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Lesotho

© Jennifer Stern© Jennifer SternThe scenery in this high-lying kingdom is dramatic. High mountains surround you in every direction – sometimes dry and austere, and sometimes bright green, interspersed with colourful flowers. In winter, the tops are almost always snow-covered, and the skiing is not bad at all. Isolated settlements deep in the valley are connected by rudimentary roads or bridle paths. The fly fishing is great, and this is a wonderful place to explore on foot, by bike (motorised or pedal), by four-wheel-drive or on horseback, riding the legendary tough and tractable Basotho ponies along narrow and somewhat vertiginous mountain paths, and spending the nights in isolated villages. Most of the people live in scattered settlements in the valleys between the mountains, and they welcome hikers and pony trekkers to their villages. In fact, on multi-day trails, most accommodation is with local villagers, so it is as much a cultural experience as an adventurous one. And there are some wonderful craft workshops and retail outlets. While there is no really big game, like lions and elephants, in Lesotho, there is a good chance of seeing eland (the largest antelope in Africa), small mammals and loads of birds. And – the highest commercial abseil in the world is in Lesotho. Honest – certified by the Guinness Book of Records. You just have to tick this one off. Lesotho lies entirely within South Africa's borders, and has a very undeveloped infrastructure. There is only one city, with a number of small towns scattered around, and one very tiny airport. Deep within the mountains are few great guest houses, all of which are wonderful bases from which to hike, ride or drive into the purple distance.



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