1. Malealea lodge
This is a place that has been in service for many years and it has built a reputation all over the world. This enchanting lodge has options for all budgets and personalities. It consists of a beautiful bar and dining area, a cafe, a beautiful garden and ochre coloured traditional-style huts with thatched roofs.
The owner, Mick Jones, is a lovely guy who has earned everyone's respect for being a great host and an amazing person. Locals bond strongly with him in their own language and appreciate what he does for their communities. Sotho Sounds, a well known band from Lesotho live in Malealea and play regularly to the guests there. Be sure to buy their cd and get up and dance with the band whilst they play!
Lesotho is famed for its beautiful mountain ranges and high altitudes. Malealea lodge offer mountain biking, horse riding and hikes with local guides, allowing people from all over the world to come and experience what the Lesotho mountains have to offer. Considering our budget traveller status, we opted to go on a three day hiking trip to visit all the nearby waterfalls and to stay in the local villages. The guides working at Malealea are very knowledgable having lived their life in the mountains. Mothethehi, our guide for our 3 day hike, was incredibly friendly and helpful. He told us about the culture, the lifestyle and the insights into the magical Lesotho mountains and the people's traditions.
2. The Semonkong lodge
This beautiful, yet affordable place was our welcome at the end of 3 hard days of hiking through the Thaba-Putsoa Range. The lodge is situated next to the Maletsunyane river and about 1h walk to the highest single-drop waterfall in Southern Africa. Equipped with restaurant and a bar, this lodge is completely sustainable and ethically responsible. As well as having community alliances benefiting the population around it, they use sustainable resources for water and electricity.
They also offer a range of activities that include abseiling from the top of Maletsunyane waterfall, hikes and pony rides. We chose the latter one as we were extremely tired from our hike and it was the most reasonable price (30 AUD). The horses are well maintained and healthy. 2 beautiful animals took us through a few isolated villages to the waterfall. At 187 meters high, it is the largest single drop waterfall in Southern Africa, a magnificent view and a definite bucket list item for when you come to Lesotho despite the waterfall being a little dry due to the drought. Read more about the drought here.
The dorm room (which was empty when we stayed) cost 165 rand (16.5 AUD) AND with comfy beds and a log fire which is lit for you in the evening, we slept like babies.
The resident chef cooked a fantastic vegan meal for us after hearing that we could not eat anything on the menu. After a long hike (more info here) we needed a nutritious meal!
3. Drive around!
It sounds obvious, but Lesotho is a country of stunning mountain landscapes and tiny isolated villages. There are a handful of [public transport options, but they will only let you experience a small fraction of the country.
Renting a car in South Africa is about 300 Rand per day once you have added all the hidden costs (of which there are lots - see our blog on car rental in South Africa XXXX). Crossing the border into Lesotho incurs no extra costs and once across the border, you are free!
Friendly Basotho people will wave to you on every journey and your destinations will change all the time. As Lao Tzu tells us: “A good traveller has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving”.
Whilst our Nissan Micra took us to beautiful waterfalls and national parks, travellers with a bigger budget tend to hire a 4x4 as there are many shortcuts and great off road routes to hidden, undiscovered places.
If you are going to have a car, be green about it! Share the benefit of having a car and Karma will repay you. We picked up hitchhikers who are now friends who gave us a true insight into Sotho culture.
4. Sani Pass
The Sani Pass can be explored from Sani Top in Lesotho, or from the bottom of the Pass in South Africa. With international borders at either side of the pass you are given instructions before attempting to tackle this off-road route. The Lesotho border at the top will let anyone tackle it, whereas the South African border control will only allow 4x4 cars up.
We feared for the well being of our Nissan Micra and so we found a good vantage point for the beautiful pass from the bottom.
The pass is steep and winds beautifully into the Drakensbergs, but is definitely something we recommend for 4 wheel drives.
5. Ts’helyane National Park
If you turn up in the middle of the night, you can camp in your car for free (if you keep quiet!), or if you have a bigger budget you can stay at Maliba Lodge, a beautiful sustainable 5* resort in the park.
There is a great 3 hour hike to Black pools, named so because the black stone that forms them makes estimating depths very difficult. A waterfall brings cold water which flushes through the pools and if you are brave enough you can go for a swim. The hot weather and lack of people make this a great spot for an all natural experience to connect with the surroundings. No swimmers, no problems.
Lesotho is a beautiful place with beautiful people. the value of this place is in the culture and the mountainous landscapes. There are a lot of secondary activities which may not make your bucket list, but are still worthwhile if you have the time (dinosaur remains/footprints, Katse dam, and many beautiful villages).
If you have any questions or comments regarding Lesotho, or if you would like to add to the list, please comment below and share.