LESOTHO TRAVEL GUIDE
Lesotho, a high-altitude, landlocked kingdom encircled by South Africa, is crisscrossed by a network of rivers and mountain ranges including the 3,482m-high peak of Thabana Ntlenyana. Known as the Kingdom in the Sky because of its lofty altitude — it has the highest lowest point of any country in the world (1400m) and is the only country to be entirely above 1000m.
The Kingdom of Lesotho was formed through the pursuit of peace, and this peaceful nature still exists in the Basotho. They are friendly and welcoming people and do not have the aggressive history some of the peoples of neighbouring countries have.
Renowned for its rare and spectacular birds, flora and landscapes, this country’s biggest revenue earner is tourism. This does not mean that Lesotho is a commercial and populated hub, like most touristy places. It is unspoilt, mostly mountainous terrain, with little villages up in the crags and crannies! Very well connected by road, it is the backpackers’ dream destination.
LESOTHO QUICK FACTS
- Capital: Maseru
- Currency: loti (LSL) / South African rand (ZAR)
- Area: 30,355 km²
- Population: 2,108 million (2018)
- Language: Sesotho (southern Sotho) (official), English (official), Zulu, Xhosa
- Religion:Christian 80%, indigenous beliefs 20%
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LESOTHO PUBLIC HOLIDAYS
- 11 March, King Moshoeshoe’s Anniversary
- 1 May, Workers’ Day
- 25 April, Africa Day/Heroes’ Day
- 17 July, King Letsie III’s Birthday
- 4 October, Independence Day
- 26 December, Boxing Day
Also, Good Friday, Easter Monday, and Ascension.
FESTIVALS IN LESOTHO
BEST TIME TO VISIT LESOTHO
Lesotho has four distinct seasons:
- Summer (December to February): This is the warmest season with temperatures ranging from 20-30°C (68-86°F). This is also the best time for outdoor activities such as hiking and trekking.
- Autumn (March to May): The temperatures start to cool down during this season, and the days are mostly sunny. This is a good time for outdoor activities, but visitors should be prepared for some rain.
- Winter (June to August): This is the coldest season with temperatures ranging from 0-15°C (32-59°F). Snowfall is common in the higher elevations, making it a great time for skiing and snow sports.
- Spring (September to November): The temperatures start to warm up during this season, and it is a good time for outdoor activities. Visitors should be prepared for some rain, as this is the wettest season.
It's worth noting that Lesotho is a mountainous country, so weather can vary significantly depending on elevation. It's always a good idea to check the forecast and be prepared for a range of temperatures.
The best time to visit Lesotho depends on your interests and what you would like to do during your visit. If you plan to go hiking and enjoy outdoor activities, the best time to visit is during the summer months of December to February, when the weather is warm and dry. If you prefer cooler temperatures, the best time to visit is during the winter months of May to August, when it can be quite chilly. It's also important to keep in mind that Lesotho is a mountainous country, so weather can vary significantly depending on elevation. In general, it's always a good idea to check the forecast and be prepared for a range of temperatures.
LESOTHO WEATHER SYNOPSIS
Lesotho has a continental temperate climate characterised by four distinct seasons. The average temperature ranges between -10°C in winter and
30°C in summer. The country receives most of its rainfall between the months of October to April, with an average of 700 mm per annum. Precipitation patterns are determined by regional and local climate controls. The lowest average annual precipitation occurs in the Senqu River Valley (450 mm) and the highest in the north-eastern mountain zone (1.300 mm).
LESOTHO TOURIST SEASONS
Most destinations have different times of the year when they’re more or less popular with tourists.
Off Peak Season
SPORT & ACTIVITIES
SNOW SPORT IN LESOTHO
Lesotho's Afriski mountain resort is located at 3222m above sea level and offers skiing and snowboarding over the months of June, July & August.
HIKING & CYCLING IN LESOTHO
You can enjoy outdoor activities in Lesotho throughout the year as the weather is fairly moderate, although always cool due to the altitude.
BEACH OPTIONS IN LESOTHO
SURFING IN LESOTHO
KITESURF IN LESOTHO
Kitesurfing spot details and weather
HEALTH RISKS IN LESOTHO
Be aware of possible health risks in
Yellow fever - The yellow fever virus is found in tropical and subtropical areas of Africa and South America. The virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no medicine to treat or cure an infection. To prevent getting sick from yellow fever, use insect repellent, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, and get vaccinated.
Zika Virus - Zika is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. Zika can be passed from a pregnant woman to her fetus. Infection during pregnancy can cause certain birth defects. There is no vaccine or medicine for Zika.
Malaria - Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans. People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness. Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.
