The country with the world’s highest low point, as well as Africa’s highest dam, botanic garden, roads and a few other highests I have forgotten.
Sparsely populated, often snow-covered, green-brown mountains and gorges, Lesotho reminds me of America’s mid-west, which I have never actually been to.
The little known Kingdom of Lesotho is entirely encircled by South Africa.
Rugged and mountainous, at 1400m ASL, its lowest point is higher than any other country's.
Entering via the Sani Pass, this breathtaking and rugged road takes you to the highest pub in Africa.
Apparently. The pass is 4WD only, and we were turned around and sent on an all-day detour to Qacha's Nek border.
This was a blessing in disguise. The roads and mountain scenery were out of this world.
Hour after hour after views like these.
And it actually made it easier to get to what became our first destination, Maletsunyane Falls.
Also called Semongkong, the 192m drop makes it one of the world's biggest. Best seen in the wet summers, it freezes in winter.
Home to the Basotho people, the counrty is still very traditional and rural.
Towns are few and far between, especially in the south.
Roads come in 2 types, excellent, and appalling.
Having seen the falls, we spent 3 nights at Malealea, the name of both the village and the excellent lodge.
Malealea Lodge has a long history, as a trading post, station and now tourism magnet.
It's the largest employer for a long way around, supports the local schools and craft makers, and has a band and choir perform nightly.
The home-made instruments are fascinating, and the song and dance good fun.
The performers work for tips. In the quiet times, there isn't much to go around.
The lodge rents mountain bikes, but the locals rent out horses, which provides a good income.
Hikes vary from 1-2 hours to multi-day overnight treks, staying in village huts.
On the shorter treks, you can see San (bushman) rock art.
Village life. There's even a donkey pub crawl. And the food rocks!
Crossing west to east through the middle of the country involved several passes over 3000m.
The views just never stopped. Neither did the wind- at some stops it was almost impossible to stand!
The town of Lejone sits smack, bang in the middle of Lesotho.
Outside the tiny town centre, round stone huts are the norm.
While there is nought to do besides look and walk, it's quite a nice and scenic spot.
A 4WD road continues north-east, and an all-weather road east joins the A1 highway, which loops around the north.
But first, Katse Dam, Africa highest, and the Katse Botanic Gardens, also Africa's highest.
Opting for this scenice route turned a 5hr/230km drive, into a 550km/11hr overnight road trip.
Having been denied the Sani Pass, we weren't going t miss the "roof of Africa".
Our last stop, Maliba Lodge, is actually less than 40km from Lejone, if you don't mind walking.
The lodge sits inside Ts'ehlanyane National Park, and has some fancy digs, restaurant and bar.
Like many places in southern Africa, Maliba is very professionally run, from the F&B, to the hiking trails.
The longest hike was an all day affair, but we opted for some shorter treks instead.
Even though we weren't young or fit enough to do those overnight treks, we still enjoyed Lesotho for its views and hospitality.