Where is this country within a country ....... right on my doorstep within our borders of South Africa are the two landlocked countries of Lesotho and Swaziland.
Today we visited Lesotho and today was going to be the day that my fiancé (now husband) got his first ever stamp in his passport. To commemorate the achievement, we where joined by my long time friend Joe and he boyfriend Niel. (Joe and I have travelled in Asia together many many years ago and Niel at that time was her boyfriend).
We met our driver/guide for the day and soon after signing of the indemnity and having checked our passports, we started the drive up Sani Pass which would eventually get us into Lesotho.
As we drove, the terrain changed and after a while we where making our way up Sani Pass. About half way to up the pass, we reached the border post. We hopped off the car and stamped out of South Africa. Oddly enough we didn’t get our stamp for arrival into Lesotho until after driving for a further few kms.
The roads where fascinating, with the sharpest of bends on gravel and bumps all along the way, but we finally reached. The view pretty much makes up for the rough ride up the mountain.
Once we got off the vehicle we were met with an icy cold breeze which we were told was always present in the highlands. After our brief stop we continued along the highlands of Lesotho to one of the local villages where we met a local family who welcomed us into their home, which is a hut made of water, sand, sticks and stone. Inside was dark but refreshingly warm.
We spent some time with the family, listening to their stories and sharing some bread with them (I assume it is an arrangement with the guides that for a small fee they will have fresh bread available for people coming in for the day. It was totally worth it though). The bread itself is baked in a cast iron pot in the ground under a small fire. Believe it of not, but the bread was so delicious. The only thing missing for me would have been some butter and a knife!
We continued or drive and headed to the capital of Lesotho which is Maseru. Maseru is in what is known as the low lands. The city itself is quiet developed, but the buildings are still in need of some tending. We made a stop for lunch at a “hotel” which could clearly be confused for an abandoned building in the middle of town! But to be polite, we ordered something to drink and some toasted sandwiches.
After lunch we continued on a driving tour of Maseru and out of nowhere Joe and Ash insist that we just have to stop at the local hospital. (Joe was at that stage a med student). Our driver was rather confused, but he obliged and he dropped us off at the entrance of the hospital. We strolled past the security guard and straight into the wards, just to have a look around. Joe was rather impressed with what the hospital had to offer… I just wanted to get out of there.
We got back into the car only to find a rather amused driver who just chuckled at our clear-cut madness. Nonetheless, at least we can say we went into a hospital in Lesotho and it wasn’t at all what we expected.
We arrived at the Highest Pub in Africa in time for an afternoon drink and some time to take some photos and soak in the view, before heading back down the pass to get home in time for dinner.
All in all it was a day well spent. Not only did it give Joe and I a chance to catch up and introduce the boys, but it got my love his first stamp as well as ignited his thrill for traveling.
If I could do something different.... I would probably turn this into an overnight trip so we could enjoy a bit more of what Lesotho has to offer.