Lesotho is otherwise known as the Kingdom in the Sky, because of its high altitude and mountain peaks, Lesotho offers the traveller a different face of Africa, which is closer to alpine in climate, scenery and vegetation. Invigorating mountain air, spectacular panoramas and a rare birdlife combine to attract outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world.
Popular ways of exploring the countryside is through hiking, and trekking by 4×4’s or on the back of ponies. Renowned for their crafts and hospitality, the Basotho people offer a warm welcome when they say Khotso (peace), at the same time inviting you to experience their tiny, traditional villages and the unspoilt serenity that is Lesotho…
Temperate subtropical. Frost occurs frequently in winter. Most rain occurs Oct-Apr and is usually concentrated in fierce thunderstorms.
1 Lesotho Loti = 100 lisente. South African Rands are accepted. Visa, Access/MasterCard and Diners Club credit cards have limited acceptance and the use of traveller’s cheques is limited outside Maseru.
220 volts, 50Hz. Plugs are 2- and 3-pin round.
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers coming from infected areas. Visitors are also advised to take pre-arrival precautions against typhoid, hepatis A and polio. Other health concerns include minimal medical facilities; unavailability of many medicines; food- and water-borne illnesses, particularly amoebiasis, typhoid fever and cholera; influenza (risk is May-Oct); AIDS; and tetanus.
Sesotho and English
New Years’ Day (1 Jan); Moshoeshoe (11 Mar); Heroes Day (4 Apr); Good Friday (9 Apr); Easter Monday (12 Apr); Labour Day (1 May); King’s Anniversary (17 Jul); Independance Day (4 Oct); Christmas Day (25 Dec)
Basotho hat; grass woven items (mats, brooms, baskets); pottery; wool and mohair rugs; tapestries; textiles; rock painting reproductions; traditional seed, clay, bead and porcupine quill jewellery; silver, gold and ebony items; copperwork; African chess sets. The Basotho Hat Store is a good place to find local crafts.
Main religions are Christianity and traditional African religions – these and the older generation should be respected. Normal courtesies and friendliness will be appreciated. Dress is casual, but modest. For business, dress in a lightweight suit and tie and observe usual formalities, but expect a casual atmosphere and pace.
Tipping is recommended at restaurants and hotels.
TOP TEN ATTRACTIONS DESCRIPTION:
Maseru and surrounds:
Basotho Hat, the principal handicrafts centre; the Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Victories; the Papal Pavillion; Thorkild Hand Weaving and Moteng Weavers; Lancer’s Gap, for views of the city and Caledon Valley; the Peach Blossom Route, in August explore the nearby orchards by car or on pony; Roma; Morija with its National Museum; and Matsieng featuring the Royal Summer Palace (closed to visitors).
Within easy reach of Maseru, a flat-topped hill features the substantial remains of the dwellings and villages of King Moshoeshoe I as well as the royal cemetery of Lesotho.
A short drive from Maseru, you can find a wide variety of souvenirs in this town whose weavers and craftsmen sell their wares in the many craft centres available; close to the town are some San (Bushmen) rock art.
Malealea and surrounds:
The Gate of Paradise is a spectacular pass on the road to Malealea with panoramic views of the plains dotted with attractive traditional villages, in spring alpine flowers alongside the road are in flower; an outstanding pony-trekking centre is available in Malealea and trekking or hiking routes include a number of waterfalls e.g. the Maletsunyane Falls and indigenous alpines such as the famous Spiral Aloe; nearby Mohale’s Hoek is scenic and at nearby Motlejoeng visitors can explore some of the most interesting cannibal caves, which are found throughout Lesotho.
About 5 miles north of Hlotse, Subeng Stream Dinosaur Trackway is one of the best examples of dinosaur trackways in Lesotho; the footprints of several different dinosaurs some dating back to 180-200 million years ago, are preserved in sandstone; the Moyeni and Masitise Dinosaur Trackways feature the footprints of many different dinosaurs as well as other primitive reptiles.
Ha Baroana Rock:
Paintings 39km east of Maseru; overhanging rock accessible after crossing a stream featuring a magnificent gallery of Bushmen paintings.
Molimo Nthuse and surrounds:
One of the most attractive tourist routes in Lesotho, the road to Molimo Nthuse includes a series of mountain passes, each offering superb vistas of mountain peaks, steep gorges, tumbling streams and broad valleys; at Molimo Nthuse you will find one of the principal pony-trekking centres of Lesotho – on offer are treks for a couple of hours or days visiting waterfalls, local villages and other scenic attractions; travellers can visit the Maletsunyane Falls on a pony-trekking trail, it’s impressive as the highest single-drop falls in southern Africa.
The centrepiece of the Highlands Water Project, the huge Katse Dam is spectacular when water levels are at their highest; the surrounding scenery is picturesque and activities cater for bird watchers and water sport enthusiasts.
Roof of Africa:
Scenic Route Via Sani Pass, the gateway to the circuit; the greater part of the route lies in the Mokhotlong District, where the top of the Drakensberg Ridge is found; includes Thabana-Ntlenyana, which at 3482m is the highest peak in southern Africa; Sani Pass, Thaba-Tseka, Katse and Hlotse form an alternative section of the route where 4x4s are most suited.
Sehlaba-Thebe National Park:
The park comprises 6500 hectares at an average elevation of 2400m and offers a wealth of birdlife and diverse Cape alpine flora; a small, minnow-like fish (Oreodaimon quathlambae) which was thought to be extinct has been rediscovered in the Tsoelikana River.