Welcome to Lesotho
The kingdom in the sky
Welcome to one of the most surprising destinations in Africa. A visit to Lesotho will reveal just why this tiny landlocked nation has earned the title of Africa’s “kingdom in the sky”.
Lesotho is completely engulfed by South Africa, but it couldn’t be more different than its neighbour when it comes to culture, experiences, atmosphere and landscapes. Characterised by towering mountain peaks, fertile valleys and breathtaking vistas, travellers often compare it to Switzerland thanks to its snow-capped mountains and lush, green valleys. In the foothills you’ll find San rock art that’s thousands of years old – a clear sign you’re in Africa, not Europe.
Lesotho has an eternally sunny climate, but the real drawcard is the country’s diverse topography. A whopping two-thirds of Lesotho terrain is mountainous – 80% of the country lies at an elevation of more than 1,800 metres – while the rest is a mix of foothills, rivers, valleys and lowlands.
You can expect a holiday full of surprises as you explore this off-the-beaten-track country (pronounced, by the way, like this: li-SOO-too).
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Lesotho at a glance
Look at a map of Africa. That the tiny dot at the bottom of the continent, on the eastern side of South Africa, marks Lesotho. At just over 30,000 square kilometres, it’s a similar size to Switzerland.
The population of Lesotho is almost entirely made of up Basotho people, who trace their origins back to disparate Sotho clans which were united by Moshoeshoe the Great in the early 19th century. This probably won’t mean much to outsiders, but when you visit Lesotho you’ll be struck by the warm hospitality and fierce pride in Basotho culture. This tiny African nation has been through so much politically, with various controls before gaining independence in the 1960s. Since then, as Lonely Planet says, “Lesotho’s political climate has been characterised largely by coup d’etats and meddling from various foreign powers, particularly the South African government.”
This fluctuation does not impact visitors and its fledgling economy – which is still mostly based on subsistence agriculture and pastoralism – craves tourism.
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