Exploring beautiful Lesotho in the evergreen Nissan Navara

Gugu Masuku packs a bag and heads out to the land of the Basotho in the rugged and capable Nissan Navara Stealth

26 June 2019 - 13:17 By Gugu Masuku
A trio of Nissan Navaras near the Afriski Resort in the land of the Basotho.
A trio of Nissan Navaras near the Afriski Resort in the land of the Basotho.
Image: Supplied

Nissan is making a trend affiliating itself with fun and youthful activities. Understandably so, because the youth are the future, so it make sense to align your brand with this generation.

Well, the Japanese brand has done it again. This time it was the official vehicle sponsor for the eagerly anticipated Pop Bottles Ski Festival held at the Afriski Resort in the land of the Basotho.

The vehicle of choice for the event in the snow-capped mountains was the cosmetically enhanced version of Nissan’s benchmark off-road steed, the Navara. The latest incarnation has been dubbed the Stealth and was my chariot for the cross-border trip into Lesotho, and, given a choice from Nissan’s catalogue, I would have picked the Navara twice for this application.

The road to glory is not a smoothly paved one. You’re faced with many obstacles, from potholes the size of a tub to long stretches of warped road shoulder wrinkled by thousands of tons of trucks and, of course, poor maintenance has a role to play too. The Navara was up to the task with its five-link rear coil suspension and was the ideal tool for the job, because many of these death traps would sneak up on you in the middle of negotiating a bend or while passing an oncoming vehicle.

Your options are very limited in any of these instances, and I often found myself being forced to drive through a crater in the road. Not ideal for the vehicle’s mechanical structure, but the slogan for the Navara is "rugged redefined", after all.

Once across the border, the assault from the poor road conditions continued, the only difference being that there was a steep mountain to ascend. It took the better part of 30 minutes, nonetheless the Nissan 2.3 turbodiesel with its 140kW and 450 Nm promised to deliver, and it did.

Once I had arrived, I was glad to find the event firing on all eight. I had never been to a Pop Bottles instalment so this was the debut. The event itself is full of music, and this edition was headlined by some of our most celebrated DJs and artists, from your Sjavas to the Anatiis of this world.

The Stealth’s styling updates made it fit in with its environment like an exotic bird with bright colours on an island. They aren’t major tweaks, just black wheels, some decals and orange accents to the exterior and interior, with the insides receiving orange stitching on the dual-tone seats.

The atmosphere around the resort was as vibrant and full of fun as our vehicles, with live music acts throughout the day. For those, like myself, who enjoy the outdoors, there were plenty of activities on offer to quench the thirst for adventure, from 4x4 trails facilitated by Nissan through the scenic mountains and frozen streams, to skiing and snowboarding. It was a thrill-seeker’s paradise, I tell you.

As an avid enthusiast of all board sports (surfing and skateboarding included) I had to try my hand at snowboarding. From the outside looking in, it looked like a breeze. I stood there observing the seasoned pros gracefully snaking their way down the slope and thought to myself, “I can do this!”. Well, I soon found out that snow, land and water are not the same.

After many failed attempts and a slightly bruised ego I finally got the hang of it. Thank goodness for perseverance. Driving back to Johannesburg in the late afternoon I got to appreciate the beauty of the mountains under the spell of the warm, ambient glow of the sunset. It was quite a scene to take in. And after that little escapade I would encourage everyone to take a short left and discover some of the not-so-hidden gems of our region.

I’ll definitely be making my way back to Lesotho in the very near future.