Don't delay - Visit Lesotho!

While I have visited Lesotho several times, they have always been brief and I have never really considered the absolute beauty and staggering scenery that this small country presents to you.  It is completely incredible.  And I did not manage to see much in a recent short visit, because - it was short - and the weather made sure the views were not altogether available for much of the time. 

Lesotho's highlands are also very accessible via good roads and we were able to climb to over 3,000m taking in waterfalls, watching flocks of Angora goats climb the steep hills their bells ringing all the way. 

While the towns are filled with filth and litter and look pretty appalling - the countryside, although quite heavily populated with small, rural homesteads is much neater and people seem to take pride in their clean surroundings.  Each homestead contains a small farmyard and collection of animals who are all tethered or being carefully watched by the ubiquitous herdsman who serve to keep them off the road and keep a watch on them.  They look a little sinister, tall balaclava and blanket clad wielding a shepherd's crook of sorts.  We saw several at the top of a 3,000m mountain pass with two cows in blizzard like conditions.  Not that I have ever been involved in a blizzard, but it was 3 degrees C and there was sleet and a powerful wind.

Sheep, horses, cows, goats (Angora) all look in acceptable condition and somehow do not get tangled up in the ropes.  The homesteads are neat and well kept, often with small, raised vegetables covered with netting to protect from the livestock and frost. 

We were fortunate enough to see quite a bit of "goat activity".  Something that always interests me.  We watched skilled herdsman gather a flock (not sure for what purpose, but they had already been shorn).  Lots of shouting and whips clacking the surrounding pack of working dogs seemed to be more observers than partakers, although one seemed to be running around with a pair of black lace panties in its mouth. The goats were calm and co-operative.

The Basuto people were energetic, charming and friendly, both at the lodge we stayed at (www.maliba-lodge.com) and when we stopped along the road to ask for directions.  The border was a cinch and the service and all around helpfulness and happiness were evident.  Driving in Lesotho must not be undertaken if in a hurry, the speed limit varies from 50km to 80km and the roads are windy and a major thoroughfare for swarms of throngs children, livestock, cattle carts and dogs.

A good stop over is Clarens which is near the border post through which we entered (Caledonspoort).  It has a well known, no-fills blanket shop run by two sprightly 80 year old sisters.  They stock a range of 100% wool Basuto blankets that come with a nice big safety pin in case you want to wear it like a herdsman.  I bought one with the iconic and endemic Aloe Polyphylla (Sprial aloe which thrives in cold climes and high altitudes and is being "poached" to endangered levels.)  It's beautifully warm.

There's so much information out there, but start with.

www.seelesotho.com
www.lonelyplanet.com/lesotho