Experience heaven on earth as you visit Lesotho. It is popularly known to be the Kingdom in the Sky because of its very high altitude, reaching heavens you could say. As this country is part of Southern Africa, the whole area is surrounded with tourist destinations you should not miss. If you decided to take a walk in the Bokong Nature Reserve, you could actually experience a hike in the paradise. Diverse species you could find, making your journey exciting and fun. You could also try the pony-trekking as there are many sites that offer this fun adventure. Do not forget to try the best skiing experience in Oxbow or take a look on some dinosaur footprints in the Morija Museum.
Important and Interesting Facts About Lesotho
- Lesotho is the southernmost landlocked country in the world, being completely surrounded by South Africa. It is a mountainous kingdom that is home to the hospitable Basotho people.
- In 2006, Lesotho celebrated 40 years of independence with a new flag and it bears an unusual symbol – a Black ‘makorotlo’ or Basotho hat – representing the Basotho, the indigenous people of the country.
- Lesotho’s main mineral source is diamonds. The Letseng Diamond Mine in the Maloti Mountains in the far northeast of Lesotho is the world’s highest mine at 3,100 meters. Although it does not produce a great number of stones, it is famous for its quality, and particularly for producing relatively huge stones.
- The Orange River, South Africa’s longest river, rises in the Drakensberg Mountains of Lesotho before traveling west through South Africa to drain into the Atlantic Ocean. The river is a major source of hydroelectric power in both Lesotho and South Africa.
- Known as the kingdom in the sky, Lesotho is the only independent nation in the world that is entirely over 1,000 meters above sea level. Indeed, the lowest point in Lesotho is at 1,400 meters (4,593 feet), which is the highest low point of any country.
- Pony-Trekking– The sure-footed Basotho pony is the perfect vehicle to get around the beautiful Lesotho highlands, since roads between villages are scarce. You can opt for a few hours of trail riding or multi- day treks. Given their gentle nature, Basotho ponies are perfect for a novice rider.
- The Maletsunyane Falls (or Semonkong Falls)— the highest single drop waterfall in Africa ends in a gorgeous swimming hole. In the winter the spray freezes creating an ice dome – spectacular to say the least. It is the highest waterfall in Southern Africa. The village of Semonkong, which means ‘the place of smoke’, is named after the mist.
- Ts’ehlanyane National Park– hiking trails, rock pools, alpine forests and clear rivers make this national park a wonderful destination for nature lovers. Treat yourself to a few nights at the Maliba Mountain Lodge.
- Sehlabethebe National Park– The oldest national park in Lesotho, Sehlabathebe is characterized by its remote, rugged beauty. You’ll need a 4×4 to get here, but if peace and solitude is what you enjoy, don’t hesitate to visit. Hiking and pony-trekking is the best way to experience the park.
- Within Lesotho lies the tallest mountain in Southern Africa, it is called Thabana Ntlenyana (“Beautiful Little Mountain”) and forms part of the Drakensberg Mountain range.
- The Afri-Ski Resort in the Maluti Mountains attracts winter sports enthusiasts from Johannesburg.
- At the top of the Sani Pass is the Sani Top Lodge, where you’ll find the Highest Pub in Africa at 2874m (9429’). It’s also a good place to relax after the long climb.
Cool, Funny, and Fun Facts About Lesotho
- The Lesotho promise is a 603-carat white diamond (the largest find of the 21st Century at the time), the Lesotho Brown, a 601-carat stone found in 1967, the Letseng Legacy, a 493-carat stone found in 2007 that sold for more than $10 million.
- Lesotho has the highest concentration of dinosaur footprints in the world. You may view them at Morija, Leribe, and Quiteng.
- The Drakensberg Frog, Drakensberg River Frog, or Sani Pass Frog is a species of frog found in Lesotho and possibly South Africa. Its natural habitats are temperate grassland, rivers, and pastureland. It is threatened by habitat loss.
