Lesotho (le-soo-too) is called Southern Africa’s ‘kingdom in the sky’ for good reason. This stunningly beautiful, mountainous country is nestled island-like in the middle of South Africa and it is a fascinating travel detour from its larger neighbour. The country offers superb mountain scenery, a proud traditional people, endless hiking trails, and the chance to explore remote areas on Basotho ponies.
The ‘lowland’ areas (all of which are still above 1000m) offer some craft shopping and dinosaur footsteps, while the highlands in the northeast and centre feature towering peaks (over 3000m) and verdant valleys. Escape the rest of the world in Eastern Lesotho's remote Sehlabathebe National Park, or hang out in the pleasant capital Maseru, where a slow pace and friendly locals ensure a memorable stay.
Lesotho came into being during the early 19th century, when both the difaqane (forced migration) and Boer incursions into the hinterlands were at their height. Under the leadership of the legendary king Moshoeshoe the Great, the Basotho people sought sanctuary and strategic advantage amid the forbidding terrain of the Drakensberg and Maluti Ranges. The small nation they forged continues to be an intriguing anomaly in a sea of modernity.
Getting around is reasonably easy – ordinary hire cars will get you most places; public transport is extensive, albeit slow. Hiking or pony trekking from village to village are the best ways of exploring.