Highlights of South Africa

Lesotho

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The small mountain kingdom of Lesotho, entirely surrounded by South Africa, may be reached from the Drakensberg by the Sani Pass with its stunning vistas. It has a distinctly African feel compared with the European influenced South Africa. Maseru, the nation’s capital is a good base for exploration if not of great interest itself. From here it is possible to reach Thaba Bosiu, the mountain stronghold of King Moshoeshoe I, the nation’s founder. Semonkong in the central highlands enjoys breathtaking scenery with many outdoor activities and a nearby dramatic waterfall. Malealea is famous for its popular lodge, originally a trading lodge set up in 1905 by a British man Mervyn Bosworth-Smith, now greatly extended to provide accommodation from camping and forest huts to twin-bedded houses. The scenery is spectacular, adding some credence to Bosworth-Smith’s brass plaque 6km before the lodge on the Gate of Paradise Pass, “Wayfarer, pause and look upon the gateway to Paradise”.

Traditional Basotho villages of circular huts are to be seen. For hiking enthusiasts it is worth visiting the Tsehlanyane National Park, the Bokong Nature Reserve and the remote Sehlabathebe National Park. Access on horse back is also popular with pony trekking lodges all over the country. Autumn (February to April) is perhaps the best time to visit because of the moderate daytime temperature and less rain. Winter (May to July) often sees snow in the highlands and sometimes at the lower altitudes too, plus very cold nights. Spring (August to October) is pleasant with the melting snow giving rise to fresh vegetation but in summer (November to January) there is often torrential rain. Nights are generally very cold, especially in the highlands.

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