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Lesotho Ultimate Challenge

Date:25 to 30 November 2013
Location:Sani Pass Hotel to Malekhalonyane, Maluti Mountains
Entries Close:21 Nov 2013
Starting Time:06:00
Registration:13:00 to 17:00, 24 November 2013 - Sani Pass Hotel
Late Entries:No
Timed By:N/A
Seeding and Batching:No
Fully ROAG Administered Event: No
Event Website:http://www.detourtrails.co.za


Entry Fee
Lesotho Ultimate Challenge - 500km R 8 500.00


  • Challenge Momento for all finishers
  • Challenge Riding Shirt

All foodprovided as part of the event entry.

The terrain will be mountainous and steep over rough gravle roads and pony trails.  Riders will encounter natural trails, rocky climbs & descents and river crossings.



Our vision is to responsibly organise a multi-day mountain bike expedition challenges that attract the interests of riders who are more committed to challenging themselves against the natural and extreme Lesotho environment than racing their counterparts on manicured courses

Through associated sponsorship and media coverage we aim to promote tourism and conservation of Lesotho for the benefit of its people. Funds raised around the event will be used for community education in conservation and tourism


Detour Trails has been exploring and operating mountain bike trips in Lesotho for the past few years. The more we ride and explore here, the more we are blown away by the ever increasing opportunities for mountain biking at its purest

The sparsely populated rouged high mountains of the country are nothing like anything in SA, offering a pristine natural environment ideal for challenging mountain biking with unbelievable scenery

The few mountain bikers who have tripped here with us have convinced us that we should string together the best trails we have found into a challenge or expedition race and expose them to a greater mass of mountain bikers

The 2013 Lesotho Ultimate Challenge is the first of these, providing an opportunity for mountain bikers to test their skills and stamina against some of the harshest terrain but most rewarding imaginable

The Ultimate Challenge Format

This is an expedition ‘race’, not a formal stage race meaning that there is no formal timing system or marked route. It is compulsory for every team to have at least one GPS with the route tracks loaded.

Riders can enter in teams of 2 – 4 riders per team. Solo riders can enter, but will need to provide proof that they have completed a similar or more arduous mountain biking event requiring good navigation skills, such as Freedom Challenge RASA or Ride-to-Rhodes, Great Divide or a long multi-day adventure race such as Expedition Africa. In Lesotho even the best navigators can get disoriented and lost without adequate navigation aids.

There will be a number of support riders who, in addition to having the GPS tracks, know the area and route well. If any riders are concerned about their navigation skills they are encouraged to ride in a group with one of these support riders

There will only be a latest start time each day and riders can choose to start any time before. This time will be set at the nightly briefing which will also be the time the sweep rider leaves for the day.

Each rider will need to sign onto the route at the start of the day and off at the support station giving their start and finish times. These will be used as an informal timing system for those who are interested.

Basic Scope of Supply

Access to six days of trails and all necessary support to enable riders to navigate the trails. GPS tracks will be e mailed to all riders the week before or can be uploaded at registration

Reasonable emergency support including a doctor or paramedic on the trail. In addition it is compulsory for each rider to have emergency medical evacuation insurance

Logistical support including luggage transfer between each leg, food and accommodation for each of the six legs plus for the night after the Challenge at Malekhalonyane. A celebration dinner is planned here. See details below.

Beneficiary Detours for Good (DFG) Foundation

The main beneficiary of the Ultimate Challenge is the Detours for Good  Foundation which is our social and environmental responsibility arm

5% of all entry fees and any further funds raised by the entrants will go to DAFG Foundation

DFG Foundation does projects in the areas in which Detour Trails operates in order to contribute to the preservation of our fragile environment and to improve the lives of the communities who allow access to their trails

All funds raised for DFGF by the Ultimate Challenge will be used for projects in Lesotho


Fund Raising

Any funds raised by individual riders can be deposited into the Detours for Good Foundation Standard Bank account no. 251883426, Durban North branch code 042826 or handed to the nominated representative of Detour Trails at the Challenge


The route chosen for this first Lesotho Ultimate Challenge is intended to challenge both the stamina and skill of most riders. It is impossible to string together great riding in Lesotho without the occasional portage, but these have been kept to the minimum so that good technical riders will be able to ride all of the route but these few exceptions. In order not to spoil the surprise of the route, only brief information is being provided beforehand. Over the 6 days of riding the route covers +/- 510km and riders will climb +/- 14300m.

The route is being improved and optimised even more over further exploring, so any changes will be to improve the riding experience. Take the following as approximate distance and ascents.

