The small African nation of Lesotho is a country that many people would probably have a hard time finding on a map, and for good reason. This landlocked nation, known as the Kingdom in the Sky because of its high elevation, is situated entirely within the borders of South Africa and is so small in area that it only takes 72 hours in Lesotho to explore most of the country’s points of interest.
But size isn’t everything, as the country’s culture, cuisine, and attractions are every bit as engrossing and immersive as those of a nation a dozen times its size. Lesotho boasts sites and wonders that are sure to enthrall any traveler, including scenic mountains and waterfalls, beautiful cultural villages, unique shopping, luxurious lodges, and breathtaking national parks. If you’re already visiting South Africa, Lesotho is easy to get to; the country is only a seven-hour drive south from Johannesburg or a five-hour drive west from Durban. These are the places you absolutely have to visit once you arrive within the borders of Lesotho. Here is our 72 hours in Lesotho Travel Guide
One place you have to experience for yourself when you go to Lesotho is Semonkong, a small community council in the central part of the country, roughly 120 kilometers from the capital city of Maseru. The town’s roughly 7,700 residents are spread between dozens of even smaller villages, including Boitumelo, Ha Khonyeli, Ha Sethuoa-Majoe, Ha Tšitso, Motse-Mocha, and Tšoeu-tšoana.
In the local language of Sesotho, the community’s name translates to “place of smoke,” a reference to the smoke-like vapor that is created as the water from the nearby Maletsunyane Falls plummets 186 meters into the gorge below. Semonkong, which was first founded in the 1880s as a place of refuge for the Basotho, a Bantu ethnic tribe that had been displaced by the Gun War between 1880 and 1881, is also known as the horse capital of Lesotho.
Have an authentic Semonkong experience by visiting the local market and buying some traditional woolen beanies, which you can wear atop your head or around your face to stay warm in this cold, mountainous African nation.
No visit to Semonkong is complete stopping by Semonkong Lodge, which offers beautiful and comfortable accommodations along the Malestunyane River.
Semonkong Lodge offers twenty-five rooms of different types and sizes, including stone-and-thatch rooms that are a stunning mix of rustic and elegant and contain warm beds and fireplaces; a campsite featuring hot showers, plug points, and a braai area; a communal kitchen where you can cook your own food; and a restaurant and tavern called The Duck & Donkey that sources fresh, local organic produce and offers options for vegetarians and guests with special dietary needs (with prior notice).
This is the place to stay if you’re looking to explore central Lesotho over the course of a day or more. It is situated close to several attractions including Maletsunyane Falls, the largest single-drop waterfall in the southern hemisphere and the community of Semonkong. The lodge itself offers pony trekking, abseiling, donkey pub crawls, pony trekking, mountain biking, hiking, fishing, and more.
Maliba Mountain Lodge
When you’re ready to explore the northern part of Lesotho, look no further than Maliba Mountain Lodge when deciding on a place to stay. This gorgeous, award-winning lodge is the country’s only five-star luxury accommodation and can be found in the mountains of the unspoiled Tsehlanyane National Park in the interior of Lesotho.
Maliba Mountain Lodge is flexible in the accommodations they offer, including luxury, all-inclusive lodges for guests with larger budgets and self-catering lodges for those with smaller budgets. Their six five-star chalets, which are perfect for couples, offer tons of amenities including WiFi, cable TV, heated beds and floors, and an electronic safe.
They also contain a luxurious bath, private patio, and a woodburning fireplace. The four river lodges on the property can accommodate up to eight people each, and their three riverside huts contain a queen-sized bed and are located near a beautiful river swimming hole in the national park.
Maliba Mountain Lodge guests looking for fun adventures to embark upon in the area will find no shortage of activities, including horseback riding with an experienced guide, hiking, and taking cultural visits to the nearby village. Visitors who want to stick closer to the lodge can enjoy a wonderful back massage at their incredible spa. If you decide to spend 72 hours in Lesotho, be sure to carve out a nice chunk of time to enjoy the amenities of Maliba Mountain Lodge.
Tsehlanyane National Park
While you’re enjoying the luxury and amenities of Maliba Mountain Lodge, don’t forget to take some time to enjoy its wild and pristine surroundings, Tsehlanyane National Park. One of the best ways to do this is to take a horse trekking excursion into the mountains. There are different tours you can take, including ones that last just an hour or two, as well as all-day treks.
A stop at the nearby cultural village of Hamadi will give visitors a look into the life of the locals, including visits to the local doctor and the local school, touring traditional mud huts, and trying some traditional beer, which takes seven days to brew and has a pretty bitter taste. Just remember that, although Lesotho is an African country, it is also a mountainous one, so make sure to dress for cold or chilly weather even during the summer.
This is a beautiful, eye-opening, and educational way to spend part of your 72 hours in Lesotho and is highly recommended for anyone who wants to learn about local culture.
Even if you don’t know much about Lesotho before you arrive there, you will leave the country at the end of your trip a richer and more complete human being, as the entire country is the best kind of learning experience. Between the fantastic natural wonders, the insightful looks into the culture, and the warm and friendly people you’ll meet at every turn, this place is truly magical. And even if you still have trouble finding it on a map, there’s no way you’ll ever forget the beautiful experiences you’ll have there. Spend 72 hours in Lesotho. You won’t regret a moment of it.