Dengue - Dengue is spread mostly by the bite of an infected Aedes species mosquito. These mosquitoes bite during the day and night. About one in four people infected with dengue will get sick. For people who get sick with dengue, symptoms can be mild or severe.
LESOTHO TRAVEL COSTS
The cost of traveling to Lesotho can vary depending on a number of factors, such as your travel dates, the type of accommodation you choose, and your planned activities. A rough estimate for a budget trip to Lesotho would include:
- Flights: Round trip flights from Johannesburg to Maseru (the capital of Lesotho) can cost around $200 - $400 depending on the dates and airlines.
- Accommodation: Budget accommodation options such as guesthouses or hostels can cost around $20 - $50 per night. Mid-range and luxury options can cost significantly more.
- Food: Eating at local restaurants can cost around $5 - $10 per meal.
- Transportation: Buses and minibuses are available to travel around Lesotho and can cost around $5 - $10 per journey.
- Activities: Costs will depend on the activity you choose, but most activities are relatively inexpensive.
Here is a sample budget for a 7-day trip to Lesotho:
- Flights: $300
- Accommodation: $150 (staying in budget guesthouses or hostels)
- Food: $50 (eating at local restaurants)
- Transportation: $50 (using local buses and minibuses)
- Activities: $100 (including guided hikes, cultural tours, and other activities)
- Miscellaneous (souvenirs, tips, etc): $50
It's important to note that this is just a rough estimate and actual costs may vary depending on your specific travel plans. You may consider getting a packaged tour or plan your own itinerary, which can help you save money. Also, this budget does not include any international travel insurance, medical insurance or vaccination costs which you should consider adding before your trip.
LESOTHO TRAVEL TIPS
Here are some travel tips for visiting Lesotho:
- Be prepared for the weather: Lesotho has a range of temperatures depending on the season and elevation. Bring appropriate clothing and gear, especially if you plan to go hiking or visit high-altitude areas.
- Learn some basic Sesotho: Sesotho is the official language in Lesotho, and while many people speak English, it's helpful to know a few basic phrases to communicate with locals.
- Be respectful of local customs: Lesotho is a deeply cultural country and its people are very proud of their heritage. Be respectful of local customs and traditions, especially when visiting villages and rural areas.
- Bring cash: Not all places accept foreign currency or credit cards, so it's a good idea to have some local currency on hand.
- Have travel insurance: Lesotho is a developing country and it's important to have travel insurance to cover any unexpected medical or other expenses.
- Use your common sense: As with any travel, be aware of your surroundings and use your common sense to stay safe.
- Bring a power bank : Electricity is not always guaranteed in Lesotho, bring a power bank or extra batteries for your devices.
- Research your destination: Research your destination and plan ahead to make the most of your trip and stay safe.
- Be respectful of the environment: Lesotho is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes, it's important to be mindful of the environment and leave no trace of your visit.
- Be open-minded and flexible: Be open-minded and flexible to new experiences, and you'll be sure to have a great time in Lesotho!
SIGHTS & HIGHLIGHTS OF LESOTHO
Lesotho is divided into 10 districts, each with their own unique highlights and attractions. Here are some of the main regions of Lesotho and the highlights of each region:
- Maseru: The capital city of Lesotho, Maseru is the main entry point for visitors to the country. Highlights include the Basotho Cultural Village, which offers a glimpse into traditional Basotho life and culture, and the Maseru Craft Market, where you can find a variety of local crafts and souvenirs.
- Berea: Known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities, Berea is home to the Maletsunyane Falls, which at 192m is the highest single drop waterfall in Southern Africa.
- Butha-Buthe: This region is known for its natural beauty, including the Katse Dam, the second largest dam in Africa and a popular spot for trout fishing.
- Leribe: Leribe is home to the largest and most important archaeological site in Lesotho, the Liphofung Cave, which has significant rock art and historical importance.
- Mafeteng: Known for its traditional Basotho culture, Mafeteng is home to a number of traditional villages, where visitors can learn about the customs, traditions and lifestyle of the local people.
- Mohale's Hoek: This region is known for its natural beauty, including the spectacular Maluti Mountains, which offer great hiking and trekking opportunities.
- Mokhotlong: Known for its rugged mountains and alpine scenery, Mokhotlong is home to the highest point in Lesotho, the Thabana Ntlenyana, which stands at 3,482 meters.
- Qacha's Nek: This region is known for its natural beauty, including the Qacha's Nek Dam, which is a popular spot for swimming and picnicking.
- Quthing: Known for its rugged mountains and natural beauty, Quthing is home to the Maluti Mountains, which offer great hiking and trekking opportunities.
- Thaba-Tseka: This region is known for its natural beauty, including the Thaba-Tseka National Park, which offers great hiking and trekking opportunities and is home to a variety of wildlife.
