Destination: Lesotho

Kingdom of the Sky

This is the land of the “blanket people”, who ride their sturdy ponies, build picturesque houses and greet visitors with a dignified salute.

Lesotho, the only country in the world that lies entirely above 1000m, is a tiny mountain kingdom surrounded by South Africa and is roughly the same size as Belgium, covering 30 355 sq km’s.

Lesotho is dominated by the rugged mountains of the Maluti mountain range and is famous for its pony trekking and hiking trails, the best ways to explore its scenic mountains. It is also known for its friendly people and their distinct Basotho culture.

Lesotho, known as the Mountain Kingdom or Kingdom in the Sky, holds a wealth of different experiences in store for those who visit there. Mountains, valleys and rivers present unforgettable panoramas for tourists.

In the mountains is the source of Lesotho’s crystal-clear water, which also waters the green pastures for livestock. Diamonds are amongst the minerals found in the mountains. Indeed, Lesotho can truly be called the Kingdom in the Sky. Tucked away in the heart of South Africa sits the Kingdom of Lesotho, known to locals as the Kingdom of the Sky and to travelers as the Switzerland of Africa.

As the nicknames suggest, Lesotho is mostly made up of the rolling highlands and dramatic, rugged peaks of the Maluti Mountains, the tallest of which stands at a shade under 3,500m (11,482ft) above sea level.

The high altitude and mountainous geography lend a spectacularly scenic backdrop to the numerous outdoor activities on offer, including pony trekking, rock climbing, fishing, abseiling, hiking, bird watching, mountain biking and even skiing on the snow-covered slopes below the Mahlasela Pass. The existence of valuable mineral and water resources led developers to build roads through some areas of Lesotho, but much of the kingdom and its villages remain remote and can only be reached on foot, by horseback or by light aircraft.

But Lesotho’s remoteness is a large part of its appeal, and this also helps preserve the rich traditional culture of the Basotho people, which you can experience at a number of cultural villages dotted across the kingdom. Lesotho also boasts some prominent examples of ancient rock paintings made by the nomadic San people that once inhabited this area.

But while Lesotho might not be able to boast the wealth and infrastructure of its much larger neighbor, when it comes to raw adventure and natural beauty it can certainly hold its own.

Sani Pass

Sani Pass was originally a pack-animals trail and was only opened to traffic in 1955 and is the only access from Kwazulu Natal to the Lesotho Highlands, the domain of the endangered Bearded Vulture, Basotho shepherds and their animals.

This steep zigzagging pass climbs the face of the Drakensberg escarpment to an altitude of 2874m. It’s generally not a difficult drive in any modern 4×4 vehicle and is a wonderfully scenic drive, if the weather plays its part, most of our safaris make use of this, the  most spectacular mountain pass in South Africa. It’s one of the famous hair pinned roads in the world.

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Key things to see and do in Lesotho

Tse'hlanyane National Park

Over 5600 hectares of extremely rugged mountains terrain is protected within this park, which includes one of the very few indigenous woodlands in Lesotho. The reserve also encompasses a reasonable proportion of mountain fynbos with a high degree of endemism.

Sani Pass

Sani Pass is the mother of all South African mountain passes. Statistically and in every sense, it out distances, out climbs, and out performs all its competitors with consummate ease to have become the most iconic gravel pass in SA.

Katse Dam

The Katse Dam, built high in the Maluti Mountains and named after a revered man who once lived at the site, is at the heart of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.

 

Pictures from previous safaris in Lesotho

 

 

Be inspired by our Trip Dossier/s below (PDF format ).

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