Skiing in Africa – No you’re not dreaming

Lesotho may not pop up on many people’s radar as the most obvious ski destination. Africa, is after all synonymous with the big five and open savannahs, not snow capped mountains. However, as the only country in the world that lies completely above 1,000m and with more peaks per square kilometre than any other African country, Lesotho is indeed blessed with fantastic topography. Does it get snow you ask? Yes it does, sometimes even year round on the very highest peaks.

Skiing is now one of the main tourist attractions for Lesotho, seeing thousands of enthusiasts streaming in from surrounding South Africa. Lesotho has only recently started to develop its commercial skiing and snowboarding, even though the first ski club (Club Maluti) was founded as far back as 1968, when the first hut was built in the northern Lesotho highlands.

Heavy Snow in Lesotho

Heavy Snow in Lesotho - Nasa images

Ski track demonstration
Unfortunately, there is no way of guaranteeing the presence of snow. The best time to go is over the winter months between June and August. But snow or no snow, the Lesotho terrain is beautiful and the mountain walks will take your breath away.

The easiest route to Lesotho is a flight from Johannesburg (JNB) to Moshoeshoe International Airport (MSU) in Maseru. However the are numerous border entry ports and the road network within Lesotho is not as bad as one would think from one of the poorest countries in the world, as most of the major roads are tarred.

The main areas for skiing in Lesotho are the ranges of the Maluti and Oxbow mountains. The snow on the slopes is often not extensively packed and can be icy depending on conditions. It is advisable to get a few lessons if your skiing is not proficient.

Moteng Pass on the way to Afri-Ski, Lesotho

Photo by 1NiteOwl

Afri-Ski Leisure Kingdom is a relatively new purpose built resort developed with skiing and snowboarding in mind. Afri-Ski offers some amazing skiing and snowboarding opportunities. There are three slopes and two ski lifts, while several alternative activities are on hand in the summer months. Don’t worry about the possibility of snow, as Afri-Ski manufactures enough to ensure both skiers and snowboarders The resort stretches across more than 1,000 acres.

Quiknow Afri-Ski 2010, Lesotho

Photo by Barry Tuck

The Oxbow Lodge is the oldest resort in the country. Even though the resort has only one lift and one slope which is open to skiers and snowboarders, it is still very much worth the trip and has a healthy vertical of over 2,000 feet. If you don’t have your own ski equipment you can hire from the Oxbow Lodge but they have limited stock.

Another extremely small resort just beside Oxbow is Club Maluti. Founder members negotiated with local chiefs to obtain the right to the land. The club is constrained by certain legalities which were imposed when the club was established and are only allowed to accommodate members and not function as a hotel.

Many skiing enthusiasts are constantly looking for a new skiing destination. For an adventure that is unique and exciting, Lesotho is just the right destination with the beauty of Africa at your fingertips and clear skies overhead. An unforgettable holiday awaits you in the mountains of Lesotho.

A snowboarder at Afri-Ski, Lesotho

Photo courtesy of Afri-Ski

What does the future have in store for Lesotho? How about a Ski Trac? Move over Dubai, as part of a government initiative to increase tourism in that country Lesotho is pushing to become the world’s first SkiTrac.  Year round skiing may become a reality for visitors to the mountain kingdom.

SOUTH AFRICA – A Ski Trac and Space Dome will be built in the highlands of Lesotho as part of a government initiative to increase tourism in that country. A major ski resort is planned near Sani Top, the highest points of the range, the Ski Trac extending the season from three months to a year-round attraction. This resort will be tilted towards the high end of the resort market, making the most of its clear air health benefits, lakes, 5/6 star hotels, golf courses, mountain walks, panning for diamonds, walking tracks into the nearby conseravtion area, and much more. A push is under way to make this the world’s first Ski Trac.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W26bdct5koE&NR=1

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