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Driving across the border, I had no idea what lie ahead. As “thank you for visiting South Africa” gave way to “Welcome to Lesotho”, I realised I’d done next to no research about the country I was entering.
And I’m glad I didn’t.
Passing the welcome sign was like stepping into a whole new land – one of lush mountains, silent roads and faces popping out of round huts all around us. I didn’t know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t that.
Sometimes a photo helps you hold on to a memory, keeping it as clear in your mind as if it just happened. Lesotho was full of blissful moments that reminded me why I travel and do what I do. These Lesotho pictures are some of my favourite photos from 2018 because I remember the moments just as clearly without them. The best ones of all, though, are the ones I didn’t take because I was too wrapped up in the moment. This is Lesotho:
Africa’s best kept secret
Not only had I known very little about Lesotho before travelling there, but I didn’t even know it existed until just a few months earlier. Although I spent a significant part of 2018 travelling Africa, I’d barely scraped the surface before then.
With my Africa travels limited to Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt, I’d never even crossed the equator before my trip to Swaziland last April. Southern Africa was completely unknown to me, and I wish I’d known about it sooner.
There’s simply so much to fall in love with in Southern Africa.
With more people travelling than ever, it’s not often you visit somewhere where the local people are just as intrigued by you as you are by them. In Lesotho, I saw my own curiosity reflected right back at me in every gaze I met.
It’s also not often that you visit somewhere where nobody speaks a word of English. The complete lack of a shared tongue somehow made that connection more special, though. Like every smile had more meaning. Every gesture full of expression.
Although there’s no shortage of things to do in Lesotho, it was just wandering around and seeing local life that made it special to me. It was seeing the smiles on the children’s faces as I showed them how my camera work. It was seeing the adults’ curious apprehension as the drone took flight over their heads, and watching it quickly turn to amusement as they saw the pictures of their beautiful homeland on our screens. And it was seeing the surprise and delight of mothers and their young ones as we pulled up at the side of the road to greet them.
Travelling to new heights
Much of Lesotho’s charm comes from its hulking mountains and the inquisitive people who inhabit them, but it’s not the only side you should see. Lesotho is also home to a wealth of surprises, from festival-hosting ski resorts and the highest pub in all of Africa to watersports and mountain biking.
All of this is made possible because of Lesotho’s geography: home to the highest ‘lowest point’ in the world, you won’t drop below 1400m during your stay. At your highest, you could reach 3482m.
An infamous road
If you want to truly experience Lesotho’s heights, choose to enter or leave via the Sani Pass border. This infamous road connects the Lesotho border control at 2876m to the South African post at 1544m. That’s a 1332m climb and it’s not one for the faint-hearted.
You need a 4×4 to drive the Sani Pass and, even then, it’s a fairly treacherous drive. It must be one of the most adrenaline-pumping border crossings in the world, but it’s a great way to begin or end your trip to Lesotho.
A worthwhile adventure
It would be easy to miss Lesotho off your Southern Africa travel plans. It’s not easy to get to, even with a rental car, and it will take at least a day out of your time to explore the infinite spots to explore in South Africa. If you make time to visit Lesotho, though, I’m sure you’ll wish you’d left more time to explore.
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