Leaving South Africa
Lesotho is a proper country...
I’d never even heard of the Kingdom of Lesotho before I travelled to the Southern end of Africa, even though it was a British colony until 1966, but after spending 3 days in the company of the Basotho (a Bantu-speaking people) I would like to return one day to really get to know the country.
When looking on a map you’d be forgiven for thinking Lesotho was a province of South Africa but it’s a micro-state which is very proud to be independent after a hard struggle to prevent absorption by the country that surrounds them. Out of all the micro-states I have visited it was the one that felt most like a country to me, there was a proper border and after crossing you notice a significant drop in the standard of living compared to South Africa. It has a population of slightly over two million, of which about 40% live below the international poverty line of US $1.25 a day, with around 75% of the people living in rural accommodation.
The people also wear less western attire, choosing instead the traditional Lesotho blankets, sometimes accompanied by their infamous hats. Like a lot of micro-states there wasn’t much
Crossing the Bprder at Ficksburg
...there was a proper border and everything
to do for foreign visitors, we visited Thaba Bosiu, the sacred hill where the nation was established around 200 years ago. We saw graves of former kings and the conical shaped hill which has become the symbol of Lesotho, found on the flag, driving licenses and was the inspiration for their traditional hats.
We travelled to a neighbouring valley to visit the Kome caves, which are in a hidden location and have housed people who were trying to hide from cannibals since the early 1800’s. It was nice enough but not the most amazing thing you will ever see in your life, luckily it only cost a couple of Euros.
Lesotho is known as the ‘Kingdom in the sky’ and is the only country in the world that lies entirely above 1,000m, with more than 80%!a(MISSING)bove 1,800m, so it’s chocker-block full of mountains. For our last day we headed to Semonkong to do the longest single-drop abseil in the world, which you do next to the 204m Maletsunyane waterfall. We walked to see the falls in the afternoon through some sensational mountain and canyon scenery then we stayed in the Semonkong Lodge in a really cool
Armed and Ready
To make sure I bought Corn Flakes as soon as I could, just across the border
dormitory with an open fire.
In the morning we had a quick half an hour training session then went straight to the top of the falls to earn our Guinness World Record Certificates.... and fill our pants. It wasn’t long before I was suddenly holding on to a bit of rope being told to walk backwards off the edge of a massive cliff and despite all the safety measures it wasn’t an easy thing to do. On my way down I didn’t take much time to take in the scenery, my survival instincts made me pull my finger out. I really picked up the pace when I started getting wet as the river water was freezing due to the altitude but it still took me just over 15 minutes to reach the bottom .
After everybody had descended we walked out of the canyon reflecting on an incredible experience that left us happy to have done it but also glad it was over. We drove out of the mountains and back into South Africa to continue on the road for another 3 months exploring Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland.
The Traditional Hat
It features on the flag, their money and all sorts of official documents
Worth taking a look at the video below to see the waterfall and the abseil
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