Tourism

Lesotho is a democratic, sovereign and independent country which has an unusual distinction of being completely surrounded by another country, the republic of South Africa. The Kingdom of Lesotho is one of the three remaining monarchies in Africa.

A land of mountains, Lesotho is the only country in the world which has all its land lying at altitudes in excess of 1400m above sea-level; it is a land of heights and extremes. The mountain, Thabana-Ntlenyana is, at 3,482m, the highest in Southern Africa, while the highest single drop fall in the Southern Africa Maletsunyane is 192m, having the highest abseiling cliff in the whole world at 204m.

The Kingdom is a home to the largest and most ambitious civil engineering project in the whole of Africa, Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP), which has harnessed and commercialized her up-stream surplus water sources - often referred to by Basotho as their "White Gold".



Travelling in Lesotho

The roads in the urban areas of Lesotho are tarred and generally good but always beware of potholes. The mountains roads range from tar to narrower and steep dirt roads that make for entertaining driving in magnificent scenery. The road to Afriski is tarred all the way to Oxbow Lodge and road construction is currently in progress to tar the road from Oxbow all the way to the Sani Pass. Expected completion date for the entire route will be 2014. Lesotho has a high population of livestock so extreme care should be taken at all times. Exploring Lesotho with a four wheel drive is not essential and only required for the adventurous traveller heading off the main routes. Driving, especially in wet weather, can be challenging and there are few facilities outside the main towns. When driving in the mountains in winter it is advisable to carry tire chains because this snow drifts can become impassable. If travelling to Afriski, always check the www.afriski.net website for an update of the road conditions and recent snowfalls. During thunderstorm months between November and March, flash floods occur in the mountains and river levels can increase dramatically and within minutes. A 50 km/h speed limit applies in urban areas while 80 km/h is a maximum speed that can be maintained on all other roads. Keep this in mind when estimating travelling times between points.

Crossing the border

Lesotho is a member of the common customs area and all items for your personal use may be imported from any of these countries without formality. There is no restriction on the amount of consumer goods that may be imported, although eggs, maize and maize products, livestock and it's byproducts require a permit and a detailed inventory of the weight and cost of the goods. Alcohol may not be imported into Lesotho and border officials will very likely confiscate any found in your vehicle.

Security

Stone throwing occurs from time to time and particularly vulnerable are the vehicles at the tail end of a convoy. This mostly occurs outside, but not far from larger towns and settlements. Be careful to avoid local dogs that are often trained to guard cattle posts. They can be aggressive and bite intruders without warning.

Documents and Essentials

Visas are not requires by citizens of South Africa or the other Commonwealth countries. Valid South African, Botswana or Swaziland drivers licenses are acceptable, otherwise international driving licenses are required for all drivers in Lesotho. Each driver must carry an identity document or passport. Always carry copies of vehicle registration papers as getting through road blocks combating vehicle theft, which is rife in Lesotho, could present a problem. The wearing of safety belts and the carrying of warning triangles is compulsory. Fines can be given to law-breakers which have to be paid in cash and on the spot.

Health

No special health or vaccination certificates are required unless one has come from a country where yellow fever is endemic. There are hospitals or clinics in all the main towns but standards are not high, so for complicated illnesses or injury it is advisable to head for a city in South Africa. Bilharzia is present in all waters which flow close to humans settlements. Only on the highest of high mountains is it safe to drink untreated.

Sani Pass

Sani Pass is still one of the world’s most spectacular mountain drives. Actually, Sani Pass does not lie in Lesotho, but in no-man’s land between the South African border post at the bottom, and the Lesotho border post at it’s summit. In wet weather four-wheel drive vehicle is needed, but in the dry, any vehicle with reasonable clearance will make it up the pass. In winter, four-wheel drive is essential and please stay off the pass if it has areas of frozen snow still lying on it, this is when most accidents happen. In snow conditions, tire chains are essential. The pass may be tarred in 2013/2014.

Currency

The Lesotho currency comprises of one Loti (plural Maloti) which is divided into 100 lisente (singular sente). The currency is linked to the South African Rand which is also accepted. Mastercard, American Express, Visa and diners club are accepted in the main centres and in most lodges and hotels. Fuel purchases require cash. Banks open at 09h00 and close at 13h00 weekdays and at 11h00 on Saturdays.

Topography and Climate

Lesotho has the highest lowest point (1400) of any country on Earth. The country is dominated by the Maluti mountain range which runs mainly south-west to north-east, culminating in an eastern summit plateau exceeding 3000 meters. Thabana-Ntlenyana, at 3 482m and visible from the top of the Sani Pass, it the highest point in Southern Africa. The western portion of the country is known as the lowlands. This is a misnomer as these so called 'lowlands; are actually plains lying between 1500-1600m above sea level. The Lowlands contain seven of the 10 district headquarter towns, much of the population and the best agricultural land.

As Lesotho lies outside of the tropics the climate is temperate with well-defined seasons. The lowland mean temperatures range from 8C in winter to 24C in summer. It is considerably colder in the mountains where conditions cane change very quickly, especially in winter. Every year people are trapped in the mountains because of sudden severe snowfalls and temperatures that can plummet below -15C. Precipitation averages 500 mm per year in the extreme west and 1300 mm in the northern mountains. 85 percent of precipitation falls between October and April and often comes in the form of heavy thundershowers.

Enjoy your travel in Lesotho.

QUICK FACTS

Lesotho is a democratic, sovereign and independent country which has an unusual distinction of being completely surrounded by another country, the republic of South Africa. The Kingdom of Lesotho is one of the three remaining monarchies in Africa.

NEIGHBOURING TOWNS

CLARENS - JEWEL OF THE FREESTATE

Clarens is part of the scenic Highlands Route and is surrounded by mountainous splendour. The Rooiberge is the range encompassing the village, whilst further on towards the southeast, the mighty Maluti’s stand proud in shades of purple and blue. All around are the sandstone cliffs with their multi-coloured layers - this horizontal strata is a unique geological feature of the area, and is known as the Clarens formation. Many homes in the Clarens Valley are made from Clarens Sandstone.

The village has become know as the “Jewel of the Free State” - rich in beauty, with an aura of peace and tranquillity. Clarens is endowed with more trees than most other Free State towns - the fresh, light green willows and colourful blossoms of the many fruit trees are an unforgettable sight in spring time; whilst the magnificent autumn shades of the lombard poplars attract artists, photographers and nature lovers. The town is known for the many Art and Craft shops which offer the visitor a wide range of curios and original artwork. The popular Golden Gate National Park is located in the near vicinity of Clarens.

Courtesy of Clarens Tourism - www.clarens.co.za


FOURIESBURG