The Kingdom of Lesotho is a small country tucked away within South Africa. With just over two million inhabitants, this often forgotten corner of southern Africa is home to three national parks, and seems like worlds away from the surrounding areas. Lesotho is a mountainous country, and is both very traditional and hospitable to visiting foreigners.
The capital city of Maseru is situated on the Caledon River and is right on the border of South Africa, so is an easy entry point for Lesotho through the town of Ladybrand on the South African side of the border. Maseru was originally founded as a small police base belonging to the British government back in 1869, until the country regained its independence in 1966. Sesotho is the main language spoken throughout the country closely followed by English, which is widely spoken, particularly in Maseru.
As the country has a high altitude the temperatures are cooler than other regions in the same area, but Lesotho generally enjoys a continental climate, experiencing cool winters and hot summers. The rolling mountainous landscape means that the temperatures are very variable throughout the country, so Maseru, which is on lower ground, has tropical hot summers with plenty of rain, and cool dry winters. The highest temperatures occur between November and February, and light clothing is essential, along with waterproof clothes, as the weather can be unpredictable.
While at Maseru the temperatures can reach 33°C in the height of summer, this is much less likely out in the mountains. Parts of Lesotho can get bitterly cold in the winter, with heavy snowfall and temperatures recorded as low as -18°C in the highlands. In the summer months there is also the possibility of dramatic lightning storms, so avoiding the higher ground during these storms is essential.
Lesotho is accessible directly from South Africa, and this is often the easiest point of entry to the country. The main airport in Lesotho is Moshoeshoe Airport, which is just 18 kilometers from Maseru, and there are flights to Moshoeshoe every day from Johannesburg. If you are thinking of flying into Lesotho, be organized and arrange a taxi to pick you up from the airport in advance, as there will not be any waiting for passengers who have not booked. Luggage is often lost on these flights, and if this happens, there is no way of reporting it, you might not necessary see it again, so make sure to keep anything of value in your onboard luggage.
There are several border crossings into Lesotho if you are travelling by car, but only two of these are open 24 hours a day: Maseru Bridge and Ficksburg Bridge. Vehicle checks are standard routine, and can cause delays, especially as travelers with many bags are treated as suspicious. The main roads into Lesotho are of a relatively high quality, though there are border crossings that can only be accessed by four-wheel drive cars because they are more like tracks. Be aware of the border crossing opening and closing times before starting your journey into Lesotho if you are not traveling into one of the ones that are open for 24 hours.