Lesotho is often referred to as the ‘Kingdom in the Sky’. A small independent country completely surrounded by South Africa, none of its 30,000 sq km lies below 1000 m and some of its peaks reach as high as 3480 m. It is dominated by the Maluti Mountains, which cover three-quarters of the country, with the dramatic Drakensberg escarpment forming the eastern side and the border with KwaZulu Natal. This region of lofty landscapes has been declared the maloti Drakensberg Transfrontier Park. To the west the land flattens out somewhat into what is known as the Lowlands. Here are most of the kingdom’s towns, the small capital of Maseru, the richest agricultural land, and it is where the majority of the population lives.
Maseru must be one of the world’s sleepiest capital cities – though in comparison to the rest of the country life here seems almost frantic. It is a pleasant and safe place to walk around to appreciate the vibrant African city street atmosphere. Basotho people are outstandingly friendly and it’s not uncommon for people to approach in you in the street to ask how you are and where you come from.Read more
Lesotho’s scenery is markedly different from any of South Africa’s landscapes: the mountains are more rugged, the lower slopes drier and the villages maintain a traditional subsistence lifestyle. Tourism is still in its infancy here, and heading even a little bit off the beaten track will allow a fascinating insight into time-honoured Lesotho customs. Herder boys roam the mountains and farmers travel on horseback, wrapped in traditional blankets.
Despite its underdeveloped physical infrastructure (climate and corresponding road conditions are subject to extreme weather conditions in these high altitudes), it has much to offer the adventurous traveller. The country’s lack of fences also provides excellent hiking conditions, while trekking with mountain ponies opens up some of the most remote areas of the country. Trout fishing is rewarding in the clear mountain streams. A real highlight is to drive through one of the spectacular roads, through lofty mountain passes looking out over valleys dotted with Basotho huts.
While it is mountain scenery that will attract most visitors, the country’s friendly atmosphere often leaves the biggest impression. If you love being outdoors and are willing to put up with a bit of discomfort to see some of southern Africa’s most outstanding natural scenery, then Lesotho is well worth the effort.