Merc's X-Class bakkie gets axed

Mercedes-Benz will soon cease production of its double-cab bakkie.

Where you shouldn't park your Porsche

This driver could not have been very thrilled about landing a pole position.

SA to Lesotho in a Ford Mustang: Tackling mountain passes in a GT convertible

2018-03-18 10:38

Charlen Raymond

Image: Wheels24 / Charlen Raymond

AfriSki, Lesotho - It was an early start to the day at Moolmanshoek in the Eastern Free State. At around 7am most of the road trip expeditioners met at the stables where we were seated on a horse.

For the next hour or so we’d be exploring the farm on horseback. Not running or doing wind-in-the-hair speeds with the horses, the tranquil experience really woke us up. Not least because of the horses releasing those very fresh early morning flatulence… Soon we were back and ready to nestle down with a warm plate of traditional boerekos.

READ: Epic road trip: SA to Lesotho in a Ford Mustang

Stomachs filled, we loaded the Ford Mustangs’ boots with our luggage and hit the road en route to the Lesotho border. This time around the 5.0-litre V8 Mustang GT convertible was the vehicle of choice and the weather smiled kindly.

With overcast weather and the sun hidden behind the clouds, I made my way to the highway with the top down. The freshness of that farm air filled the cabin and for that fleeting moment I longed for the countryside. Where I find my roots.

A farm of trains

In Ficksburg we filled the petrol tanks and headed to the Lesotho border on the Free State’s side, but not before stopping over at Sandstone.

As we pulled into the Sandstone property, a steam train was waiting for us; ready to transport us to the farm where one of the most interesting experiences awaits us. Sandstone plays home to a magnitude of trains, all driven by steam, except for one that is powered by diesel. Not only are there trains, but a few of the sheds are filled with tractors.

Name a type of tractor from whatever year and chances are that it’ll be stored. And, said the tour guide on the farm, the value of one tractor shed is in access of R300-million! That’s a big number to wrap your head around.

From Sandstone the convoy headed out to the Calendonsport border post through which we will enter Lesotho. With absolutely no hassle at all everyone was in and out in no time and soon we were in the Kingdom of Lesotho.

Wow! What an absolutely stunning country.

Amazing greenery, hills as far as the eye can see, kettle and other livestock grazing next to the tar, and people living mere meters from the road. 

Hills come alive

On our way to AfriSki, the ultra-popular ski resort in the Maluti mountains, the GT convertible made the climb up the mountain range. The roads are festooned in potholes and it took careful navigation to avoid it and oncoming traffic. It’s almost as bad as some Eastern countries, this oncoming traffic! But the roads wind up the mountains, snaking and curving beautifully for amazing driving conditions.

The GT convertible, though, did have its work cut out on the ever-climbing mountain roads. The engine is a naturally-aspirated unit that does without any form of turbocharging. Stomping on the throttle is accompanied by a slight delay in response, but then all 306kW and 530Nm of torque is unleashed. However, contending with heights of more than 3km above sea-level, there is quite a drop in engine performance. That’s because science dictates that the higher the altitude, the harder an engine will work.

And it’s the same with the GT.

Yet, the Mustang ran once the available horsepower got to gallop. Toggling between Sport+ and Track driving modes and steering feel between Sport and Comfort (depending on the road), the car ran quite well on the swooping road.

There is a point on the long mountain pass where the road has been tarred and it has to be Lesotho’s finest road. It winds and flows, which really played into the hands of the GT’s long distance cruising credentials.

Steering, though a tad light, felt good, which made driving the car an absolute joy. And with the top down and temperatures dropping to below 10°C, the V8 engine made beautiful sounds that echoed off the hills. Oh, and while we’re on the topic of temperature.

Whilst taking pictures of the cars before heading into AfriSki, the hills literally became alive as Basotho men came flocking towards the cars from where they were herding their animals. But while us South Africans were all shivering from the cold, their dress code consisted of boots, underwear, and blankets. In those temperatures! And though it didn’t bother them, we couldn’t get to the resort fast enough for a well-deserved hot shower.

Read more on:    ford  |  charlen raymond  |  lesotho  |  mustang  |  roadtrip

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.