- The Lesotho Meadow Katydid (Conocephalus basutoanus) appears to be the only katydid that is endemic to the highlands of Lesotho.
- Spiral aloe is a species in the genus Aloe that is endemic to the Kingdom of Lesotho in the Drakensberg Mountains. It is well known for its strikingly symmetrical, five-pointed spiral growth habit.
- The Maluti redfin is a ray-finned fish species in colloquially called Maluti minnow, but it is not a true minnow. It is endemic to Lesotho.
- Thamnocalamus tessellates is a species of bamboo and endemic to the high mountains of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland, lying along the south-eastern part of the country. It is found in the Amatola Mountains, the Bamboesberg, which is named after it, and the Drakensberg. Its generic name means “bushy reed”, while the specific name means “tiled”, an allusion to the rectangular pattern of veins on the leaves. Its common names include Bergbamboes, Wildebamboes and Mountain Bamboo.
- The grey rhebok or grey rhebuck , locally known as the Vaal rhebok or Vaalribbok in Afrikaans, is a species of antelope endemic to South Africa, Lesotho, and neighboring countries. The specific name “caprelus” is Latin for ‘little goat’. The grey rhebok is a medium-sized antelope with a long neck, narrow ears, and straight, sharp horns on the male. Only the males carry the straight horns that are ringed at the base. The coat is short and dense and colored in various shades of grey.
- Loewenstein’s Blue is a species of butterfly endemic to South Africa and Lesotho. It is mainly found in Lesotho and on the high slopes above Dulcie’s Nek in the East Cape. The wingspan is 32-35 mm for males and 32-33 for females.
- The Karoo prinia or spotted prinia (Prinia maculosa) is a small passerine bird. This prinia is a southern African endemic resident breeder in Namibia, South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. The Karoo prinia is 13–15 cm long, with short rounded wings, a longish tail, strong legs and a short straight black bill. The head has a whitish eyebrow and the upperparts are otherwise brown.
Historical and Cultural Facts About Lesotho
- Dinosaurs called Lesothosaurus of prehistoric Earth once roamed Lesotho, and its fossilized footprints are visible in many sites. Paleontologist Peter Galton named the herbivorous bipesal reptile in 1978 for the country in which it was discovered. Other dinosaurs found in Lesotho include Massopondylus and Heterodontosaurus. Many fossils were discovered by missionaries exploring the area during the 19th
- Various Bantu-speaking peoples settled the area now known as Lesotho long before the Europeans colonized Africa. They called themselves the Basotho and were united under King Moshoeshoe I in 1822 amid exploration by the Dutch and British.
- Khoisan hunter-gatherers were the earliest inhabitants of Lesotho.
- The cattle pen (krall) is the nucleus of family groups who build their huts in a spaced fashion around the pen. Traditional huts are constructed of mud and dung walls with thatched roofs. These round houses (rondovals) are often decorated with bright designs.
- Each village has a meeting place (khotla) where business is conducted. The areas around the villages are owned in common by the people and the land is assigned by the chief for family farming.
- A local beer (joale ) is brewed in a large vat placed on the three-stone fireplace. This beer is the center of informal neighborhood gatherings and provides a small income for the family.
- In the villages, cultural rites are predominately centered around the sacrifice of a cow. Funerals often drain a poor family’s assets as a cow must be purchased at great expense. A family’s honor is dependent on the quality and quantity of food at wedding and funeral gatherings—spit-roasted cow and chicken are mandatory.
- In January 1998, Lesotho acquired various royalties by selling water to South Africa on completion of a major hydropower. Lesotho is proud to be producing around 90% of its own electrical power needs.
- In 1967, a mesmerizing 601-carat diamond (Lesotho Brown) was discovered by a Basuto woman in the mountains, and many more of these have been arbitrarily discovered over the years (in the very same location).
- Lesothans are proud of their colourful patterned blankets, made to replace animal skins, which visitors can buy as souvenirs of Basoto tribal culture.