A long drive through Lesotho

Before entering Lesotho, we were unsure of the actual road conditions in the country since we had heard a lot about the very bad roads and more often than not the need for a 4×4. We couldn’t find a clear answer to this question, with partially contradicting reports. Finally, we decided to see for ourselves. We entered Lesotho from Ficksburg on the South African side and Mats’oaneng – what seemed more like a buzzing bazar than a town – on the Lesotho side.

We made our way towards the more central, rural Lesotho and the Katse Water Reservoir.

On the way we crossed a magnificent mountain pass that took us up to just above 3000 metres and provided a magnificent view over the mountains and into to valley that we just came from.

As we approached the water reservoir it became very much clear that the country is in a big drougth crisis. Most of the hills are bone dry, many fields don’t have any crops planted on them and the water reservoir itself seemed very depleted (a lot of Lesotho’s water is actully sold to South Africa and not used within the country).

For the first part, all roads were in marvellous conditions and took us to through very nice countryside and interesting villages. Most probably this road has been part of the Katse Dam investments to create the water reservoir since right after the dam, the nice tarmac quickly turned into a dirt track. 

After at least two hours and thousands turns on the winding dirt road we finally reached the main East-West (paved) highway in Lesotho (A3). Happily, we set out towards the capital Maseru. This happiness about the nice tarmack road, the little traffic and the stunning scenery held for a long time. However, after the 3137th turn and the 83rd mountain pass and with still no end in sight (the ~180km on this road took us probably 4 hours) our mood was close to insanity as we stoically followed turn after turn after turn after turn….

Night had already fallen before we reached Maseru and all that was left was to find a hotel and some dinner before sleep quickly took over.

The next day, we took to the road again, this time in the flatlands towards the south of Lesotho with – luckily – very few turns in the road! All of it was mostly good tarmac road except for a few kilometres before and after the border:

As we left Lesotho we were sent to “Go in peace” and so we did (see blue sign on the left above).

All in all it was a very brief encounter with this very beautiful but unfortunately quite poor country nestled within South Africa.