Lesotho – Kingdom in the Sky, pt. 1

The first trip I did to a different country while I lived in South Africa was to Lesotho… which is technically still in South Africa, but oh so different.

Lesotho is a small, landlocked country which only borders with South Africa. It is one of the highest countries in the world and therefore called “Kingdom in the Sky”. As it is situated within South Africa, I wasn’t sure how different it was really going to be. But I’ll have to say that I was absolutely amazed by Lesotho and that is still one of my favourite places I have ever travelled to.

On our first day, we just travelled to Malealea. We flew from Cape Town into Bloemfontein, hired a car and crossed the border to Lesotho in Maseru, which is its capital. This was the first time I had ever crossed a border (well, one that required me getting my passport stamped) by anything else than a plane, so that was a new experience and I got confused at first by where I had to go and what I had to do.

The traffic in Maseru was an absolute mess with a ton of cars everywhere, animals, and so much honking. We were glad to eventually leave it all behind us and head to the quieter roads. The main roads in Lesotho were surprisingly new and it only got tricky once we headed to our lodges for the night.

What we saw on our way to our accommodation was all kinds of incredible already. The landscape was very hilly and green and there were horses and donkeys around every corner. Not a lot of people seemed to own cars but instead use horses to get places. Most people in Lesotho are farmers apparently, but we saw no machines anywhere. Only ever horses that they used as a help to plough the fields.

Another thing we noticed was their clothing. Sure, they wore their traditional clothing in the pictures we saw online before going there, but we had no idea they would almost all dress this way all the time. It was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever seen.

We made it to Malealea in the evening, and we saw the moon rise over Gates of Paradise shortly before. It doesn’t even look half as nice in the picture as it did in reality (as always).

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Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time in Malealea and only really spent the night there, as we were headed towards Semonkong the next morning. However, spending hours in the car driving around is not even boring when you’re in Lesotho, because there is just so much to look at. The landscapes, the people, the animals. It was all so beautiful.

We were going to stay in Semonkong for the major part of our trip. We slept in a dorm in a stone house on top of the hill. This is the view out of our window onto the kitchen.

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As soon as we got to Semonkong, we decided to take part in one of the lodge’s many activities, so we immediately did the donkey pub crawl. It probably sounds just as ridiculous as it was. At the lodge, everyone gets their own donkey and there’s two guides joining you as you ride up to the village and have a drink at each of their three pubs.  We bought our guides some drinks as well, learnt basic Basotho from them, danced along to their favourite music and watched them play pool.

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This was at our third and last bar, on what I’d call the main road / high street of Semonkong. It was their biggest one, with the loudest music and the most people.

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On our way back, it started raining, so they made the donkeys go as fast as possible – which honestly was not that funny as I thought I would fall off any minute. The beer sadly didn’t make me fearless.

The following day was the one I’d been looking forward to the most. We hiked to Maletsunyane Falls. I had seen so many pictures of it and honestly couldn’t wait to see it for myself.

The hike there was already incredible. These are exactly the kind of green landscapes filled with horses that I described earlier.

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We walked through a village, in which school children were celebrating their final day before the summer holidays, and got to meet some other locals and their horses.

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And then came the falls. As you can see, they were pretty dry, but nevertheless so beautiful. We sat in the exact spot where this photo was taken for as long as we could, just staring at the waterfall. How lucky are we to be able to go to places like these that are so amazing and yet not crowded with hundreds of other tourists?

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Sadly, we eventually had to make our way back to the lodge to make ourselves lunch, as we still had some activities planned for the afternoon. My one other friend and I went back to the village to go to a lady’s house who explained us everything we wanted to know about Basotho blankets. I will not bore you with the details but still encourage you to look it up if you’re interested in it – it is truly fascinating and such a big part of their culture. My friend and I both bought one as a Christmas present for our families, and this is a picture of her wearing it back at the lodge.

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In the evening, we lit a fire in our room as it got a bit chilly, and made the most out of it until it was time for bed. We had another very long day of driving ahead of us.

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