Molumong
do the interpreting, negotiate with the locals, help carry things, and generally ensure a tranquil day along the river. His cost is R150 a day that includes: A guiding fee, and hopefully, a well-earned tip for a job well done
Hunting wild spawn on horseback in remote rivers
Another option is to hire a horse guide and a horse for yourself, and spent a day or two hunting wild spawn on horseback in the more remote watercourses. The cost includes a night in a herder’s hut, guiding fee, and a traditional meal. This is a new adventure, but the rave feedback from our pioneers suggest it is a winner! For more information, please reply on the comment function below.
Finally, we want feedback on the fly-fishing experience and will appreciate any helpful response. Anybody offering constructive criticism will be offered a 10% discount on their next stay at Molumong!