Semonkong: Off the Beaten Path in Lesotho
I had been in Lesotho for maybe a week before my boss thrust an “Adventurer’s Guide to the Mountain Kingdom” brochure in my hand and told me I just had to go to Semonkong.
For now, I’ll spare you the details about what a sleepy town Maseru is, but let’s just say it pretty much clears out on the weekends, emptying the majority of the expat community into neighboring South African towns of Ladybrand, Clarens, and Bloemfontein and lesser known parts of Lesotho. When a friend asked me to join a last minute about a trip to Semonkong Lodge, I quickly said yes.
Semonkong Lodge is great not only because of the sheer natural beauty of the location, but because the hosts are also fantastic. They have a small and very homey cafe called The Duck and Donkey that serves great sandwiches, entrees, and of course booze. They do have some vegetarian options as well – something I’ve yet to come across at too many places I’ve visited. We were with a group of 10, a mix of couples and non-couples, so the couples took double rondavels and the rest of us took the dorms at the top of the hill that had a self-serve kitchen area. We loaded up on groceries (and beer) before we left Maseru so we could have a huge braai (South African word for barbecue) later on in the evening.
There is plenty to do in Semonkong – fishing, dirt biking, hiking, 4×4 treks, cultural tours, rock climbing, horse back riding, and more.
We left Maseru around 11 am for the two-hour drive to Semonkong. Up until about a year ago, the drive would have taken nearly twice that time. The road was paved sometime last year, bringing substantial tourism to the area. There is plenty to do in Semonkong – fishing, dirt biking, hiking, 4×4 treks, cultural tours, rock climbing, horse back riding, and more. Two activities, however, seemed the most intriguing.
The Maletsunyane Abseil holds the Guinness World Record for the longest commercially operated single-drop abseil in the world, and it’s right at Semonkong Lodge! It’s a 204 meter (670 feet) drop, and a few of the guys in our group had done the abseiling and said that anyone who visits Semonkong absolutely must try it. Since the weather wasn’t great and it was fall there (and quite cold, despite being in Southern Africa), we all opted out this time but made plans to return in early spring (September) when the weather would be warmer.
The other, less adventurous albeit equally fun activity is the infamous donkey pub crawl. What exactly is a donkey pub crawl, you’re asking yourself? I’ll just let you experience it for yourself!
Photo for Semonkong: Off the Beaten Path in Lesotho by Unsplash.