The Kingdom in the Sky – Lesotho

We fix a leaky tire in Clarens, South Africa before crossing the border into Lesotho.

Close encounter with a high truck, looks like

Lesotho, like every country in Africa, suffers from appallingly bad government. It’s pretty, though.

(I often marvel how places like Canada and Australia can have politicians that range from ‘mediocre’ to ‘God-awful’ and still be nice places to live. Most places are not that lucky.)

Two aspects of Lesotho stand out: horses and blankets.

A good way to get around

Basotho blankets serve many purposes.

The blanket culture starts young.

We spend a week at the Maliba Lodge. We alternate between taking road trips and hiking in the park. (The lodge is located in Ts’ehlanyane National Park.)

One day, we visit the Katse Dam.

You can tour the inside of the dam. (But can’t take pictures, for some reason.)

There are a couple of Danish nurses on our tour of the dam. They’re volunteering at a hospital in a town up the road.

Looking down from the dam

Goats and sheep abound. Lesotho is a big producer of mohair. Or was, until the government gave sold a monopoly on the export of mohair to a single Chinese man. (Who has stopped paying the farmers.)

‘You’re working for Xi Jinping now…’

No part of Lesotho is lower than 1,000 metres above sea level.

Mafika Lisiu Pass – elevation 3,090 metres

Another day, we drive around the northeast of the country as far as the Letseng diamond mine.

The Wearin’ o’ the Green

We spot this unusual bird along the way.

Southern bald ibis

Some days, we hike the trails that criss-cross the park.

This beast appears nightly near our rondavel in Maliba. It’s a full-grown eland. And it’s huge.

On our way to Roma, we stop near Leribe to see some dinosaur footprints.

Clearing away the mud

Supposed to be 200 million years old.

Maria doesn’t believe these are really dinosaur footprints

Roma is an interesting small town. We stay at the historic Roma Trading Post. We are so charmed, we spend five days here.

Breakfast in the shade

Our little bungalow has its own garden.

Burgers on the braai

Thaba Bosiu is where the Kingdom of Lesotho got its start, under King Moshoeshoe.

Thaba Bosiu from below
From the top, we get a view of the Basotho ‘cultural village’
Maria clowns around on the edge of a cliff
Some 19th century graffiti
The remains of a stone-built dwelling
Praying mantis
The grave of King Moshoeshoe.

This is Mount Qiloane.

It’s reputed to be the inspiration for the distinctive basotho hat, or mokorotlo.

…which is also found on the license plates….

….and the national flag.

From Thaba Bosiu, we drive to the historic town of Morija.

Craft centre run by a Canadian woman

We get lost on the way back to Roma. Turns out we stumble onto a private dwelling area that belongs to the King of Lesotho.

Royal domain

Security personnel point us to the right track.

Next morning, we spend a few hours in Maseru, the pocket-sized capital city.

Not a pony in sight
A woman selling basotho hats

After departing Lesotho, we break our journey in Kroonstad, then it’s up the N1 to Johannesburg.

Speed limit 120 KMH

The smooth ribbon of the N1 is a far cry from the potholes of the Lesotho road system.

Sight or Insight of the Day

We admit it – we’re suckers for baby animals. We pass many on the roads here.

Fuzzy young colt

The mountain climate seems to make them extra-fuzzy, which amps up the cuteness factor.

Fuzzy baby donkey