What can I say about the mountain kingdom of Lesotho? Man, so much because this small country is packed with interesting facts and incredible scenery.
First, though, let’s talk about some basic. One, the pronunciation of the country is not as to be expected and Lesotho is actually pronounced li-sue-too.
Second, where is Lesotho? Lesotho is located in the middle of South Africa (see map).
Other cool facts
- The capital is Maseru.
- The country has a constitutional monarchy like the UK and the king is Letsie III.
- The country is called an enclaved landlocked country because it is completely surrounded by South Africa, which makes it vulnerable to social and economic issues in SA. It is the only country in the world like this.
- The population is around 2 million people.
- The entire country is located above 1000 meters in elevation and it is the only country that boast that fact.In fact, 80% of the country lies above 1800 m (5906 ft).
- Water is big business here and part of their national economy. They even sell their water to South Africa as I talked about previously (here).
Sad facts about Lesotho
- Around 40% of the population lives in poverty as defined as living on less $1.25 USD per day.
- The prevalence of HIV is one of the highest in the world at ~24% and it has been estimated that ~50% of women under the age of 40 are infected. These are absolutely dire and heartbreaking stats.
Lesotho is an amazing country for all the facts listed above, but also for how it came into existence. As I understand it, Lesotho formerly called Basutoland was its own independent place back in the mid-1800s. Due to its geography of being completely encompassed by SA, however, it had numerous issues during the South Africa Boer Wars including people trying to settle their land. During that time the Lesotho people aligned themselves with the British who made them a protectorate essentially making sure their land could not be claimed by the Afrikaaners of South Africa. After many years under British rule, Lesotho gained its independence in 1966 and officially became the Kingdom of Lesotho.
I just felt pleased to have the chance to spend time in this unique country. The scenery was absolutely spectacular complete with snow-capped mountains all around and on this sunny day taking in the views was amazing. Really, I should just shut up and present the photos because the only way to get a sense of this place is through some photos!
Even our lunch spot was incredible. Partway through the day we took our bagged lunches to the edge of a cliff to take in the views and get some sustenance. It was beautiful, but also incredibly windy and cold as observed by our lunch photos.
Again, the roadwork going on in the country is everywhere. All along our drive in the country we ran into teams of people tarring the road. The Chinese are in charge of this endeavor so it wasn’t uncommon to come across them en route. Our guide took to greeting them with “nee hau” whenever he came across them. I think it took them by surprise to see a Basotho man yelling the Chinese phrase “you good” as he is driving past.
We took a short stop to a village in Lesotho where we got to drink some local beer and taste their amazing bread. We also got to go inside a rondavel. I felt a bit weird on this part of the trip and kinda felt like it was contrived, but luckily it was only a small portion of the day.
Finally, no trip to Lesotho would be complete with our a trip to the Sani Pass Pub also known as the highest pub in Africa. It is always a part of the trip into the country up the Sani Pass (see that post here) and, while touristy, it is still an amazing spot to have a beer or two. I elected to have the Maluti beer as it is the beer of the country and deemed the “Pride of Lesotho”. It is still made partially from corn like the SA beers, so it is not my favorite. But the experience was a highlight of the day.