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Ten reasons to like Lesotho

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Let’s celebrate.  We’re going through a ghastly coronavirus crisis.  But we should not forget that the world is wonderful.  I thought I would write in praise of several countries I’ve lived in.

Here are ten things to like about Lesotho, where I lived from 1964-70.  We didn’t have digital cameras back then, so the following photos are a mixture of old slides digitised by my brother Stephen, and pictures from trips I made back to Lesotho in 1980, 1988 and 2011.

1.  Lesotho is a mountain kingdom with beautiful scenery.  These are “The Three Bushmen” at the Sehlabathebe National Park in the east of the country, viewed through a rock arch (photo: RP).

Three Bushmen and Rock Arch

2.  Lesotho has what is said to be the highest pub in Africa, at the 2,876m summit of the Sani Pass.

The Highest Pub in Africa

Looking down the Sani Pass.  The guy is a Lesotho border policeman checking out the landslide that had just removed the road far below (photo: RP).

View of Sani Pass from above

3.  Lesotho is the only country in the world which lies entirely above 1,000m elevation – meaning it has the “highest lowest point” of any country.  The photo below shows our house at Roma in Lesotho in 1965, with snow further up the valley.  Roma lies at 1,610m above sea level.

Snow above Roma, Lesotho

4.  People in Lesotho traditionally wear blankets to keep them warm in the chilly winters.  This young man, pictured in 1980, is about to help clear the sheep off the airstrip at Semonkong, so that a plane can land (photo: RP).  Semonkong is the location of the awesome Meletsunyane Falls, of which I don’t have a good picture but Wikipedia does.

Shepherd boy in blanket at Semonkong airstrip

This man is crossing the Malibamatso river in 1988 (photo: RP).  The site was later submerged by the Highlands Water Project in the 1990s.

Man crossing Malibamatso river, 1988

5.  The mountains of Lesotho receive abundant rainfall.  This is the Tsoelikana waterfall at Sehlabathebe (photo: RP).

Tsoelikana waterfall at Sehlabathebe Lesotho

This is the Katse Dam of the Highland Water Project, pictured in 2011 (photo: RP).

Katse Dam, Highlands Water project, Lesotho

6.  If you like waterfalls, Lesotho is unbeatable.  Note the red hot poker plants in the foreground (photo: RP).

This is a waterfall on the Mountain Road in central Lesotho (photo: RP).

Waterfall, Mountain Road, Lesotho

7.  Lesotho has spectacular birds.  I think this is a malachite sunbird, but am happy to be corrected (photo: RP).

malachite sunbird, Sehlabathebe, Lesotho

And I think these are Cape weavers – anyone know for sure?  Photo: RP.

Cape weaver birds, Lesotho

8.  Women have traditionally played a powerful role in Basotho society.  Never mess with a Mosotho woman!  This picture is from 2011 (photo: RP).

Mosotho Women, Lesotho

This is a scene from the high mountains in 1980.  Photo: RP.

Mosotho Women, Thaba Bosiu

9.  If you like serious off-road driving, Lesotho has a lot to offer.  This picture is from 1980: I’ve got out to reduce the risk of the vehicle tipping over on a steep stretch of road (photo: HM).

The Land Rover made it (photo: HM).

The picture below shows the Sani Pass from below.  Unfortunately the pass had been closed by a landslide when we tried to drive up it in 2011.  I ended up walking to the pub at the top.  Photo: RP.

Rainbow at Sani Pass

This is the Koasa Pass, later replaced by the tar road to the Katse Dam (Photo: SDT)

Koasa Pass, Lesotho

10.  Lesotho was a wonderful place to grow up in the 1960s.  This is me (first left) with Stephen and friends Bernard and Reginald Tekateka.  Bernard (second left) tragically was killed in a car crash in 1978.  Reginald was later the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Bonn.

Bernard Tekateka, Reginald Tekateka, Stephen Turner, Leigh Turner

I hope to get back to Lesotho again sometime.  Photo: SDT.

If you like this piece, you should check out my other writing.  My two most recent books are: Seven Hotel Stories and Blood Summit.


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