Country, Language, Precipitation
Lesotho, Africa, pronounced Leh – sue – two, is a small country totally surrounded by South Africa, the same as Swaziland. Lesotho people, Basotho, have their own language, Sotho, and culture, and the terrain is mountainous. Because of the mountains, a lot of precipitation falls. In fact, there is a ski resort in Lesotho. And, much of the water that falls in Lesotho supplies South Africa. During my visit in March to Sani Pass it snowed and rained! Phew– that was a bit about everything Lesotho. Wait, there’s more!
You must show your passport to enter the country, and the visa rules are similar to South Africa. As for driving a rental car, I rented one in South Africa and advised the rental car agency that I would be driving into Lesotho. There was no additional cost. For more information on how I rented a car for the month for about $500 USD, please search “rental car” in the search tool (magnifying lens) at the top of this page.
Roads + Animals: Not an Ideal Mix
The main highway from Qacha’s Nek (border crossing with South Africa) to Semonkong is paved and in very good condition, and is generally one lane in each direction. The only unpaved section was on the South African side of the border, but no problem for my little Volkswagen Golf. I stayed aware for animals on or near the road, including skinny horses, fluffy white sheep, cows with their calves, and tall, lanky dogs. Fencing is expensive, so there is none to keep the animals off the road. The drive was rather solitary, though. With very little car traffic and curvy and sometimes very steep roads, I blasted the music and rocked out. I exited the country at Maseru border crossing. At both border crossings, I paid a bit of money and showed my stiff new passport got my stamp and continued on my way. Easy peasy!
The Important Things: Transportation + Beer + Money
Apart from cars, trucks, and buses, the mode of transport is on foot, by horse, or by donkey. I especially wanted to visit Lesotho for some pony trekking. I horse trekked in Mongolia a few years ago, and it was a highlight of my life.
Sheep, goat and cow herding is the way of life in the countryside. I learned on my day-long Sani Pass Tour that boys begin herding sheep as young children. Meanwhile, girls stay in school, so are better educated. However, by the time a boy and a girl are 20 years old, the boy has been earning money for many years, so is wealthier than the girl.
I also learned that the local beer brand is Maluti, which is the same word as the local currency, with a slightly different spelling, but same pronunciation. To make things easier, the maloti (LSL) money is equal to the South African Rand (ZAR) in value (1:1). And, most places in Lesotho accept the ZAR, so no need to exchange much money. I used South African rand to pay for everything from accommodation to a grilled chicken lunch on the side of the road.
The typical home is a rondavel, which is an Afrikaans word. This round home is made of stones and the walls and floor are smooth on the inside, plastered with a brown mix of mud and dung. Once dried, this mixture has no smell. I checked!
The roof of the rondavel is made of plant material. I spent time inside a few of these buildings, and generally, it is dark with minimal, if any, windows. There is place in the center for a cooking fire. Inside the two lived-in rondavels I entered, there were a couple of twin beds against the wall, and all other bedding was on the floor and put away during the day. Here’s the Wikipedia link on rondavels.
Summary: Everything Lesotho
I think it is important to learn about a country when visiting, and I knew nearly nothing about Lesotho prior to my arrival. The day-long Sani Pass Tour arranged through my accommodation was a great introduction for me. I hope you are able to visit this pretty little country one day, but in the meantime, I am glad to have shared this with you.
For more about Lesotho or South Africa, please use the search icon at the top right of this page and enter “Lesotho” or “South Africa”.
Summary of my 5-week road trip around Lesotho and South Africa. And, for everything I’ve written on these two countries, please use the search function (magnifying lens) in the top right corner of this page for “Lesotho” or “South Africa”. Thank you!
By the way, I used the Lonely Planet South Africa + Lesotho + Swaziland guidebook for my trip. It’s on Amazon here. You may also be able to borrow it from your library for free. In the USA we now have the Overdrive app, which is amazing!