Do you know what country has the highest minimum elevation in the world? You’re thinking Nepal, right? Or China. Maybe Afghanistan, Argentina or Chile? But high in the mountains, surrounded and landlocked by the country of South Africa, is the answer. The small country of Lesotho (pronounced “Li-soo-too”) is the only country in the world with a minimum elevation above 1000 meters. With a low point of 4530 feet, most of Lesotho’s land is above 6000 feet.
We spent only 2 days in Lesotho, a country with just under 2 million people, about a quarter of whom have AIDS, and a land of 11,720 square miles, slightly smaller than the U.S. state of Maryland. Skiing, hiking, camping, dramatic views, harrowing car rides and pony treks, round huts, friendly and very poor people, donkeys and mountains: Lesotho offers a variety of excitement for the adventuresome traveler.
There is so much of the country we didn’t see, and there are so many places I wanted to go but didn’t. So for those of you who have more time and interest or whose travel plans allow a variation off the beaten track, here are the places we didn’t go. If you go, please let me know, so I can travel again to this beautiful country and live vicariously through your adventures.
- Experience traditional Besotho life at Malelea Lodge and Pony Trekking Centre, a backpackers lodge in Western Lesotho.
- Hike and bathe in river pools in Ts’ehlanyane National Park and stay at Maliba Mountain Lodge.
- Visit Semonkong Lodge and you can hike to the mighty Maletsunyane Falls, where water plummets 186 meters in one of the highest single dropping waterfalls in Africa.
- Drive the treacherous, dramatic and beautiful Sani Pass and visit the highest pub in Africa at the Sani Top Chalet.
- Hike southern Africa’s highest peak, Thabana-Ntlenyana (3482m).
- Go skiing in Lesotho at AfriSki Resort .
- Experience a rural stay in the Northern mountains of Lesotho at Mamohase Rural Stay B&B.
Trip taken August 2011.