We have found the real Wakanda, remember: a fictional African country from the Marvel superhero production, Black Panther. Wakanda has rare minerals, rich culture and stunning nature as major characteristics. And well, as it turns out, Lesotho has exactly the same characteristics. Only this country, aka the Kingdom in the Sky, is for real.
The unique positioning of Lesotho, high up in and embedded in the mountains of South Africa, gives you jaw-dropping, dramatic landscapes everywhere you look. In those landscapes you’ll see people passing by, keeping themselves hot with the traditional Basotho blankets (also seen in Black Panther). We can tell you: that’s only the tip of the rich culture and history that Lesotho has to offer.
The fact that this place is isolated, have hidden, preserved and protected it during the course of time. But now, thanks to its minerals this gem is opening itself to the world. In returning for mining Lesotho’s world-famous diamonds, China is developing a road network. A pretty smooth one at that: you no longer need a 4×4 to discover this kingdom. What are we waiting for? Time to explore before the masses arrive!
That’s exactly what we did. We’ve done it and we loved it. Find out our favorite moments below.
Travel tip: a holiday in Lesotho is wonderful to combine with the discovery of KwaZulu-Natal, South-Africa of the beaten tracks. Stay tuned on our blog for more details!
A pass that starts in South-Africa and goes all the way into Lesotho. It offers amazing views over the Drakensbergen mountain range and Lesotho. At the top, you can have a drink in the highest pub of Africa and visit a local village, where a lovely lady sells quality souvenirs. You are only allowed up there with a 4×4, and some experience is required on rainy/snowy days. If you don’t have a 4×4 you can book a tour or try to make friends in the villages at the foot of the Sani Pass in Underberg.
As we speak, the road is getting tarred. According to locals it’s only a matter of time before you’ll be eating your Big Mac on top, instead of drinking a delicious Basotho soup.
Accommodation tip: use AirBNB in Underberg, a village at the bottom of the Sani pass. There’s a ton of wonderful hosts that will happily show you the pearls of the village and if you’re lucky, they will even take you all the way up the Sani pass.
Road Tripping on the Roof of Africa
Once good for some world-famous rallying, the roads zigzagging in and around the highest peaks of Southern Africa are now allowing a smooth drive to enjoy the dramatic sceneries and some vulture and other big bird (falcon, buzzard) spotting. After every corner a new adventure awaits.
Activity tip: when you go in winter(July-August), make a stop for some skiing at Afriski (www.afriski.net ). This is the only place in Africa where there’s a snow slope: talk about a unique experience. There’s other extreme sports available in the region.
Activity tip: avoid dinosaur footprint tourist traps or going to a National Park unannounced and out of season (they are often privatized). We speak by experience!
Horse riding in the south
Basotho horses are known for their bravery and loyalty. To the Basotho a key stone of community as a work machine and a transport ‘vehicle’, to us, tourists, a magical way to discover the beauty Lesotho has to offer. The horses know the area by heart and will guide you through it with great passion (so does the guide), even if you’ve never been on a horse before.
Set your own boundaries and feel the freedom. Tell your guide you’re going for a galop (again, even if you’ve never done it before) and two minutes, some clicking sounds and ‘kai kai’ later, you’re racing the guy. Farmers and villagers will wave as you pass by.
Activity tip: There is a number of accommodations offering horse riding. We went with the amazing Jape (guide), Ntiti and Matsitsi (horses) at the Semonkong Lodge (http://www.semonkonglodge.com/activities/overnight-trails/). The horses are in good shape and treated well. The whole experience was top notch!
The place of Smoke, a name it got by the smoke created at the drop of the Maletsunyane falls. Take a guide and learn about the village OR, … even better, get him to guide you on a wonderful walk in nature: meet shepherds and farmers, learn about local life. Get up to the Maletsunyane falls, one of the highest (192m) single dropping waterfalls in Africa. This is one of those moments where words just don’t live up to the magic and drama of a place, even pictures don’t do it justice.
Just go there, get enchanted.
Accomodation tip: if you’re traveling on a budget, try camping. Lesotho has limited places to stay and prices for a room rice quickly. Most accommodations also offer camping ground though at a fraction of the price. Semonkong Lodge is one of those places(http://www.semonkonglodge.com/).
It is all very clean and well taken care of. The host, Jonathan, will be happy to tell you his adventures and gladly listen to yours. If you decide on the room, they will light the fireplace in your room for some extra heat and cosines.
Guest blog by Ludwine Van Craenenbroeck