It is as if you have crossed into another realm. This natural tourist paradise is begging to be marketed to draw people from all over the world for the benefit of Basotho people. The mountains are but one of the many tourist attractions Lesotho is endowed with. Added to them are the falls the historical monuments which have enriched the folklore of the country for many years. All these places have potential to generate income especially during the 2010 soccer world cup if well marketed, making big strides towards the achievement of the national vision 2020.
Promoting tourism in Lesotho is a sure fire way to social and economic development, and to the attraction of much needed foreign investment. Lesotho is really a wonderland for nature lovers or those who simply appreciate the wonders of nature. It has a real culture, natural history and boundless ecotourism options. Overview of Lesotho as tourist destination “Kingdom in the sky”, also known as “Friendly mountain Kingdom”. This popular eco destination is characterized by its remote, rugged mountains and deep valleys, with plummeting waterfalls that form a spectacular frozen stalactite in the winter months.
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Lesotho is truly idyllic destination. A mere four hours drive from Johannesburg or Durban is a place where the sun shines three hundred days a year. This country has the lowest point that is one thousand meters above sea level and boasts the highest single drop in Southern Africa. It has the highest road pass in Southern Africa at 3275 meters and is one of the few countries in the world that is completely land locked. Lesotho’s two main mountain ranges are the Snow-capped Maloti and Drakensbug ranges. The capital, Maseru, is the only city in Lesotho.
However there are also several large towns in each of its ten districts. The ever-friendly Basotho people are eager to share their culture with tourists. The serene simplicity of their highlands life is enviable. This indeed is a country where time stands still. For the people of the world, the natural and cultural features that are of outstanding universal importance and value include the unique mountain wet lands and alpine tundra eco systems, the superlative natural beauty and the distinctive array of both plants and animals.
In addition, the natural setting provides a glimpse into a way of life of the San who once lived there, documenting their lives and spirituality in over 40 thousand rock art images in almost 600 sites. Liphofung (place of Clarence) Situated just off the main road from Butha-Buthe to Mokhotlong, Liphofung (place of Clarence), was a stop over for Moshoeshoe I the founder of the Basotho Nation on his way from Menkhoaneng to Thaba-Busiu. The place is now famous for its museum and one of the largest galleries in the world which has the art of the first habitats of Lesotho, the San (Bush men) who lived there over 10 000 years ago.
Some of the rock paintings Close by, with a height of 3482m (11 424 ft), is Thabana-Ntlenyana, which literally means ‘Beautiful Little Black Mountain’. It is the highest point in Lesotho and the highest mountain in Africa South of Kilimanjaro. It is found in Mokhotlong district, 15km (approximately 1. 5 hrs. drive) from the top of Sani Pass and it is to the top of Kotisephola Pass, 3250m. It is famous for its unpredictable atmospheric weather, veering from thunderstorms, very low temperatures to scorching suns or siege by mysterious mists which make it more unforgettable.
These mountains are best experienced from within Lesotho. Historically it is here in these mountains where Basotho fled from the Zulu King Shaka, in the 19th century. The mountains became their fortress and protection. The route to Thabana-Ntlenyana is filled with formidable twists and turns of the sheer craggy mountains, majestic valleys and cascading streams meandering between the rocks. A combination of all these is a definition of a true scenic beauty giving a sense of remoteness in spring and summer, but a virginal white in winter.
There is a friendly highest pub in Africa called Sani Top Chalet at 2874m above sea level. The route to Thabana-Ntlenyana is filled with formidable twists and turns of the sheer craggy mountains, majestic valleys and cascading streams meandering between the rocks. Combination of all these is a definition of a true scenic beauty. The plateau landscape is simply beautiful with awesome vegetation, open yellow plains and a distinct sense of remoteness , more especially during spring and summer seasons, but a virginal white in winter.
Visible along the route are small stone build huts ( called Metebo in Sesotho) which are in isolation, deep into the mountains, in which rural Basotho shepherds live while looking after their cattle and sheep. There are many view points where tourists can stop to observe this remarkable beauty. This arduous trek to Thabana-Ntlenyana can be undertaken on a horseback or alternatively a 4WD vehicle. Thabana-Ntlenyana is also preferred for skiing, ice skating and snowboarding during winter season, which is from May to August.
Near this mountain are the headwaters of the Tugela and Senqu (Orange) rivers, where fly fishing and water rafting are possible during summer season. Hiking, rock climbing and pony trekking are enjoyed throughout the year. Mornings here are such heart-warming with different kinds of birds with beautiful music to prepare you to the day ahead. It is with no doubt that a day is just not enough for one to be at this place because of the many activities provided here.
Among the most interesting activities provided, here is ‘walking’ which really offers an ideal way in which to explore the fascinating archaeological sites found in this area. Afri-Ski The novelty of snow in Africa is best experienced at Afri-Ski which caters for skiing in winter. With a ski slope 3222m above sea level, Afri-Ski is the largest skiing resort in Africa. The skiers are accommodated at the New Oxbow Lodge and self catering Mahlasela Lodge. Trout fishing and water rafting take place in summer in Maliba-Mats`o, a river just a couple kilometers from Oxbow Lodge. Pony Trekking is another activity in summer.
Letseng Diamond mine It is not just a diamond mine!. It is the world’s highest altitude mine with 3 kilometres above sea level, experiencing -20 degrees Celsius in winter . It is in this mine where the highest proportions of largest stones of any mine in the world are found. The discoveries states that in 1967 a 601 carat stone was discovered and a 215 carat stone was recovered in 2005. In August 2006, a 603 carat stone was discovered being “the 15th largest rough diamond ever discovered, and the biggest diamond un covered in this century” .
Letseng does not only play a significant role in the economy of Lesotho as a mine but also as a tourist destination as it accommodates tourists who want to have a feel of the ‘Mine in the sky’ as it were. This is enhanced by the close proximity of “The Khubelu Hot spring. ” The hot spring is at close range to Letseng Diamond mine, sharing social backgrounds and other aspects encompassed in Mental, Physical and Spiritual building of a living being. Khatse Dam This centerpiece of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project is a fine piece of engineering.
The flooded valleys of the dam extend for 45km and the dam wall is 185m high. This dam is second in size (in Africa) only to the Lake Volta Akosombo Dam in Ghana. The view of this massive dam from Mafika Lisiu Pass is magnificent and is often of great interest to visitors. The centre piece of the whole project is the dam wall which is the highest in Africa. An area of the lake can be devoted to water sports. Thaba Bosiu Thaba-Bosiu is Lesotho’s great national monument. The mystical Thaba Bosiu is a flat-topped hill which was used by Moshoeshoe I as his citadel when establishing the nation.
In translation, the name means ‘Mountain of the night’ and it is believed that the enemies of Moshoeshoe could not attack as the hill became a formidable mountain at night but went back to a hill during the day. The substantial remains of the King’s dwellings and villages and the royal cemetery of Lesotho are on top of the hill. Maletsunyane Falls Maletsunyane Falls in Semonkong is one of the highest single-drop falls in Southern Africa plunging 200 meters into a swim able pool whose stunning natural scenery is unspoiled by anything man-made.
It is nearly twice as high as Victoria Falls, though not nearly as wide. The falls are very impressive, and can be visited on pony-trekking trails from both Malealea to the West and Molimo Nthuse to the North. Maletsunyane Falls are most spectacular in summer when the flow is highest, but in winter the water freezes, spraying the rocks with ice water. Conclusion Lesotho is indeed in a class of its own in tourism terms and the sensitive exploitation of its endowments can firmly place the country on the world tourism map.
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