This 2020, explore the underrated nation of Lesotho – a hidden gem surrounded entirely by South Africa. With stunning waterfalls, sweeping grass plains, and innumerable grazing sheep dotted around the small country, here are the places you should be visiting at this African beauty. By Bayar Jain
There are few countries in the world that can boast of being landlocked by a single nation yet continue to bask in a unique culture of their own. Lesotho, surrounded entirely by South Africa, is one such nation. Beautiful, culturally distinct, and an undisputed jewel in the crown of the African continent, this alpine country is off-the-beaten-track paradise. Here, sweeping grasslands are dotted with grazing sheep, and waterfalls echo amid great mountains. The altitudinous topography of the country contrasts with the humble nature of the locals donning multicoloured attires trotting along on horses. Here are some of our picks to visit while at this charming pastoral nation.
1. Ts’ehlanyane National Park
Lovers of hiking and horse riding should take note of this indigenous forest. Perched at an altitude of 2,000 m to 3,000 m, the Ts’ehlanyane National Park is surrounded by the rock-ribbed peaks of the Maluti Mountains and endemic berg bamboo groves for shelter. Hiking up the many trails here is the best way to soak in the grandeur of the park, wherein the wilderness of the chi trees, and mountain animals provide apt company.
2. Maletsunyane Falls
When a waterfall features in the Guinness Book of World Records, you can expect something stunning at the other end. The Maletsunyane Falls, a 192-metre waterfall, is the longest single-drop commercial abseil in the world. Located near the town of Semonkong, the water plummets into a gorge creating a surreal mist like no other. If you’re brave enough, you can tackle this abseil by rappelling down the thunderous streams and taking pit stops to marvel at the plant life emerging between the rocks.
If you’re looking to unravel the mysteries and histories of the Basotho culture, then Morija is the place to be. This town houses the Morija Museum and Archives, which contains relics detailing episodes of Gun wars, the Boer War, and English colonialism. The epitome of time travel, however, reflects in the dinosaur footprints that cover a rock face at the nearby Makhoarane Mountain. That’s not all though! The town also hosts annual arts and culture event during which traditional dances, live music and performances come alive on the streets.
Translating to Place of Quick Sands, Teyateyaneng (or simply TY) is the craft centre of Lesotho. This highway town is known for its earthy local craft markets, which boom with wood carvings and traditional costumes throughout the week. An array of weaving galleries and occasional mountain taverns add another element to enjoy.
5. Ha Kome Cave Houses
The Ha Kome Cave Houses are extraordinary, to say the least. Nestled under an overhanging rock, these inhabited mud dwellings are hidden with pink and orange cliffs. It is said that the people living within these houses today are the descendants of the first residents of the cave, i.e the architects of these 19th-century caves itself. Today, upon arrival, a guide walks you through the carved-out caves. Alternatively, a small information centre equipped with basic maps could also help explore the space better.