Just before descending the small natural rock staircase, I turned back to look once more at our idyllic spot by the waterfall. The sun shone brightly on the enormous cascade of white water and a small breeze rustled the bushes that our dog Mosa had so unwillingly left moments earlier. It was a place of perfect peace on a sunny afternoon, returned to its natural state after twenty friends and seven dogs enjoyed several fun filled hours amidst its beauty.
Qiloane Falls is not on the tourist trail – if there is such a thing in Lesotho. It is an hour and a half drive up into the mountains east of Maseru and then a lengthy hike over somewhat difficult, and usually wet, terrain. There is a pony trekking centre for those who would prefer four legged transportation, though it would not be an ideal first trip for the complete novice horse rider.
The path to the falls is not marked, which is normal for Lesotho, but it’s easy enough to follow if you have some semblance of an idea of where you are going. The key is to find the river, which seems logical enough if you are looking for a waterfall, but it is especially important because the best way of reaching the waterfall is to walk up the riverbed.
There is a way to stay on dry land, but that is not as much fun as walking up a slippery, potholed river of freezing cold ankle deep water! In the dry season you can walk all the way to the falls without getting your boots wet, but with the rain we have had lately, this was just not possible.
The walk was amazingly beautiful with the soft sounds of water running over rocks nestled beneath soaring hillsides and the occasional bird overhead. The last bend in the river takes you under a large cliff face striated with black rock where you can hear the roar of the main falls echoing above you. At the crest of a small ledge in the river the falls come into view, though still partially hidden by the mountainside.
Only once you are practically right in front of them, can you see the full sweep of the last part of the falls which are roughly thirty meters across. Above the largest section are a series of other falls even further up which you can see after hiking up the side – a bird’s eye view from across the way would be the only way to see the true extent of this waterfall.
We stayed there for several hours and enjoyed the majestic beauty and nature of this special place. Once the sun came out, almost everyone dared to take a dip in the dark and cold koeetseng, the place of a deep pool of water, to cool off and sit under the powerful roaring falls. Legend has it there is a large serpent living there at the base of the falls but luckily we were not privileged enough to witness such a creature or be impacted by its magical powers.
As far as waterfalls go, Qiloane Falls aren’t the highest or widest or anything else, but the whole location is a truly special place of natural beauty worth experiencing.