Snow in Africa? Yes, you read that correctly. Although many people don’t think about it much, it does snow in Africa.
For many people, snow is something they will see over a number of days almost every year. For a large majority of Africans, this is definitely not the case. Although South Africa & Lesotho receive snow more frequently than any other African countries, most people living in the region don’t see any unless they go up to the mountains or the weather is much colder than usual.
In the 20+ years I lived in my hometown, it has only snowed twice. Funnily enough, the first time it happened was a night I was on a flight to Switzerland. So like many South Africans, I still think of snow as an extraordinary novelty.
One weekend there had been snow in the mountains of Lesotho, so we decided to go snow hunting. This entailed waking up at an hour that cannot be mentioned, a good amount of hot tea & a long drive in order to get to the border early. On the South African side of the border, you don’t go into a building, instead you hand your documents through a window & they get handed back. So there we were shivering & with passports in hand, shuffling along in the queue.
I’d never been to Lesotho before, so I was actually blown away by the winding roads & exquisite landscape. All along the route there were traditional little huts, donkey wagons & what seemed to be every person walking by wearing a blanket & traditional hat, which I was later told is called a mokorotlo.
Finally, we reached the snow. With mountain waterfalls & ponds frozen & a blanket of white, it gives a ‘winter wonderland’ effect that is difficult to put into words. Something about this seemingly mystical, crystal, white stuff brings out your inner child. The very first thing you want to do is make a snowball & fling it at one of your friends.
It made sense for us to make the most of the trip & the snow by going to a ski resort. This way we could use equipment & facilities to our heart’s content. The thing about ‘playing’ & falling in snow that has never really been expressed to us rookies is that snow is wet & you get cold, very cold. We weren’t dressed correctly for snow & naturally we are accustomed to a much warmer African climate. Maybe it is something genetic or maybe I’ve been spoilt by good weather, but I really struggled with that cold.
Something I didn’t think about with that temperature is that the African sun is still out & as strong as ever. Not once did I apply sunscreen to my face. Another thing I was unaware of was how active you are doing these activities – I must have used every muscle in my legs. So for the next week or so, I struggled to walk because my legs were so sore & had a face as red as a tomato to go along with that. The snow hunt was successful & the experiences had along the way were invaluable… even if it meant, for the next few days, having people ask what made my face so red.
Keep traveling, keep safe.