Ambling, scrambling, trailing, hiking, hill-walking, traversing, bush-whacking... Think of a trekking term and you can do it in Lesotho. Remember one thing though: this little kingdom in the sky is officially the country with the most peaks per square kilometre in Africa, so prepare to venture into thin air.
With Thabana-Ntlenyana at 3 482 metres the highest peak in southern Africa, it is easy to see why the climbing fraternity regularly ascends into Lesotho to explore the serene magic of its peaks. Intimidating cliffs, sheer chimneys and spectacular ridges offer awe-inspiring climbs, but should not be attempted by inexperienced climbers without local knowledge.
If you’re not keen on the border-crossing thing, opt for the far northern corner of the Eastern Cape. The rugged Wartrail and New England regions, in the vicinity of Tiffindell Ski Resort, are characterised by the soaring buttresses of the southern Drakensberg etched against a cobalt sky. Fast-flowing mountain streams on both sides of the border teem with wild trout, allowing you to combine a mountaineering getaway with fishing in highland heaven.
Go budget by camping in Lesotho (from as little as R40 per person per day), or break the bank at any number of luxury lodges in the southern Drakensberg, where accommodation can cost anything up to R1 000 a day. Self-catering options, especially in the Wartrail and New England area, offer excellent value – Reedsdell Guest Farm (Tel. 045 / 974 9900) comes recommended.
There is a small airstrip at Wartrail, but you’d need to phone one of the farmers to chase the cattle off the landing strip first. A drive to Maseru, Rhodes or Tiffindell is a long trek from anywhere in SA, and many of the roads in Lesotho and the remote north of the Eastern Cape require a sturdy vehicle or 4x4.
In Your Gear Box:
Boots: Go for breathable, waterproof Gore-Tex uppers, a rugged outsole and aggressive tread.
Trekking Poles: Big on balance, plus transfers weight from your legs to shoulders & upper body.
Shelter: A good quality, four-season tent is a must if you’re heading into high-altitude territory.
Wrist-top GPS: Bang a Garmin ForeRunner GPS onto your arm to check out altitude, temperature, barometric pressure and direction.
Marked hiking trails are few and far between, but easy-to-follow footpaths and a lack of fences means it’s a cinch to plan a route if you pack a 1:50 000 topographical map. Unpredictable weather conditions and the remoteness of many areas make the carrying of emergency rations and equipment a must, so pack a compass, torch, whistle, flares, warm clothing and a raincoat.
Lesotho Tourism - www.golesotho.co.za
Lesotho (Local operator) - www.seelesotho.com
Lesotho Tourism Development - www.visitlesotho.travel
Wartrail & New England Tourism - www.wartrail.co.za
Reedsdell Guest Farm - www.snowvalley.co.za
Rhodes Village - www.rhodesvillage.co.za