Your Guide to the Drakensberg and Natal Midlands

Tourism in Lesotho

Tourism in Lesotho is booming. Lesotho’s formidable terrain is created by the sheer walls of the Drakensberg and Maluti mountains, which give sanctuary to a unique developing nation. The friendly Basotho are one of the few mountain peoples in Africa and have developed a rich culture, often in isolated villages. The entire country of Lesotho lies 1000m above sea level and boasts Thabana-Ntlenyana, at 3482m, the highest peak in Africa south of Kilimanjaro.

Winter in Lesotho is from June to August, September to April is spring and summer with beautiful warm sunny days and occasional rain. Lesotho boasts 299 sunny days per year.

Maseru is the main centre for anything and everything you need to buy, Exchange, post or dial.It is the only place you will find banks to exchange foreign money and traveller’s cheques.

Lesotho Banks and Currency

Banks are open Monday to Friday (8.30am to 3pm) and Saturdays (8.30am to 11am).
The Maloti (1M=100 liesente) is the national unit of currency. It is fixed to the rand and should be accepted everywhere.

Telecommunications and Postal Services of Lesotho

The telephone system works well in Maseru, but don’t count on it outside of the city centre. Postal services are fast and reliable, sometimes better than in South Africa.

Lesotho Tourism Office

Lesotho Tourism office is in Maseru on Kingsway Street, next to the Hotel Victoria.
Tel: - (+266) 31 3760,
Fax: - (+266) 31 0108
E-mail:  Itbhg@org.is ) .
For bookings for the Sehlabathebe National Park, contact the Conservation Division in the Ministry Of Agriculture building on Raboshabane Road, Tel +27266 32 3600.

Lesotho gained independence from Britain in 1966 and has His Majesty King Letsie 111 as its current head of state.

Getting Around Lesotho

There are no trains to or in Lesotho, so your best bet would be by bus and private vehicle. Before setting out, seek advice from the locals or police station with regard to untarred or gravel road conditions.

Activities in Lesotho

Outdoor There are good walking trails in Maseru, along with many craft markets, but without doubt the biggest attraction in Lesotho is hiking. However, make sure before you set out that you use either a guide or compass and map, obtainable at the Department of Land, Surveys and Physical Planning on Lerotholi Road Maseru.

For birdwatching enthusiast, Lesotho is renowned for its large raptor population, including the Cape Vulture, the rare Bearded Vulture, the Steppe Buzzard and the Black Eagle.

Basotho Pony trekking is recommended, with the main centres the Basotho Trekking Centre on God Help Me Pass, and Malealea Lodge near the Gates of Paradise. Other options include Frasers Lodge in Semonkong, the Trading Post Lodge in Roma and Ha Poli Valley near Thaba-Tseka.

The Sani Pass lies on the border with South Africa and is the only viable road into Lesotho from the Kwazulu-Natal side.

You can start the arduous trek to Thabana-Ntlenyana, Southern Africa’s highest peak, on horseback. The road is suited to 4x4, but weather permitting, you could get up in a 4x2 vehicle. A friendly bar at the top will crown your sense of achievement at having scaled the dramatic pass. You’ll feel on top of the world! There are a few budget accommodation options here too.

Himeville and Underberg are the closest towns on the South African side.

Tourism in Lesotho

The tourism sector is one industry which stands to benefit from the LHWP. The tourism industry is being actively promoted by LNDC and a number of hotels, mountain lodges and a national park have been developed in recent years. It is marketed as a haven for those who enjoy back-to-nature adventures with a wide range of activities offered. The majestic beauty of its rugged mountains and the simple way of life are a major drawcard.

Tourist accommodation is being continually developed. Maseru has a number of international hotels and a variety of restaurants, while other areas offer smaller hotel and alpine lodge accommodation. For the growing backpacker demand, there are inns and youth hostels as well as traditional Basotho-thatched rondavels.

The Lesotho Tourist Board operates overland adventure tours from Maseru which take in the scenic and historical highlights as well as offering visits to craft centres, pony trekking, skiing at Oxbow and swimming in bilharzia-free mountain streams.

Pony trekking has become a popular tourist activity in Lesotho. The famous hardy and sure-footed Basotho ponies can take visitors into areas not accessible by road. The Lesotho Highlands are considered the main tourist attraction. The traditional lifestyle of the Basotho can still be seen and most of the customs are fully intact.

The development of the Katse Dam, a 45-kilometre long water feature will become a further attraction in the region offering water-based recreational facilities, bird watching and trout fishing. In the winter, short range skiing at Oxbow is a growing attraction.