  • Day 1: Sani Pass Hotel to Molumong 80km, 2620m ascent
    No Ultimate Challenge anywhere near Sani Pass would be complete if the pass was not included! So the first day takes in two icons well known to many riders, being Sani Pass and then Black Mountain on its way to introducing riders to the splendour and challenges riding at altitude in Lesotho offer.
  • Day 2: Molumong to Thaba Tseka 90km, 2350m ascent
    day might look a little easier than the first day, but be warned there are some hectic descents on rough trail and some demanding climbs that characterise this day. The 700m plus climb out of the Senqu valley comes late, so riders will learn from this day that it’s not about distance, but rather more about terrain!
  • Day 3: Thaba Tseka to St James Mission Hospital 88km, 2800m ascent
    This is without doubt the ‘monster’ day with a few climbs of over 700m each. The trail is a variety of rough Lesotho roads and trails made by the locals and their livestock. The few kilometres of tar near Thaba Tseka will be welcomed by even us mountain bikers who normally avoid it like the plague!
  • Day 4: St James Mission Hospital to Semonkong 70km, 2300m ascent
    After three tough days of riding this day is a welcome break from high altitude climbing as the enjoyment begins!
    The trail along the ridge between the Mantsonyane and Senqunyane Rivers has the potential to be one of the sections of the entire route which will be spoken about for many years. This is not only because of the spectacular trail itself, but also because of the remoteness felt and scenery encountered. The lung busting portage out of the Senqunyane valley will define the challenge.
  • Day 5: Semonkong – Bethel, 86km, 2100m ascent
    After a great stay at the Semonkong Lodge, riders will have another special trail ride further south before dropping into the Lesotho lowlands at Riverside after which the trail undulates its way on rough roads to the Bethel and the mighty Senqu. Bethel is an interesting permaculture operation using only solar and biogas for all its needs.
  • Day 6: Bethel – Malekhalonyane, 92km, 2200m ascent
    The day starts with a quick ride to a ferry trip across the Senqu and a short lung busting climb out of the valley to Mt Moorosi before it wends its way up into the Quthing valley. Given that Lesotho is a ‘bowl’ there’s no option but for there to be a huge climb up to the rim of the bowl before the plunge down Ongeluksnek back into South Africa to the finish, a celebration dinner and final night.

Support Stations

As Lesotho is roughed and the places visited remote, a wide variety of establishments will be used as overnight destinations. These are community villages, tented camps, luxury lodges and mission stations with this variety adding to the unique experience of being in such remoteness

Each rider will need to pack all their kit into an 80l plastic container or equivalent supplied which will be trucked from support station to support station

At each support station there will be:

  • Ample food with a meal on arrival, a continuous supply of tea and coffee, evening dinner, breakfast before departure and food each individual prepares to take on the trail
  • Soft drinks and alcoholic beverages can be purchased from the local communities
  • Ablution facilities with hot water
  • Basic bike wash facilities
  • A wide variety of comfortable sleeping arrangements in keeping with the location of each support station

Accommodation is provided at Malekhalonyane for the night after the Challenge. There will be a celebration dinner to give all the riders time to appreciate their achievements

Riding Support

  • The nature of the challenge does not allow for dedicated water points en-route. Details of if, when and where the support crews will be able to meet the riders will be detailed at the daily route briefing
  • All riders should prepare sandwiches to take with each morning and have a supply of their favourite trail snacks
  • There will be at least one point to fill hydration packs per day (even one where a pony has taken water ahead!)
  • There will be a number of support riders on the trail with one specifically acting as the sweep rider. In addition to GPS, these riders will be equipped with Satellite phones and radios to help with navigation and any emergencies
  • There will be a dedicated doctor or paramedic riding on certain sections of the route which are of a highly technical nature and are inaccessible by vehicle

Challenge Rules
(Details will be published in due course, but this challenge will not be over-regulated as it is intended to allow expedition type riding with the minimum of control)

Compulsory Equipment

(Riders need to be self-sufficient between support stations and capable of doing their own running repairs for the entire challenge)

  • Standard mountain bike and riding gear
  • Large hydration pack with space to carry additional clothes and equipment
  • Warm thin fleece, storm outer shell (both top and bottom)
  • Whistle, head torch, small flare and medical kit (these will be supplied as part of your challenge pack)
  • Mobile telephone with international roaming
  • Bicycle tools, tyre repair kit, frame specific hanger, chain master link, assorted zip ties

Recommended Equipment
(This will be completed in due course)

Health and Safety
(Details being prepared by the Challenge Doctor)

Additional Services
Transfers: We are in the process of negotiating for cost effective transfers from King Shaka International to Sani Pass (on Sunday 24th) and from the finish at Malekhalonyane (on Sunday 1st December) to both King Shaka and Himeville