LESOTHO the mountan nation

Semokong

Once the secret hideout of outlaws, this remote, sprawling, village still has an untamed feeling to it. Semonkong means ?Place of Smoke? and is so named because of the Maletsunyane Falls, the highest single-drop falls in southern Africa. The falls, about 5 kilometres south of Semonkong, are set in awesome surrounding cliffs with the water plummeting down a 192-metre drop. The falls can also be visited on a pony-trekking trail. There are also fantastic hiking and trout fishing opportunities in the area.

Sani Pass

Sani Pass is the only vehicle route over the Drakensberg escarpment and into the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. It is a spectacular 4x4 track twisting and snaking its way through the rocky cliffs to the top of the world. Before the 1950’s, it was a trail for pack animals to carry goods through to the isolated town of Mokhotlong in Eastern Lesotho. Now, the road carries 4x4 vehicles, though the odd donkey and horse can still be seen plodding slowly up the steep route. Crossing the border at the top of the pass, one enters not only another country (passports required), but also another world. The Basotho have a unique African mountain culture, reminiscent of Tibet! People live in traditional rondavels (huts), herd goats and sheep in the high mountains and grow crops by ox-ploughing and hand-hoeing in a lifestyle fascinating for the visitor. Come and experience the wonders of the mountains. Visit Lesotho under your own steam, or on one of our tours.

General Information on Lesotho

Lesotho covers 30,355 km?. It is the only independent state in the world that lies entirely above 1,000 m sea level. Its lowest point is 1,400 m and over 80% of the country lies above 1,800 m. Lesotho is also landlocked and is entirely contained within the country of South Africa.

Lesotho has a population of approximately 1.881 million, according to 2006 census where from 23.8% urban and 76.2% rural. Population density is lower in the highlands than in the western lowlands. Although the majority of the population — 57.6% — is between 15 and 64 years of age, Lesotho has a substantial youth population numbering around 37 percent. The annual population growth is -0.46% with a life expectation of about 36 years!

Administratively, Lesotho is divided into ten districts, each headed by a district administrator. Each district has a capital known as a camptown: Berea; Butha-Buthe; Leribe; Mafeteng; Maseru; Mohale?s Hoek; Mokhotlong; Qacha?s Nek; Quthing and Thaba-Tseka.

Transportation

In Lesotho you drive on the left-hand side. An international Drivers License is required. The traffic signs are mostly in accordance with international standards. Please note that at ?4-way-crossings? the person who stops first is allowed to drive first as well. If in doubt, making eye contact helps to agree on right of way. The wearing of seat belts is compulsory. The permissible alcohol limit is 0.5 ml/Litre. Mobile telephones may only be used while driving when fitted with a hands-free kit.
At Sani Pass you will not be allowed to drive up or down the pass without a 4x4 rental car. A 4x2 is allowed but we do not recommend a 4x2 (especially not a vehicle with a small engine capacity) in all seasons!

Climate and temperature

Due to its altitude and crisp clear mountain water (Lesotho provides drinking water for South Africa and some of the surrounding countries), there is no malaria. However you will be entering Swaziland likely from South Africa.

Malaria: international visitors do not stay in Swaziland only but rather drive through from north to south.
Malaria prophylaxis is highly recommended for visits to Mpumalanga and Limpopo (Kruger National Park) and KwaZulu/Natal (National Parks of Zululand) in South Africa as well as some of the game reserves in Swaziland itself. Suitable medication is available at local pharmacies. We recommend that you consult your doctor before departure. In addition we recommend that at dusk and down you wear clothing of light colour that covers your arms and legs and to avoid sitting outside. If possible you should sleep under a mosquito net or in a room that has been treated with insect repellent.

Bilharzia: The danger of Bilharzia is common in the northern and eastern parts of the country, generally in standing water. It is therefore not advisable to swim in unknown waters, not even touching it with hands and feet.

Sun The sun is very intense and it is advisable to protect yourself with high sunscreen lotion, sunglasses and a hat. In addition drink a lot of water to avoid dehydration.

Passports and visa

For most countries visa can be obtained at the border. To know if your nationality can obtain a visa on arrival and the cost, please check with the destination country’s embassy closest to you. Some countries such as Zambia and Zimbabwe offer visitors from certain countries the benefit of a UniVisa valid for both destinations which can be obtained only at certain point of entries. In any case the onus is upon the traveller to ensure that they have the right travel documentation and visa as required.

Language

Besides English, Xhosa, another Nguni language and official language of South Africa, is spoken by 18,000 people in Lesotho. Speakers of these minority languages typically also speak Sotho. Afrikaans, spoken mainly in South Africa and Namibia, is an immigrant language.

Currency

The currency is the Loti (ZAR) (1 L = 100 cents). There are coins to the value of 5c, 10c, 20c, 50c, L1, L2, L5 and notes to the value of L10, L20, L50, L100 and L200. Credit Cards are generally accepted everywhere. It is not unusual to also pay smaller amounts with Credit Cards. Travellers Cheques can be exchanged at most places.
Similar to the South African Rand (same currency value), the Namibian Dollar and the Lesotho Loti, all have the same value. It is perfectly possible to pay in Swaziland with the ZAR and Loti.