It's worth noting that these are just some of the highlights of each region, and there are many other things to see and do in Lesotho. It's always a good idea to research your destination and plan ahead to make the most of your trip.
Lesotho offers a wide variety of things to see and do for visitors, here are some of the best things to see and do when visiting Lesotho:
- Hiking and trekking: Lesotho is home to some of the most beautiful landscapes in southern Africa, and there are a variety of hiking and trekking opportunities available. Some popular trails include the Maloti Drakensberg World Heritage site, which offers spectacular views of the Drakensberg Mountains, and the Sehlabathebe National Park, which offers a glimpse into traditional Basotho culture.
- Snow sports: Lesotho is home to the Afriski Mountain Resort, which offers skiing and snowboarding in the winter months.
- Cultural experiences: Lesotho is a deeply cultural country and its people are very proud of their heritage. Visitors can take a tour of a traditional village to learn about the customs, traditions, and lifestyle of the local people or visit Basotho Cultural Village, which offers a glimpse into traditional Basotho life and culture.
- Rock art and historical sites: Lesotho is home to some important archaeological sites, including the Liphofung Cave, which has significant rock art and historical importance.
- Scenic drives: Lesotho is a mountainous country, and there are a number of scenic drives that offer spectacular views of the landscapes.
- Blessing ceremonies: Visitors can attend a traditional Basotho blessing ceremony, which are held to mark important events in the lives of the local people.
- Adventure activities: Lesotho offers a variety of adventure activities such as bungee jumping, white-water rafting, and hot-air ballooning.
- Trout fishing: Lesotho is home to the Katse Dam, which is the second largest dam in Africa and a popular spot for trout fishing.
- Shopping: Visitors can find a variety of local crafts and souvenirs at the Maseru Craft Market, or at the markets in other towns and villages.
- Photography: Lesotho offers a wide variety of landscapes, from rugged mountains to traditional villages, making it a great destination for photography enthusiasts.
Keep in mind that these are just some of the best things to see and do in Lesotho, and there are many other activities that you can enjoy depending on your interests.
WHAT TO EAT IN LESOTHO
Lesotho's cuisine is heavily influenced by its agricultural heritage and its traditional diet is simple, hearty and nutritious. Here are some of the traditional foods you should try when visiting Lesotho:
- Pap: also known as "Lesotho porridge," pap is a staple food in Lesotho and is made from ground maize. It is typically served with a variety of stews or sauces, such as chakalaka (a spicy vegetable relish) or morogo (wild spinach).
- Lesotho-style chicken: a popular dish, prepared by marinating chicken in a mixture of herbs and spices, and then barbecuing or roasting it.
- Seswaa: a traditional meat dish that is typically made from beef or mutton. It's prepared by boiling the meat in a pot with salt and other seasonings, resulting in a soft, tender meat.
- Moroho: is a traditional dish made of wild spinach, it's typically served with pap or bread.
- Lesotho-style bread: a staple food that is typically made from wheat flour, yeast and water.
- Milk porridge: is a traditional dish made from a mixture of cornmeal, sugar, and milk.
- Lesotho-style curries: are a popular dish in Lesotho, and can include chicken, beef, or fish.
- Maluti Beer: a beer made from malted barley, it's the most popular local beer in Lesotho.
It's worth noting that since Lesotho is a developing country, the availability of certain food items may be limited in some areas. Also, it's a good idea to be mindful of food safety and hygiene as well.
LGBTQ IN LESOTHO
WHERE TO STAY IN LESOTHO
When visiting Lesotho for the first time, it's a good idea to stay in the capital city of Maseru, as it offers a good base for exploring the rest of the country. Maseru is the main entry point for visitors to Lesotho, and it offers a variety of accommodation options to suit different budgets, such as budget guesthouses, mid-range hotels and luxury lodges.
Here are some options for accommodation in Maseru:
- Budget: Guesthouses such as Lesotho Sun Guesthouse, Maseru Backpackers, and Maseru Guesthouse, offer budget-friendly options for travelers.
- Mid-range: Hotels such as The Lodge on Main, Maseru Sun, and The Riverfront Hotel, offer comfortable accommodation for mid-range budgets.
- Luxury: Luxury lodges such as The Roma on Main, and The Riverfront Hotel, offer high-end accommodation with all the amenities and services.
It's also worth considering to stay in one of the traditional Basotho villages, where you can experience a more authentic and traditional way of living. Some of these are equipped with basic facilities and offer a unique and cultural experience.
Keep in mind that Maseru is located on the border of South Africa, so if you are planning to visit other regions of Lesotho, it's a good idea to have a car or make use of public transportation. However, you can also plan your itinerary with a tour operator or travel agency.
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