I am on a quest to visit every country in the world. My “first pass” through the world will often include more limited visits — sometimes just hours — but my goal is to experience a taste of life in every nation. Channeling the spirit of The Road More Traveled, I took a day in Johannesburg to make a 9-hour roundtrip journey by car to Maseru, Lesotho.
Lesotho, like Swaziland, is a landlocked country encircled by South Africa. Formerly known as Basutoland, it declared independence from the United Kingdom in 1966. Unlike the corrupt king of Swaziland, Lesotho has a constitutional monarchy style of government in which King Letsie III merely plays a ceremonial role. 40% of the country lives on less than $1.25/day and child labor is a huge problem.
Johanneburg to Maseru on N1
Driving from from the Hyatt in Johannesburg to the capital city of Maseru, thankfully just over the border, would be an all-day affair. Highways are generally well-maintained in South Africa and I would take N1 for most of the journey south, 424km in total. There were several (moderately-priced) toll booths through the journey.
I left around 8am and made good time going down, with almost no traffic for the entire journey to Lesotho. The morning weather was beautiful: puffy clouds, blue skies, and moderate temperatures. There really is not much to see. Lots of rolling yellow fields and hills, dotted by the occasional village or cattle grazing:
As I approached Maseru, I drove by a picturesque mountain, through it has nothing on Table Mountain in Cape Town.
Arrival into Maseru, Lesotho
At around 1pm I arrived into Maseru. Just because it landlocked does not mean it is any less a sovereign nation. Border formalities are required and I first stamped out of South Africa before stamping into Lesotho.
Just past the border post is central Maseru, which honestly looks like a mid-sized South African city. In the city center is this–
Which also happens to appear on the flag of Lesotho. This is a mokorotlo or traditional Basotho straw hat that is the symbol of Lesotho.
I had some lunch and then tried to mail a stack of postcards at the central post office, but failed. Lesotho uses the South African post for international deliveries so with the ongoing postal strike, there was no strike. Interestingly, the man at the desk was happy to sell me stamps and take my postcards. It was not until I asked him about the postal strike that he confirmed my postcard would probably sit for months undelivered.
The Drive Back
By 3pm I was stamped out and on the road back to Johannesburg.
The weather was still beautiful leaving Lesotho.
But about an hour north, clouds billowed in and soon a great thunderstorm began. That slowed down the return even further. At least the car had Bluetooth so I could listen to music. Here are a couple videos I took during the drive back:
Sorry for the poor quality — I was just using my old iPhone!
I finally made it back to Johannesburg just before 8pm. My 12-hour day was over.
Yes, it was a long drive for a short stay. But it was very much worthwhile. If I had all the time in the world I would have spent a few nights in Lesotho. Beyond Maseru is great beauty and nature. Yet I was thankful for at least the taste I received of another country.
Read More of My Month in Africa Trip Report
Introduction: A Month in Africa
Review: Houston to Lagos in United Airlines 787 Business
Transit in Lagos: Bribing My Way Out
Review: Oasis Lounge Lagos (LOS)
Review: Gabfol Lounge Lagos (LOS)
Lagos to Johannesburg in South African Airways Economy Class
Setting Up Shop in Pretoria
How to Obtain a South African Police Report
A Safari in Kruger National Park
Review: Nkambeni Safari Camp
Driving Through Swaziland
Review: Mountain Inn Mbabane, Swaziland
Review: Johannesburg to Livingstone, Zambia in British Airways Comair Economy Class
Our Humble Abode in Zambia
Victoria Falls from the Zambian Side
From Hate to Great: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
The Old House Guest Lodge – Kasane, Botswana
A Visit to Impalila Island, Namibia
Kasane, Botswana to Johannesburg on South African Airways (Airlink)
Review: Hyatt Regency Johannesburg (Suite)
Review: South African Airways Domestic Voyager Lounge – JNB