Lesotho, or as it is officially known, the Kingdom of Lesotho, is a small, landlocked country that is totally surrounded by South Africa. At just over 11,583 square miles in area, it is roughly the size of Maryland, with a population of slightly more than 2 million people. The largest city and capital of Lesotho is Maseru. The name Lesotho roughly translates into “the land of the people who speak Sesotho” and was formerly known as Basutoland.
The geography of the country is quite mountainous, making it a perfect destination for those who love to hike, climb, or just generally enjoy all that nature has to offer. There are numerous destinations in Lesotho where one can take in the beautiful scenery, view the unique flora and fauna, or just relax and let the world go by. Though not home to many of the species for which the rest of Africa is famous, Lesotho has its share of wildlife as well as many wonderful areas for eco-tourism. One such area is the Maluti Mountains, which is home to a wide variety of birds and small mammal, unique flora, and the Tse’hlanyane National Park.
Tse’hlanyane National park can be found well into the Maluti Mountain’s front range,
with the headquarters being located at the foot of Holomo Pass. The origin of the reserve can be credited to the Lesotho Highlands Water Project and the park lies on the junction of the Holomo and Tse’hlanyane Rivers. More than 5,600 hectares of rugged, mountainous terrain lies protected within the park and one of the few indigenous woodlands of Lesotho can be found here. Many of the undergrowth plants of the forest are very rare and can be found only in this particular woodland habitat. mGrowing along the banks of mountain stream, strands of berg bamboo can be seen, which have cultural significance to the Basotho people. An entomologist’s dream, the bamboo serves as a host plant for the Bamboo Sylph, a species of endangered butterfly. There are birds in plentiful numbers as well. Among the species that are often seen here are the Bearded Vulture, Lanner Falcon, Malachite Sunbird, and the Drakensberg Rockjumper. Other animals that can be seen in the park are the Cape Clawless Otter, Caracal, Black-backed Jackal, and the Common Eland.
While you won’t see the big cats that can be found elsewhere, Lesotho offers many animals that are found only in this unique, Alpine habitat. A trip to Lesotho, while more sedate than some other areas of Africa, will let you experience true native culture without the bells and whistles are so common in the more traveled areas of the continent.