Lesotho: the kingdom in the clouds
Surrounded by a mountain range, Lesotho has the particularity of being entirely located at over 1400m altitude. It is a country of mountains with breath taking views, a magical light, a pure and invigorating air and herds led by proud shepherds in the high pastures … Totally landlocked in South Africa, this small country seems unknown from the rest of the world and far away from the modernity of his big sister. It is an ancestral Africa, authentic made of small traditional villages settled in these picture-perfect landscapes and which can be discovered on foot, by bike or on horseback … A true jewel, forgotten by traditional tourist destinations, and yet very easily accessible from Johannesburg or Durban.
Our favorites in Lesotho
Semonkong and the falls of Maletsunyane
It is certainly one of the wonders of Lesotho! The Maletsunyane Falls culminate at 204m in the middle of majestic scenery; and you will be alone in this sublime site. The area is quite remote and it takes several hours to reach it. Semonkong Lodge is practically the only guesthouse in the area. It offers camping spots and rondavels (traditional round bungalows) modest but very comfortable. The landlords will guide you in all activities to do during your stay. Do not miss the horseback rides and abseil the falls which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest commercially operated single-drop abseil in the world! Strong sensations guaranteed!!!
Infinite landscapes and the horizon as far as the eye can see are our top favorites in Lesotho. At the entrance of the village, a sign warns you that you are at the “Doors of Heaven” and this is absolutely true … The small village of Malealea has established itself around a former trading post that has become a lodge. It’s a super friendly and modest place. Camping spots or bungalows and rondavels form a small village with swimming pool, outdoor play area and tennis court. Every evening, choral group and musicians of the village give improvised performances. During the day, a multitude of activities are available for you: hiking or horseback riding (for all levels), mountain biking for guided or unguided walks … or even Artisanal production of a small traditional guitar (your kids will love it). The lodge offers guests a shared kitchen for storing food and cooking your own food.
Ts’ehlanyane National Park and Maliba Lodge
This high altitude park offers beautiful rugged mountain and forest landscapes and is home to the Maliba Lodge. Without hesitation, Ts’ehlanyane National Park with a sublime view from the terrace of the restaurant, excellent meals, nice rooms and neat service is the most “upscale” lodge in Lesotho. The lodge also offers, at more affordable prices, self catering bungalows. From the lodge, many hiking trails (for all levels) go to the mountains. You will often cross small rivers that form natural pools where you can swim during in summer. The lodge is quite remote so you will have less contact with the population than in Semonkong Lodge or Malealea which are both built in a small village.
A mythical road that winds through fabulous landscapes to reach will take you to the “Sani Top” (2874 m high) which is also a border between South Africa and Lesotho. A 4 × 4 is required to begin this climb from Lesotho or from South Africa (you can also climb one side and go downhill to the other). At the top of the pass, the Sani Mountain Lodge prides itself on to be the highest pub in Africa. You can even stay there for one night before going back down. Bring warm clothes because even in summer, it is often very cold up there. In winter, the summits are regularly covered with snow. If you are looking for a place to stay on the South African side, we recommend the Sani Valley Lodge which is very well positioned if you want to climb.
Two unique experiences to live in Lesotho
Multi-day horseback riding
Lesotho is the country of proud horsemen. Riding in these splendid landscapes is an unforgettable experience. There are horseback riding all over the country, but the Malealea Lodge specializes in multi-day horseback trekking with rustic homestay accommodation for a 100% authentic and everlasting experience! I invite you to watch the superb documentary by Julien Naar, “The Horsemen of the Sky”.
Ski in Africa – AfriSki
Located at an altitude of 3222m, AfriSki offers you the unique experience of skiing in Africa! The unusual experience is certainly worth the detour! This small resort offers accommodation and restaurants, ski lessons, rental equipment, toboggan run … In the absence of natural snow; the resort also has snow cannons. Cover well, even under the sun; it is very cold at this altitude!
Travel to Lesotho: roads, car, borders…
If Lesotho has an “international” airport, it is generally by the road that visitors travel to the kingdom in the clouds. From Johannesburg, it will take about 4 hours to reach a border post (you will probably have to add several hours to reach your destination). There are many border offices between South Africa and Lesotho. Find out about their opening hours (which vary a lot). If you can, try to avoid the border post of Maseru, capital of the country, often very congested (long waiting hours in perspective ….). Many roads of Lesotho are very good and adapted to any vehicle. But as soon as you enter the country, you will need a 4 × 4 is useful to drive on rocky roads… Refuel in South Africa or around big villages in Lesotho because pumps are not common!
No problem to report on this side. Lesotho is a truly calm country. Keep you car papers while driving (frequent police control)
Lesotho is very underdeveloped and so is his medicine. For serious concern, it will be necessary to go to South Africa even if Maseru has a small hospital. Take a pharmacy kit for basic necessities
The population, mostly Basotho, is extremely welcoming. They live from agriculture (especially corn and sorghum) and livestock farming.
South African Rands are accepted everywhere. Sometimes, Lesotho Malotis (local currency aligned on the Rands) will be returned to you. Remember that Lesotho Malotis are not accepted in South Africa.
If you plan to do self catering, refuel if possible on the South African side (ex Clarens) where there will be many more choices. In small villages (like Malealea for example), there is only one or the other local grocery store extremely limited.