Photo Credit: Leo Moko
5 Things You Need To Know Before Traveling To Lesotho
Officially known as the Kingdom of Lesotho, this Southern African country is actually a country-within-a-country. Lesotho is one of three such independent states — with the other two being San Marino and Vatican City — in the world. It’s entirely surrounded by South Africa, and was originally known as the British Crown Colony of Basutoland.
The country gained its independence on October 4, 1966. For purposes of reference, South Africa itself didn’t become a republic until 1961, apartheid wasn’t repealed until 1991, and its current form of governance has only been in existence since 1997. So, Lesotho has actually been “around” (in a manner of speaking) longer than South Africa, as we know it, actually has.
While it’s rare for anyone to schedule a trip to Lesotho independently of a trip to South Africa, it does happen from time to time. There is no shortage of companies that especially cater to European travelers that offer such options. From hiking to horseback riding, there’s plenty of things to do — and best of all, it’s reasonably affordable for budget-conscious travelers.
But whether you’re traveling there as part of a larger South African trip, or just going there independently of a larger excursion, there are five things you need to know before you go.
Don’t worry — it’s nothing too major!
As of this writing, you can't go
As of this writing, there are restrictions on traveling to Lesotho from the United States due to COVID-19. The U.S. Department of State says that Lesotho is on a Level 4 restriction. It’s unclear whether that will change in the near future.
Driving isn't recommended
Before Lesotho gained its independence, the only major roadway was the one from the royal palace to the airport (it was known as the Kingsway). While the country’s roadway has expanded extensively over the past 10 years, Lesotho still has one of the smallest paved roadway systems in the world.
As a result, traffic is plentiful — as are accidents, and yes, even motor vehicle deaths. There are a myriad of other ways of getting around that don’t involve renting a car — consider them.
Food is plentiful — and unique
Enjoying the cuisine of Lesotho — and, specifically, the Basotho people —may be a bit of a surprise for most, specifically because the names they use for some of their dishes borrow from the American lexicon.
For example, there’s the Basotho burger, which is made with chicken meat, curry powder, salt, pepper, peanut oil, and cayenne pepper. Instead of getting French fries with your meal, you’ll get pap pap (corn, garlic, ghee, salt, cornmeal) and a mixture of vegetables like kale, onions, and peas.
If you can get past the different names, you’ll have a unique culinary experience.
It's generally safe — but don't travel solo
There’s no shortage of media outlets that will tell you how dangerous Lesotho is. But the reality is, it’s no more or less dangerous than anywhere else in the world.
That said, use your common sense — solo travel isn’t recommended, as pick-pocketers tend to target those who travel alone. Always travel in groups — preferably mixed, if possible.
Maletsunyane Falls is a must-visit
Of all the sites to see in Lesotho, Maletsunyane Falls is the absolute must-see. Located near the town of Semonkong, on the Maletsunyane river, these falls are more than 192 meters tall.
Heading there will present you with a wide variety of picture opportunities, as well as things to do (bring your hiking boots!) and other sightseeing excursions.