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Eco Travel Guide to Lesotho : Southern Africa

Lesotho Travel Guide
Travel Writer: EcoTravel Africa  

Lesotho, the Mountain Kingdom, is a small country completely surrounded by South Africa. While it is the remote mountain grandeur that attracts most visitors it is the warm and open hospitality of the rural country folk that often creates as big an impression. If you are an 'Off the beaten track' tourist then Lesotho is for you!

Photographer: EcoTravel Africa 

Lesotho has its origins in the mid 1800’s when a chief by the name of Moshoeshoe established himself on an impregnable flat topped mountain called Thaba-Bosiu near the present day capital of Maseru. From this stronghold the Basotho Nation went from strength to strength until they finally gained independence from British colonial rule in 1966 as the sovereign state of Lesotho.

The Lesotho Lowlands are where you will find the nations major towns including the capital, Maseru. This lowland strip is in fact part of the central plateau of southern Africa and the lowest point in Lesotho is above 1000 metres making it the country with the highest low point in the world!

Despite its underdeveloped infrastructure and almost insignificant tourism industry Lesotho is a must for the adventurous traveler. Today the country offers clear mountain streams, pony trekking, trout fishing, remote mountain valleys and hiking in a country with no fences.

Apart from the superior hotels with casinos, hotel accommodation in Lesotho is not of a very high standard. The major hotels are geared towards South African tourists and tend to be overpriced. Your best option is a private country lodge or guesthouse, where accommodation is generally of a high standard and more affordable.

It is safe to pitch a tent on any spot, though you should always seek the permission of locals first. You may be offered a tribal hut, for which you should offer to pay about M15.

Lesotho has no rail passenger services. There is a good network of buses connecting most towns, but they are often very slow. Minibus taxis are quicker, running shorter routes. In remote areas it is possible to catch a lift with a truck and is quite safe to do so. You will be expected to contribute a fare. Residents walk everywhere, while those lucky enough to own a horse, ride them. People think nothing of walking miles to go to school or from one village to another carrying their belongings on their head or supplies on the back of a donkey.

The national airline flies between the international airport, Moshoeshoe (MSU), north of Maseru, and Johannesburg, South Africa. Note that a tax of M20 is payable on departure. Lesotho has 29 runways, of which only four are paved. Fares for internal flights tend to be expensive.

There are over 5 000km of roads in Lesotho, of which 887km are tarred. Roads are constantly being upgraded, but off the main roads the terrain is often difficult and only accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles, such as the Sani Pass. Some parts of the country, particularly the interior, have very few roads and are accessible by foot or pony only. Your home driving license, with translation if necessary, is acceptable.

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