A guide that will help you plan an unforgettable trip to the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho.
Back in the day, before we started our full time traveling journey, Lesotho was one of our most favorite places to escape to for a weekend or even longer. It’s a place where you can reset and become one with nature, returning as a refreshed person, energized and ready for the challenges of city life. It’s the fresh air, unexpected waterfalls around every corner, breathtaking majestic mountains with the sounds of bells ringing in your ears. The sounds reminding you of the simplistic daily living, young herd boys running up and down the mountains, keeping a wakeful eye over the roaming mountain goats.
It’s no surprise that as soon as we arrived back in South Africa after 2 years in Asia, we were longing for the tranquility of this magical mountain kingdom, the small country South Africa holds in its cupped hands.
Enchanted by her breathtaking beauty one is completely ignorant of the lurking ice-cold weather that awaits. Be prepared to say goodbye to the sunny rays at any time of day as the sudden coldness drowns you in a blanket of clouds.
❗Therefore, it is of utmost importance to never go unprepared when visiting this country.
Let’s first share some interesting facts about Lesotho before moving on to the travel checklist.
- Lesotho is just over 30,000 km2 (11,583 sq mi) in size and has a population of around 2 million.
- With an average altitude of 2,161 m / 7,090 ft it is the highest country on the African continent and the 6th highest country in the world. Therefore often called “The Roof of Africa”.
- It is the only independent state in the world that lies entirely above 1,000 m (3,281 ft) in elevation.
- Lesotho has the highest lowest point of any country in the world with the lowest point being 1,400 m / 4,593 ft.
- Encircled by South Africa, Lesotho has only one neighbor.
- Two-thirds of Lesotho consists of mountains.
- Katse dam is the highest dam in Africa with an elevation of 1,993 m / 6,539 ft with the second highest dam wall in Africa at 185 m / 607 ft.
- Highest Pub in Africa – also the name of this tourist attraction – situated at the top of the Sani Pass with an altitude of 2,873 meters above sea level.
- Maletsunyane Falls – the highest single drop waterfall in Southern Africa measuring 192m / 630 ft high.
Our Favorite Spots in Lesotho
📍 Sani Pass
Not for the faint-hearted! One of the most scenic but also extremely challenging passes. The Sani Pass originates in Underberg, South Africa and leads up the mountain to the Lesotho border post. This pass should not be attempted without a 4×4 vehicle. Even though authorities on the Lesotho side won’t prevent you from going down the pass in a normal vehicle, you will surely not be able to attempt this daring pass going up. It will take about three to four hours to complete with an altitude gain of 1332 meters bringing you to an altitude of 2876m. Be prepared for plenty of challenging hairpin twists and turns among steep cliffs. The weather conditions are unpredictable and a sunny day can turn into foggy and wet conditions within just a few minutes. Keep that camera charged as you won’t be able to put it down. Every twist and turn paints a new picture.
Don’t have a 4×4? Don’t worry! Book your guided 4×4 Sani Pass Day Tour here!
🛌 Accommodation :
📍 Highest Pub In Africa
The name says it all! At 2874m above sea level, you are spoiled with views stretching as far as the eye can see. The perfect spot to enjoy a Maluti Beer or a steaming cup of spicy Glühwein. This pub is right at the top of the Sani Pass as you enter the Lesotho border post.
🛌 Accommodation :
📍 Maletsunyane Waterfall
Spectacular!! There is no word that can describe the beauty of the highest single-drop waterfall in Southern Africa. Need more motivation? Get a glimpse here. No video or photo can do this waterfall any justice, it is just something you need to see in person!
🛌 Accommodation :
📍 Sehlabathebe National Park
Hikers Paradise!! The oldest nature reserve in Lesotho right on the border of South Africa. You can enter through Ramatselitso’s Gate border post in the southern part of Lesotho. This is a very easy and scenic trail with the most amazing rock formations, viewpoints, and just lush greenery. Don’t forget the camera! Remember to pack some water and snacks. We had a picnic on one of the rock formations with a view to die for!! Watch the video here. You can either stay at the campsite or in the newly built lodge.
