Picturesque Lesotho is a perfect destination for adventure tourism. You won’t find the Big Five in any of Lesotho’s parks and reserves, and the wilderness attraction here is predominantly geared towards hikers and pony treks.
Described as the “Kingdom in the sky” or the “Mountain Kingdom”, Lesotho provides memorable scenery for tourists, with its surreal rock formations, abundance of water with lakes, rivers and spectacular waterfalls everywhere, grasslands and unique mountain flora and fauna. It is the unique landscapes of this mountain kingdom that makes any activity that bit more special.
Some of the outdoor activities, which can be performed in Lesotho, are:
Fishing in Lesotho is a heavenly experience offering plenty of excitement for the angler. A number of dams and rivers in Lesotho have made fishing one of the most enjoyable leisure activities in the country. September to May is the best time for fishing in Lesotho. The Mountain streams of the Lesotho highlands offer some of the best trout fishing in Africa. The high altitude and cold temperatures lend themselves well to year round trout fishing in Lesotho.
Trying to fish in the rainy season is possibly the worst time as most of the rivers are clouded with silt and the fishing is badly affected. There are some of the rivers that are good for fishing then, but they are not readily accessible.
2. Paragliding / Hang gliding
Despite having ideal crystal clear mountain air and strong breezes for paragliding and hand gliding, the sport remains very much dormant while across the border near the town of De Aar. Gliders must bring their own ‘wings’, as there is no specialist equipment for hire in Lesotho. Local information can be obtained from the Lesotho Tourist Board. The make Lesotho an ideal venue for these activities.
3. Horse Riding
Pony trekking in Lesotho is honestly the most popular activity among the different adventure sports in Lesotho. Pony trekking is one of the best ways to experience the varied landscapes of Lesotho without the limitations of a car, in complete peace and solitude.
There are many types of treks which can last for a week or even for two hours. The visitors can choose as per their convenience. Trekking in this region is done on the very unique Basotho pony. They are an intriguing mix of the full mount European horses and the short Javanese ponies. No prior experience of riding is necessary to take the saddle. However, novice riders can avail of special guides on request. Horseback safari tours are very common among the travelers visiting Lesotho.
4. Skiing and Snowboarding
Skiing in Lesotho is one of the main reasons for tourists flocking to this land locked country surrounded by the terrain of the Republic of South Africa. It is situated in a high altitude with temperatures reaching below freezing point over the winter months. This facilitates ideal opportunities for Skiing in Lesotho. The best time for skiing is from June through to August.
Skiing slopes are found in the Oxbow area. Afri-Ski Leisure Kingdom offers some amazing skiing and snowboarding. The oldest resort in Lesotho is the mountain resort of Oxbow. The longest slope in Africa is a 1.5-2km slope called Mahlesela Hill. It’s just 11km away from Oxbow Lodge where you can hire ski equipment. But snow or no snow, the area is beautiful and the mountain walks are lovely.
5. Mountain Biking
It has become one of the most popular forms of entertainment among the young adventure loving tourists who visit the country from different corners of the world. Lesotho mountain biking takes riders through zigzagging routes amidst the high and beautiful mountain ranges of the country. While going through the different rocky roads the travellers will go past plenty of stunning scenic locations, unique flora and fauna and many lovely waterfalls as well.
There is also opportunity of taking up only downhill biking, which makes the trip more adventurous if that is your particular brand of fun.
There are quite a few touring agencies and lodges, which organize biking tours through the Lesotho Mountains. These tours typically span 4 to 5 days or even more and can be a once in a life time experience for all adventure seekers.
6. Trekking / Hiking
Lesotho is definitely a hiker’s paradise and since the whole country is mountainous, rough, rugged, yet incredibly scenic, and perfect hiking. Lesotho has no organized hiking trails per say, but on the other hand it doesn’t need any since the entire country is a network of bridle and foot paths. You will also not find a single fence in the mountains. Camping is possible anywhere, and with a tent you can have a nights rest in some beautiful spots!
There are some wonderful trails to be found in the various national parks and nature reserves. (Sehlabathebe National Park, Ts’ehlanyane National Park, Bokong Nature Reserve or even Sani Pass) Many of the Lodges will be able to provide maps of their own areas. For the less experienced, simpler overnight hikes can be done from Semongkong, Malealea, Mountain Backpackers Club or Thaba Tours – the owners will be happy to help you.
7. 4×4 / Motor biking / quad biking
The Lesotho Highlands offer some of the most fantastic off road driving you will encounter anywhere in Southern Africa. It is full of beautiful mountain passes (No less than nine) and deep river valleys with tremendous scenery were ever you look. They don’t call it the roof of Africa for nothing!
The roads and passes themselves offer varying challenges that can test driver and vehicle alike. Most of the countries roads are little more than dirt tracks, however the road network (such as it is) is slowly upgrading in line with the main roads.
Watch out for the weather though, as Lesotho can cycle through all four seasons in a single day leaving conditions varied and in places difficult. So whether you are in 4 wheels or just 2, the mountain Kingdom has a challenge for you that you will find both inspiring and rewarding at the end of the day.
With water otherwise known as “white Gold” in Lesotho, water sport activities on larger rivers and the Mohale and Katse Dams should not be ignored. Kayak the Senqu River as it flows westwards towards the Atlantic Ocean and you will find it is filled with tremendous scenery and wild landscapes.
“Katse Dam is an incredible and unique paddling experience. It is like no other dam that I have ever paddled on before. It’s clear and cold waters reflect the surrounding terrain with magnificent clarity. Everything is on a grand scale. You are always looking up in awe as another huge mountain emerges from the depths of the lake. The grand ranges on either side of the lake envelop you as you snake your way along the old Malibamatso Valley and one feels quite insignificant in comparison.” Todd Clarke
For all those adrenaline junkies out there, Lesotho has a very special experience in store for you, a breathtaking/petrifying 40 minute long total adrenaline rush! It is abseiling at its best and most exciting and attracts many an international daredevil.
The Maletsunyane Falls are the venue for this daring feat and as far as waterfalls go, this is probably the most famous waterfall in the Mountain Kingdom. At a whopping 204 metres (669ft), it is the highest single-drop waterfall in Southern Africa and it holds the Guinness World Record for the highest commercially operated abseil in the world. That’s quite a resumé when you think about it.
Birding in Lesotho is one of the most sought after tourist attractions and will come as a fascinating and surprising entertainment for all the bird lovers, the best months for bird watching seem to be October to March.
The Lesotho Drakensberg and Maluti ranges are among the most sought after by bird watchers with “Sani Pass” ranking as one of the top ten birding spots in Southern Africa. With over 280 different varieties of birds recorded, you will be bowled out by the sheer variety and number of these colorful birds, some of which are endemic to Lesotho and are extremely rare.