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Lesotho

Lesotho

About Lesotho

Lesotho is a democratic, sovereign and independent country which has an unusual distinction of being completely surrounded by another country, the republic of South Africa. The Kingdom of Lesotho is one of the three remaining monarchies in Africa.

Situated between 28 and 31 degrees South and between 27 and 30 degrees East, Lesotho lies entirely outside the tropics, at a considerable height above sea level, and is thus bilharzias and malaria free destination.

It has a land area of approximately 30, 555 km2, making it similar in size to Belgium or a little larger than American State of Maryland in USA.

A land of mountains, Lesotho is the only country in the world which has all its land lying at altitudes in excess of 1500m above sea-level; it is a land of heights and extremes. The mountain, Thabana-Ntlenyana is, at 3,482m, the highest in Southern Africa, while the highest single drop fall in the Southern Africa Maletsunyane is 192m, having the highest abseiling cliff in the whole world at 204m.

Often referred to as the "Switzerland of Africa", it is blessed with a beautiful, often a snow-capped range of mountains, the Maluti. The kingdom's central position in the heart of Africa's most developed economy of South Africa, is well served by air, rail and road links to all its major commercial centres.

Lesotho is only one hour by air or four hours by road from Johannesburg in the Republic of South Africa.

The Kingdom is a home to the largest and most ambitious civil engineering project in the whole of Africa, Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), which has harnessed and commercialised her up-stream surplus water sources - often referred to by Basotho as their "White Gold".

Lesotho offers a real and authentic African experience designed to restore sanity in a modern life characterised by the hustle-bustle of city life and industrial culture.

Just as much of the beauty of Lesotho is secret and understated, so is the hospitality. Lesotho , offers its visitors a good choice of accommodation, ranging from sophisticated hotels and casinos to lodges, B&Bs, where guests can enjoy peace and solitude, as well as self catering facilities for family and long term stays, and new village stay accommodation, experiencing the real life of Basotho in their homes.

The hotels and lodges provide a leisure experience rather than just a room to sleep in. One can go pony trekking on the sure-footed Basotho pony in the early morning breeze; take in the stunning mountain landscapes and scenery; watch traditional life in a place that upholds a unique balance of the old and the new; laze round and soak up the sun; and in the evening dine out or enjoy an ethnic meal around people who are sure to become new friends.

Apart from two large international-standard hotels in Maseru , there are plenty of accommodation possibilities, with some idyllic retreats found in remote spots, where the quality of welcome and comfort is first class. Backpackers are also catered for around the country.

What to Do in Lesotho

Southern Africa's answer to Nepal offers natural beauty, rugged terrain, and rich local culture and traditions, and a scarcity of civilization's trappings, such as landlords and fences, provides a permit-free playground for the more intrepid adventurers. Here are some of the more accessible adventures to enjoy in this dramatic mountain kingdom.

Horse riding

Go for one hour to six nights, seven days pony trek across, the mountain escarpments, staying in the high altitude Basotho villages. The hardly sure-footed Basotho ponies provide the best way to see the rugged domain. Longer or shorter treks can be arranged to suit your schedule and posterior. Bookings can be arranged through.

4x4

The Lesotho 4x4 trail starts in Himeville (in KwaZulu-Natal) and ends in Fouriesburg (in the Free State), having crossed the daunting Sani Pass and much of Lesotho en route. This 400 km journey can be done in two days, but it deserves longer.

Hiking

Hike the Giant's Cup trail from the Sani Pass Hotel to Bushman's Nek. This trail provides a panorama of splendid peaks, yet at the same time is one of the more accessible in the region (being relatively flat). It can be augmented by a hike up any of the impressive peaks en route or Thabana Ntlenyana, Southern Africa's highest point at 3 482 m.

Hikers can also follow the organized pony trekking routes, the starting points being Malealea Lodge, Semonkong Lodge, Roma Trading Post Guest House, Ramabanta Trading Post Lodge and Adventures, Molimo Nthuse, and the LHDA Phase 1A area and nature reserves.

Skiing

Snow skiing is possible on the slopes below the Mahlasela Pass; New Oxbow Lodge nearby rents skis and boots. There are no lifts so you'll need to hike or shuttle up in a 4x4.

One ski lift has been installed, with 15 ski huts still under construction.

Mountain biking

A trip on two wheels is a fantastic way to fully appreciate this small mountainous kingdom. A typical mountain bike tour covers about 200 km at high altitude, involving some serious passes and tricky technical sections from the start at Mpiti in the Drakensberg to the base of Ongeluksnek, the finale being a radical seven kilometre downhill.

Riders need a good degree of physical fitness for this challenge.

Roof of Africa Rally - The route passes very rough parts of the country, an event that takes place annually.

Abseiling and Rock Climbing

Lesotho has the highest abseiling cliff in the whole world at an incredible 206 metres.

Information courtesy of Lesotho Tourism.

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