The new Tourism Development and Incentives Bill provides for an improved institutional framework for tourism. The bill also ensures that there is proper tourism regulation in the country and that there is an appropriate system for the manufacture and retail of handicrafts and souvenirs in the country.

This year will also see two new programmes implemented by the Ministry of Tourism. A feasibility study on the establishment of a High Altitude Training Centre at Mohale has already started. It is expected that the Centre will offer training facilities to the various sport disciplines to all sportspeople worldwide. The second programme is the development of Ski Resorts. The Kotisephola Skiing site at Sani in the Mokhotlong district has been declared a Special Development Area for Tourism. An investor has been identified and agreement has been reached for the development of the site. Mahlasela has also been identified for the establishment of a skiing resort.

Lesotho is a Unique Tourism Experience

Popular descriptions of this rugged country, with is majestic beauty and serene simplicity, are "Mountain Kingdom" and "Kingdom in the Sky". Lesotho Offers a very different tourism experience, with the potential of the tourism sector lying in its natural beauty, rich flora and fauna, and absorbing prehistoric and cultural heritage. The appeal of this extraordinary country is rarely found in more commercialized destinations.

Mountains, valleys, and rivers provide memorable scenery for tourists. This is where Lesotho gets its crystal clear water as well as green pastures for livestock. Minerals such as diamond are found in the mountains. Indeed, Lesotho is the Kingdom in the Sky.

Mountains of Lesotho

Most tourist travel many kilometers from their countries just to come and patch in the rocks of Lesotho. They also enjoy  playing around the clean water of Lesotho' s mountains. This is one of the biggest source of income to the country.

In the Villages of Lesotho

Basotho are a nation that has solid traditions, beliefs and customs. The annual  Morija arts festival portrays at the best level the rich culture and celebrations that Lesotho is truly proud of.  If you want to be part of these celebrations you will be welcomed with smiling faces. And in the villages, you will be offered the traditional porridge -- Motoho. Come and experience a wealth of savory food, natural attractions, and reserves.

The Maluti Mountains, spurs of the Drakensberg range, extend north and south. They form a high plateau from 9,000 to 10,000 ft in height. The highest point is Thabana Ntlenyana (11,425ft) in the east. The rich volcanic soils of the foothills and mountains are some of the best in the country.

The sources of two of the principal rivers in South Africa, the Orange and the Tugela, are in these mountains. Tributaries of the Caledon River, which forms the country's western border, also rise here.

Accommodation in Lesotho

Lesotho  has a wide range of standards when it comes to places to stay - from five star hotels and first class luxury lodges, to rustic bush camps, guesthouses, backpackers and campsites. Look for hotels, motels, or country lodges or see the "Where to stay" options at each destination.

Visa and Immigration Requirements for Lesotho

Lesotho is an independent state and thus passports are needed to enter. Holders of the following passports do not require visas for Lesotho: South Africa. Zimbabwe. Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Ireland, United Kingdom. Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland. The Netherlands. Canada, Israel and Japan. Others such as Australia, New Zealand. U.S.A., Belgium and Austria do need visas. Any other passport holders should phone Immigration in Maseru on Tel: 317339 or fax 310409.

If you do need a visa,  get it in advance from a Lesotho embassy. The only one in Southern Africa is in Pretoria at 343 Pretorius St. (in the Momentum Centre), Tel (012) 3226090 Fax 3220376. To get a visa here takes 24 hours, costs R40 and you'll need one passport photo. The visa section at the embassy is open from 9 - 12, Monday to Friday. You can also send your passport in by registered mail, but will need first to have them fax or send you the requisite forms.

If you wish to extend your stay beyond the date written in your passport, this can be done at the Immigration office in Maseru. You can also try at various border posts. Note that many of the smaller border crossings are
only open between 8am and 4pm.Two border crossings are totally unmanned on the Lesotho side, those at Ongeluksnek and Sehiabathebe/Bushman's Nek. If you enter at either of these, you are required to present yourself at the nearest Immigration office (Qachas Nek or Quthing) to complete formalities.

As this information is subject to change, visitors should check the latest information with the nearest Lesotho diplomatic mission. Visitors returning to South Africa, and who require visas for South Africa, should ensure that they are in possession of a South African multiple entry.

For Further Information Contact
Lesotho - Ministry of Tourism
P.O. Box 52
Maseru 100, Lesotho
Tel: (09-266) 313034
Fax: (09-266) 310194
Telex: 4280 LO

 

 

 

 

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