Lesotho – Undiscovered Kingdom of Mountains
In the middle of South Africa, located in a harsh alpine world, lies the little kingdom Lesotho. The country's population is aware of traditions and leads a life as it was common centuries ago. This destination provides insights into an unspoiled, unknown world.
Geography - Highveld, the Drakensberg and many rivers
The Kingdom of Lesotho is completely enclosed by South Africa and about as big as Belgium. In the east, the country is characterised by the plateau Highveld, which is located at a height of 1.700 metres and crossed by table mountains and river valleys. The harsh peaks of the Drakensberg, which reach heights of over 2,000 metres, dominate the landscape in the west. They are crossed by several rivers such as the Orange River, which has its source there. The rivers have dug deep canyons into the rocks and cut their way into the valley with impressive waterfalls. Lesotho has temperate climate, which is cold in the months July/August but hot from November to March. The differences between day and night temperatures can add up to 45 °C (from -15 to 30 °C). The country has about 300 sunny days throughout the year.
Nature - From grassy landscapes to the harsh mountains
Grassy landscapes, which are covered in hills and rivers, steppes and harsh mountains constitute Lesotho's main landscapes. Unspoiled nature stretches for miles. The shielded valleys contain forests of acacias, eucalyptus trees and pastures. The aloe plants with their long, hard leaves are also widespread. In addition, accurately arranged peach plantations dominate the picture. Members of the country's fauna are the grey rhebok, the sheep and numerous birds such as eagles, vultures, storks and herons.
Natural sights - The Maletsunyane Falls
The Maletsunyane Falls in Lesotho, which have a drop of 193 metres and are the highest waterfalls in southern Africa, are definitely worth a visit. You can best experience the beauty of the vast, unspoiled landscape with its endless meadows in the Sehlabathebe National Park. Besides the many wetland biotopes, the Tsoelikanyane waterfall is one of the park's highlights. The journey over the Sani Pass is a real adventure because you drive along an abyss on winding roads - travellers are left breathless. The pass is the highest one in southern Africa and connects Lesotho to South Africa.
Culture - The Bantu people of the Basotho
In contrast to other African countries, Lesotho is only populated by one ethnic group, the southern Bantu people of the Basotho. They immigrated the territory in the 11th century. In the course of time, several peoples and countries conquered the loosely united tribes, for example the United Kingdom. The country has been independent since 1966. Most of the population still live in villages and carry out agriculture. Traditions play a major role. One of them is the wearing of elaborately decorated colourful woollen blankets and the distinctive, pointed straw Basotho hat, which is the national landmark. The inhabitants also still practise the art of rock painting.
Cultural sights - Capital Maseru and the impressive Katse Dam
The capital Maseru is a great entrance to the exotic enclave Lesotho. Worthwhile attractions are the Royal Palace, the historical cemetery and the parliament building. The city also has a casino, which is very popular with fans of gambling. East of Maseru you find the old mountain fortress Thaba Bosiu, which was formerly used for defence against intruders. Nearby you can experience the country's traditions in the Cultural Village. The way in which Lesotho manages its most important resources – the water of its rivers – is shown in the impressive, gigantic Katse Dam, which is 185 metres high and leads over the Malibamat'so River, which is a tributary of the Orange River.
Experience - Living like the people in Lesotho
The people in Lesotho like eating maize porridge and grilled meat. Both beef and antelope meat end up on the grill. Dishes containing fish or seafood are also popular. Weaving and carvings have a long tradition in the country with the mohair carpet as a popular product and great souvenir. You can also buy a typical Basotho hat. A tour through the villages with their characteristic round huts provides a great insight into the people's lives. You can, for example, camp under the open sky here. In doing so, you can relax wonderfully and enjoy the special peace and quiet emitted by the country.
Activities - Out and about in the isolated landscape
The unspoiled, remote landscape of the Drakensberg is excellently suited for hiking, horse riding and climbing. Rides on a pony are the ideal way of getting to know the country's landscape and population. Mountain bikers also get their money's worth. Furthermore, Lesotho offers the almost unique possibility of doing winter sports in southern Africa. Skiers and snowboarders can pursue their hobbies on the pistes of the Afriski Resort – by European standards in summer because it is winter in Lesotho at that time.
You can only arrive by plane at the airport in Maseru (MSU). The west of the country has a relatively well-developed road which leads from north to south. The best means of transport for travelling within the country are the common minibus taxis. Lesotho and English are the two official languages. Visitors should definitely inform themselves about the country's current security situation before their journey.
Lesotho is without doubt a special destination. It is perfectly suited for travellers who want to experience a little-known African country with its unique traditional mountain culture. The vast, natural landscapes are great locations for experiencing nature and being active outdoors.