Travel to Lesotho

Lesotho is a tiny landlocked kingdom approximately the size of the state of Maryland. It is completely surrounded by the country of South Africa and set in the east central part of that country. It is officially called the Kingdom of Lesotho and referred to as the "kingdom in the sky" because of its magnificent setting in the breathtaking Drakensberg Mountains and Maluti Range. Most people travel to Lesotho as a day trip or for a couple nights during a longer trip in South Africa.

One of the best aspects of Lesotho is its proud and independent people who represent the historic beginnings of the little kingdom. The kingdom was formed as a result of the early nineteenth-century forced migrations of indigenous South African people by the Boers and other European settlers. Among the people of this region, this migration is called the "difaqane" or "mfecane," meaning crushing or scattering. Other peoples call it "diaspora." There is a more recent term, the "African diaspora," which refers to the global scattering of the African people, largely through slavery. The great Basotho King Moshoeshoe led his people into the rugged Drakensberg to escape persecution and scattering during the difaqane, and they formed this unique tiny kingdom as a bastion of freedom and independence in what would soon become apartheid South Africa.

Many people travel to Lesotho specifically for its remoteness and stunning scenery. Pony trekking, hiking, and walking tours are quite popular, and there are hundreds of miles of trails to explore. If you are interested in prehistory, you will also find dinosaur trails, as this region is covered with fossilized dinosaur footprints. Crystal clear mountain rivers and streams provide superb fly fishing opportunities and bird fanciers can discover more than 300 species. Other adventure activities and things to do include paragliding, abseiling, mountain biking, and mountaineering. On the southeastern border and adjoining the Drakensberg World Heritage Site is equally spectacular Sehlabathebe National Park. In addition to the striking scenery, this region boasts the world's richest gallery of rock art with many thousands of images by the San people (also known as Bushmen).

The capital city is Maseru, located on the eastern border of the kingdom. Almost all who travel to Lesotho will do so by car and will enter the kingdom via the border crossing near here. Even though the road system is quite good, the roads are as rugged as the landscapes, and four-wheel drive vehicles are the only practical ones. If you drive here, you should carefully review the documents you need to bring with you along with your vehicle. You can fly into Maseru, but only from South Africa.

There are excellent Lesotho hotels, though few are above three-star category. Outside of Meseru, you will find modest but beautiful wilderness lodges and some guesthouses. There is a five-star wilderness property, the Maliba Mountain Lodge, with beautiful river cabins and mountain chalets. It is located in Tsehlanyanet National Park high in the Maloti Mountain Range and offers pony trekking and hiking on miles of remote trails.

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