🛌 Accommodation :
- Sehlabathebe National Park – Send a Whatsapp to 0026663026594 to make a booking. We just arrived without a booking.
📍 Katse Dam
The Katse Dam is part of the Lesotho Highlands Water project whereby the dam supplements the water supply to South Africa. The dam’s high elevation allows water to be delivered to South Africa due to gravity and in return, it supplies hydroelectric power for Lesotho. The dam wall is quite impressive to see and we would definitely recommend visiting this landmark. Book a tour here.
🛌 Accommodation :
For the adventurists! This is a place not to be missed. From early June until late August this is the place to do some skiing and snowboarding in the Lesotho highlands. Operating very much like an European ski village you will be able to rent equipment and take lessons. They also cater for the little ones. For the not so adventurous, you can grab the opportunity to enjoy a hearty lunch at the highest restaurant in Africa. At 3010m the Sky Restaurant sure lives up to its name.
🛌 Accommodation :
Traveling in Lesotho
- For the ultimate experience, we recommend staying over in Lesotho and doing a 2-3 day self-drive trip. It is also possible to do a day trip to a specific attraction as most points of interest are easily within reach from the South African border posts.
- Be sure to check the office hours of the border posts that you want to enter and exit to prevent from arriving at closed doors…or should I rather say a closed gate.❗It is very important to tell the immigration officer on duty the number of days that you intend to spend in Lesotho – add an extra day or two for the unforeseen. If you neglect to tell them the intended days in Lesotho, you would be automatically granted ONE day … this has happened to us and overwhelmed by excitement to enter this beautiful country, we did not check our passports. We had such a difficult time to explain this to the authorities upon our departure. We were very lucky to get away for overstaying by 2 days without getting a fine. Always check your passport and make sure that the date stamp is correct and that your passport has indeed been stamped.
- Most of the roads are gravel roads, so don’t be taken by surprise when the tarred road all of a sudden changes into gravel. Be rest assured that you will be spoiled with the most picturesque scenes. Google Maps are not reliable, in fact, no other maps have every given us accurate ETA’s – if the map predicts one hour driving time, be sure to double it. Traveling time is always longer than anticipated. Therefore, don’t rush your trip. Travel short distances between destinations and enjoy the beautiful scenery!
- Accommodation is few and far between so plan your trip and do some research on places to stay, especially if it is your first time in Lesotho. We never have any internet/data when we go to Lesotho as reception in the mountains is minimal to zero. It would be a great idea to download offline maps. We use Maps.Me (remember to download the Lesotho maps on this app) or the Tracks4Africa App.
- Always travel with enough drinking water and food supplies for your trip. You can find grocery stores in the big towns – which you really want to avoid. These shops supply only the bare basics.
- Ensure that you have enough fuel for your trip. We have had a very stressful experience where we had to drive 100km’s to find fuel as all 3 fuel stations on our route didn’t have any fuel. This is really a situation that you want to avoid.
- Always travel with a tyre repair kit and portable air compressor in case you should get stuck with a flat tyre. Your only help might me a curious herd boy coming to investigate.
- We also always travel with a pressure gauge to make sure the tyres are at the ideal pressure. When the road gets too rocky or bumpy we always deflate the tires for a smoother ride. Our recommended tyre pressure for traveling on challenging dirt roads is 1.6 bar.
- ❗Most important!! Don’t rush to your next destination. Make the trip a journey, stop frequently, admire the scenery, have a picnic along the road, take hundreds of photos and just enjoy it!
Lesotho is a country that is yet to be discovered by many. It’s definitely a place that I would add to anyone’s bucket list. I hope that this blog has given you some inspiration to go and explore Lesotho and if you do, please give us some feedback on your experience. We would love to hear from you!!
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