Lesotho

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Lesotho is a small and poor country totally surrounded by South Africa. Known as the Kingdom in the Sky because of its lofty altitude — it's lowest point is the highest of any country in the world at 1,400 m and is the only whole country that could be called a "Munro" since it is entirely above 3,000 ft! Lesotho is a fantastic adventure holiday destination because of its smiling and resourceful people and bracing climate.

Population: 1,936,181 people
Area: 30,355 km2
Highest point: 3,482 m
Coastline: 0 km
Life expectancy: 52.30 years
GDP per capita: $2,200
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  • Beach Beach
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  • Green space Green space
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  • Medical Medical
  • Monument Monument
  • Museum Museum
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  • Theater Theater
  • Winery Winery

About Lesotho

History

Originally, the Sotho-Tswana people lived in what is now Free State in neighbouring South Africa. They were a farming people, and when the Zulus started attacking villages and the Dutch Voortrekkers started encroaching on their land, they fled up into the Lesotho mountains. Here, continuous attacks from the Zulus forced local tribes to join together for protection, and by 1824, King Moeshoeshoe had established himself as king and Thaba Bosiu as his mountain fortress.

In 1903, Moeshoeshoe allied himself with the British Cape Colony government in a bid to protect the Basotho from the Boers' rapidly increasing presence in the area. Much fighting followed, forcing Moeshoeshoe to go straight to the imperial government of the British, and in 1868, Basotholand (as it was then called, later to be called Basutoland) became a protectorate of the British Empire. It gained independence within the British Commonwealth on 4 Oct 1966.

Climate

Lesotho has 300 days of sunshine. The rainy season extends from October to April in which Lesotho gets 70mm of rainfall, mostly during severe thunderstorms. Extensive snow falls are possible in winter but may occur in any month on the high mountains. Night time temperatures go below freezing in winter (May — September)- and houses do not feature central heating, so bring a jacket.

Activities

  • Pony-Trekking especially at either Malealea, Semonkong, or at the Basotho Pony-Trekking Centre — whether your a seasoned pro at horse riding or a complete novice, pony-trekking is an extremely enjoyable way to see the Lesotho countryside! These organized tours give you access to parts of the country which you wouldn't see from your car. The exceptionally sure-footed Basotho Pony can take you through far-off villages and atop daunting mountains.
  • Hiking. In the Highlands. Contact the Department of Tourism, who will find you a guide, and then fly into a completely cut off village and hike your way out, staying in remote villages over night. You can also purchase 1:25,000 topographical maps for about LSL25 from the office of Lands, Surveys, and Physical Planning in downtown Maseru and do this yourself (recommended only for experienced hikers).
  • Skiing — hit the slopes at Oxbow during the winter!

Food

There are many Western style restaurants in Maseru. For a more traditional meal, why not befriend some locals and see what they cook you?!

Drinks

Maluti beer is superb.

  • Sani Top Chalet. Features the highest pub in Africa. Maluti beer: LSL15.

Shopping

There are several Western style supermarkets in Maseru, which are good for stocking up on supplies in before heading elsewhere in the country.

If you're after locally made goods and crafts, your best bet is to give Maseru a miss, and head to TY or Hlotse, where the markets are far better and cheaper. You can buy traditional Basotho hats (Mokorotlo), sticks (molamo), rugs and various other curios. In particular, the Basotho blanket is a hallmark of Basotho culture. Equally popular in South Africa, they were originally brought by the English for trading purposes but overtime became ingrained in Basotho culture and are worn as casual and formal attire. They are sold in shops and markets all over Lesotho but best prices are most likely to be found in Maseru, TY or Mafekeng.

Credit cards will be accepted in Shoprite and the main hotels, but not elsewhere. Your cashcard from home may work in some Maseru cash machines (FNB or Standard Bank) but best to get cash out in South Africa beforehand.

Restaurants outside of Maseru (and most in Maseru) will probably not accept credit card as a means of payment.

Currency

Lesotho's currency, the loti (plural maloti - consequently it is sometimes seen symbolised as "M") which has the ISO 4217 currency code of LSL, is fixed at a 1:1 ratio with the South African Rand (ZAR). South African currency is accepted everywhere — there is no need to change money. However you will get maloti in change (unless you ask), which is very difficult to unload in South Africa and pretty well impossible elsewhere.

There are ATMs at banks in most towns, although you will not find them elsewhere. Most banks will change travellers cheques for you, but it can be a very, very lengthy process if they are in any other currency apart from ZAR.

This article is based on Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 Licensed text from the article Lesotho on Wikivoyage.

Cities in Lesotho

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Maseru is the capital of and largest city in Lesotho and is very close to the north western border with South Africa. Although there isn't a huge deal to see in Maseru, it is well worth stopping here upon entry into Lesotho to stock up before venturing further in (where there are very, very few Western ... (read more)

Interesting places:

  • State House
  • Setsoto Stadium
  • Royal Palace
  • Parliament Building
  • Maseru Golf Course
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Interesting places:

  • Katse Dam
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Interesting places:

  • Mohale Dam
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Interesting places:

  • Afri-Ski
  • Liphofung Caves
  • Bokong Nature Reserve
panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners

Points of Interest in Lesotho

  • Semonkong Falls — these falls near Semonkong drop 200m in single plunge! In summer, you can swim in the pond below while in winter the pond freezes over and an ice enclosure develops around the falls.
  • Katse Dam — an impressive dam towering 185m in a narrow valley
  • Dinosaur footprints — well-preserved footprints of these terrible lizards exist around the country; the most accessible are near Moyeni & Morija
  • Rock art — found in many places throughout the country, the most impressive found within Liphofung Cave.

State House - Maseru

Katse Dam - Bokong

Afri-Ski - Butha Buthe

Maletsunyane Falls - Semonkong

Mohale Dam - Likalaneng

Setsoto Stadium - Maseru

Royal Palace - Maseru

Parliament Building - Maseru

Maseru Golf Course - Maseru

National University of Lesotho - Maseru

Liphofung Caves - Butha Buthe

panoramio Photos are copyrighted by their owners
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