Photo Credit: Photo courtesy of @kelseydashmarie, @lebolukewarm
A Full Guide To Exploring Lesotho, The Most Underrated Country In Southern Africa
Lesotho (pronounced ‘leh-soo-too’), known as the Kingdom of the Sky, is located in southern Africa and is one of the most slept on countries on the continent. I visited for the first time last weekend and was left completely in awe. Only a 4.5-hour drive from Johannesburg, Lesotho is lush and made up of highlands making it the perfect location for a relaxing getaway.
If you’re visiting South Africa, it’s super easy to travel to Lesotho, visiting two countries during your vacation.
While driving through Lesotho, we saw native Basotho people walking through their villages peacefully. There were also Basotho shepherds with their flocks of sheep, cows, and goat. It was amazing to see people living so harmoniously while surrounded by the most breathtaking scenery. Not to mention, the air was super fresh and it’s allowed us a nice break from city life.
What’s interesting is although Lesotho is an independent nation, it is surrounded by South Africa. That’s right, Lesotho is a country located within a country and it is one of the smallest countries on the continent.
Visiting Lesotho is perfect for a weekend but staying for 5 days to a week is worth it.
Here’s what you need to know when traveling to the Kingdom of Lesotho.
How To Get There
Traveling to Lesotho as a U.S. citizen is quite easy because you can enter visa-free and stay for up to a month.
The only international airport in the country is located in the capital city of Maseru. You can fly from Johannesburg to Maseru for about $100 each way. Flying takes about 55 minutes in comparison to the 4.5/5 hour drive.
There is also a bus that travels from Johannesburg to the Maseru border but it departs around 7 a.m. and there is usually only one bus running per day.
Ideal Time Of Year To Travel
If you travel from June to September, be prepared for cold weather and less lush vegetation.
Since January is summer in Lesotho, it’s quite warm but not uncomfortably so. Warm months are usually from October to February.
Where To Stay
AVANI Hotel & Casino
When in the capital city, you must stay at AVANI Hotel & Casino. The hotel is beautifully designed with traveler’s needs in mind. The upscale property is located in the heart of Maseru and is in close distance to the Pioneer Shopping Mall.
I stayed here during my time in Maseru and was impressed with the size of my room and the hotel offerings such as a gym, sauna, spa, and casino. There’s also a pool, pool bar, and area to work remotely with fast WiFi.
The property also has a restaurant and dining area where you can have buffet-style breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a mix of traditional meaty dishes like beef stew to veggie options for the plant-based eater.
You can’t visit Lesotho without staying at Maliba Lodge. This hotel is the first and only five-star hotel in the country and is the ideal place to catch once-in-a-lifetime type views. Located in Tsehlanyane National Park, this property merges luxury while being nestled between mountains.
Driving to the property consists of traveling through winding roads, offering a scenic route to and an aesthetic eyeful of an accommodation.
The architecture and design pay homage to Lesotho culture with traditional homes that guests stay in.
Be prepared to spend less time on your phone and more time in nature because the WiFi at this accommodation is rather slow.
The food is really delicious and consists of a 3-course meal with all very tasty and well-portioned courses. Breakfast can be had with a breathtaking view. There is a continental breakfast and hot breakfast menu.
These two properties are located about 3 hours away from each other and both are the cream of the crop when it comes to accommodations in Lesotho.
Let’s Talk Money
Although the currency used here is the Lesotho Loti, the South African Rand is accepted almost everywhere. So if you’re traveling to South Africa first with plans to visit Lesotho, it’s best to just use Rands instead of having to exchange cash.
When venturing outside of Maseru, international cards aren’t normally accepted, so it’s wise to always have cash to spend.
This country is fairly inexpensive when it comes to traveling and especially in comparison to South Africa. You can find meals for less than $10 almost everywhere. Formal restaurants aren’t really common throughout Lesotho, so expect to eat at local food spots and diners.
Things To Do
When in the capital city, you should definitely hit up Sesoto Design Gallery to find handwoven items to purchase — they even have a weaving workshop!
The Lesotho Mountain Craft Gallery is another great place to find quality souvenirs.
The Lesotho National Museum will give you an inside look at the history of the country through its sculptures and relics.
When staying at Maliba Lodge, you can organize with staff a tour of the cultural villages. Visiting the villages will give you a personal look at how local Basotho people live, how they congregate and a look into their culture. You may also get to meet a traditional healer, known as a sangoma.
T’sehlanyane National Park is a great place to wander and you can even go on a pony trek with Basotho ponies.
A visit to Lesotho is a great way to see first-hand how vast Africa is. You’ll be in awe of how naturally beautiful the country is and best of all, you’ll get to take a deep breath of fresh air and feel renewed.