When I first started planning my trip to Lesotho, I realised how few South Africans have actually been there before. I found it quite surprising as it is so easily accessible for us. But then again, here I am in my twenties and I just crossed the border for the first time a couple of weeks ago.
Although it took me this long to actually go and get the stamp in my passport, Lesotho has been at the top of my list for quite some time. My dad and brother were raving about the country for a while now and I really wanted to visit it before I take on my new adventure to Japan.
So when my friend asked me if I would be interested in going with her, it was a no-brainer. A few weeks after we mentioned Lesotho for the first time I was on a bus travelling from Cape Town to Bloemfontein. It was a long journey but if you’re travelling on a budget it’s all part of the experience. I met up with my friend in Bloem and off we went to explore what lies beyond the border.
Lesotho is nothing like I expected but everything I could’ve hope for. I still dream about it today and that’s why I felt I just had to share my favourite moments with you – maybe this will inspire you to go explore what this country has to offer.
Overnight hike to Ketane village
I’ve been on a few hikes and I have to admit that this hike is now definitely in my top 3! Not only because it was unbelievably beautiful but also because it was such a different and interesting experience.
You start the hike early in the morning from Semonkong Lodge and you end at Ketane village. This is where you call home for the night before you head back to Semonkong the following day.
It took us about a full day to reach the village. I wasn’t really prepared for the up, down, up, down, up route that we had to take but it was worth all the suffering. Every time I looked up, I was blown away by the green mountains and endless waterfalls surrounding us. If I had to describe what I think heaven looks like, it will look like that.
A lot of confused locals stopped to ask us where we were heading, I guess it’s not all that common for two girls and a guide with a packhorse carrying all of our bags to be roaming around the mountains. I felt a little badass, I won’t lie.
The unreal scenery was only one part of what made this hike so special. What really captivated me was how welcome I felt. Everyone was extremely friendly and went out of their way to make our experience as good as it could possibly be.
The highlight of this hike was definitely Ketane Falls. You hear the thunder of the waterfall as the water gushes down. It was so powerful and strong. I was in complete disbelief. This is why I love being in nature. Because of moments where you are completely caught off guard. Every drop of sweat and every kilometre that I walked those two days were worth it.
Donkey Pub Crawl
Yes, you read that right – donkey pub crawl. I mean where else in the world can you pub crawl on a donkey’s back? Nowhere! This is something you can only do in Lesotho and let me tell you, this is something you cannot miss! So if hiking and mountains aren’t your thing then this will definitely be.
It is such a unique way to get to know the village and to see the pubs where the locals hang out. Their beers are also double the size for half the price!
I’ll let you in on a little secret – after a couple of beers it becomes quite the challenge to get and to stay on top of the donkey (especially if your donkey has a sassy baby that keeps running into its mom). But I’m also happy to tell you all that I managed to ride the donkey without falling once.
The reason why we decided to stay at Semonkong Lodge in the first place was because we wanted to do the abseiling down Maletsunyane Falls. Unfortunately it rained for two days straight so by the time we had to leave the water level was too high and it was too dangerous for abseiling.
We were very disappointed that we couldn’t do it but we weren’t going to leave Lesotho without going to this waterfall and seeing it with our own eyes.
It was supposed to be a quick hike but everything was very muddy from the rain. We were sliding on the road, getting stuck in mud puddles and we were sopping wet from the rain pouring down. I’ll admit that at that stage I wasn’t in the best mood. I just wanted to get to the waterfall without struggling through the mud.
It took us longer than we expected but, my oh my, was it worth it. Never in my life have I ever seen something that beautiful.
I had tears in my eyes. I saw pictures of the waterfall hanging at the lodge but not one picture showed it the way we saw it. That’s when I knew how lucky we were.
Semonkong means ‘place of smoke’ and it’s named after this waterfall. The water gushes down in such a strong force that it creates a smoke-like atmosphere. It was beautiful. It was so extraordinary that I don’t think there is a word in any language that could describe what I felt when I saw it.
It also made me realise that we should never let the weather stop us from doing something. Because if that wasn’t our last day we probably wouldn’t have attempted the hike in the rain, yet it was the rain that created the image that made us cry.
Lesotho has so much to offer that a week wasn’t even close to enough time. The locals are eager to teach you about their culture, about the meaning of the blankets that they wrap themselves in. They want us to learn about their way of living the same way the want to learn about ours.
Lesotho will definitely see me again. I will abseil down that waterfall. I will hike every hiking trail that there is to hike. I will lose myself in the mountains because that is where I feel most alive.
Don’t underrate Lesotho. It is nothing short of pure magic.