Visiting enchanted mountains

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When visiting enchanted mountains…

By Phindiwe Nkosi

Indlela ibuzwa kwabaphambili” – wisdom is learnt from the elders or those that have travelled the road before you.

As an African travel writer, you get to hear and see a lot of things that you may or may not believe. A lot of these phenomena are not so much captivated in books, but people. While it is important to do formal research before going to a particular place, nothing replaces local, acquired knowledge.

Travel often incorporates travelling to places that are not what they seem. For example, while in South Africa and Lesotho, I came across two entranced mountains, said to be “mountains of the gods”. What stood out the most was that the mountains were officially known by other names, but some locals swore that there was more to them than what met the eyes.

The first enchanted mountain was mentioned to me by an award-winning cultural expert, Grace Masuku. While at Pilanesburg National Park, she told me about the mysterious terrain that was on the very terrain. She told me of how she had informed the local authorities and warned them that no one should enter, lest they never return.

While in Lesotho, I was captivated by stories of Thaba-Bosiu (“Mountain at Night”); which were said to not be stories at all. The mountain is believed to be bewitched in some way and “grows” at night to the benefit of those it protects. Many Basotho believe that this is true and was exemplified in a battle whereby the mountain constantly grew and confused the enemy to the victory of the native Basotho.

When visiting enchanted mountains, here is what you should know – according to locals:

  • Never climb the mountains; you won’t return.

Self-explanatory.

  • Trust indigenous insight over science/logic.

At times, one can be told be quite or walk past areas you are not supposed to look back at. Locals believe that one should obey without questioning.

  • Mystical ground

Do not ascend without an “invitation” to these sites which many locals described as spiritual shrines.

  • Voices

Those that believe in these mountains claim to have heard the voices of people in the village, cattle and rivers from such sites, even though there are no nearby villages. Some even cite surreal visions.

  • Trust indigenous insight over science/logic.

In such domains, indigenous insight is more valued than science, so don’t over-think or reason logically.

Do you know other enchanted places or have you been to such? Do you believe in enchanted mountains? Share your experiences, tips and views by commenting below.

Image by: LotusHead 

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Bewitched by the magic of France, Melissa Jane Cook is an intrepid explorer. A lover of traversing the globe, she eagerly absorbs different cultures and laps up the magnificent oceanic experiences. Wooed by words and writers alike, her penchant for facials, chocolate, owls and bugs, is surpassed only by her fascination with the stage aglow in lights or bookshelves that heave with stories, where characters invite her along on their marvellous journeys.

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