Lesotho is an independent kingdom the size of Belgium, which stands like an island surrounded by South Africa. And it is not just a geographical island. Culturally too Lesotho is completely distinct from its larger neighbour. Though Western dress is now the norm in its capital, in the Lesotho’s countryside you’ll find the Basotho people still living traditional lives in simple stone and thatch huts.
Lesotho’s high altitude (the entire country lies above 1000m) and stunning mountainous landscape have earned it the moniker “Kingdom of the Sky”. And a lack of motorways and fences make this sky kingdom the perfect place to explore. You can trek, horse-ride or mountain bike in whichever direction you like – just make you get the local chief’s permission when you stop off in the villages.
Temperatures plummet at night, particularly in the highlands. Make sure you bring extra warm layers of clothing, no matter what time of year you visit. Better still, buy a patterned Basotho blanket, which provides very effective protection against the cold.
Visitors are few, and the locals are friendly, so always respond to attempts to speak to you.
The weather is at its best in spring (August to October) and autumn (February to April) but can be changeable at any time of the year. Most of Lesotho’s rain falls in its summer (November to January), turning its dirt tracks into mudslides. During winter (May-August) snow falls on the highlands and it can get extremely cold at night.
Maseru-Moshoeshoe (MSU) 18km from the city.
There are few roads but they are generally in good condition, so self-drive is an option. Car hire is available in the capital. There is a slow but inexpensive bus service. Taxis are reasonable.
Maseru has several hotels and there are well-run lodges doted throughout the country. You can camp almost anywhere providing you ask permission from the local chief first.
Restaurant food is usually meat served with chips although fish is widely available. Vegetarians will cope but get bored with canned mixed vegetables. Salads are widely available. You should try papa, the Basotho staple, at least once: made with maize meal, it resembles mashed potatoes.
South African wine is available in restaurants and is excellent value. Local and South African beer is widely available but only the brave should try joala, a traditional brew made from sorghum.
Lesotho has no malaria and few health problems. Tap water is normally safe to drink but those with sensitive stomachs should stick to purified water. It is a safe country but avoid walking the streets of Maseru at night, as there have been a few muggings.
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