Bike Touring Lesotho (part 1): Lesotho, Sesotho, Basotho

Bikepacking across the tiny ‘Mountain Kingdom’ of Lesotho was one of the most anticipated passages of our current tour. It didn’t fall short of expectations…

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From the bustling South Africa coastal town of Port Elizabeth we hopped a bus and overnighted directly North to the border city and capital of the tiny landlocked country of Lesotho. From Maseru we began a eleven day journey across the ‘Kingdom of The Sky’.

Lesotho is an extremely small country completely surrounded by South Africa. One would think that Lesotho would be a miniature replicate of its surrounding giant, but that is not at all the case. Upon crossing the border we immediately felt as if we had entered a different Africa. The English language no longer gets us very far, poverty is far more evident, and, when in public, we are definitely quite the spectacle.

About half of our trek across the country was on the tarred central road that careens over the mountains and crosses massive passes with names such as God Help Me. The other half of our time was spent on an extremely rugged dirt road odyssey through a remote mountainous portion of the country that culminated with a 5,000 ft descent down the legendary Sani Pass. Here are details and photos from the first half of the passage (stay tuned for part 2 which I will preface as one of the most magical rides of my touring career):

Bike Touring Lesotho

Yeti sighted at the border assembling bikes. Unfortunately the bus companies in South Africa require bikes to be boxed for transport.

Bike Touring Lesotho - Surly ECR

A couple of helpers.

Bike Touring Lesotho - Bird

This guy kept staring at me at a Maseru backpackers (hostel) where we stayed.

Bike Touring Lesotho - Tumi's Bike Shop, Maseru

Tumi’s: Sister company of Mike’s Bikes.

Bike Touring Lesotho - Bike Shop, Maseru

Tumi’s was made from a couple of discarded shipping containers.

Bike Touring Lesotho - Bike Shop

Tumi himself. Thanks for finding a welder to repair my Salsa Anything cage; c’mon Salsa, where is version 2???

Bike Touring Lesotho - Donkey

Carrying building materials.

Bike Touring Lesotho - Donkey

Baby twinky.

Bike Touring Lesotho - Horse

And, a man riding a Besotho pony, the most common transport in Basotho (people of Lesotho) villages.

Bike Touring Lesotho - Horse


Bike Touring Lesotho - Pony

Ponies, as they are called, are just small horses.

Bike Touring Lesotho - Tracks

Animal tracks make fine single track.

Bike Touring Lesotho - Village

A typical Lesotho village with stone rondovals.

Semonkong Falls

The Maletsunyane Falls at Semonkong – one of the highest single dropping falls in Africa.

Semonkong falls

Another view of the mammoth canyon.

Besotho Children

Two Basotho shepherds. Basotho people speak Sesotho, which sounds like Lesotho, and Basotho.

Lesotho Shepard

Another shepherd against the vivid green landscape.

Lesotho Horseman

Basotho pony.

Spiral Aloe

A Spiral Aloe, I think.

Maluti Beer

Maluti Beer, pride of Lesotho.

Lesotho - Baby Horse

Baby pony… not sure what you call that.
Lesotho - Man

Bike Touring Lesotho

Our rondoval in Roma.

Surly Troll - Ortlieb Panniers

Gin’s bike got a few gear changes including a new rack and panniers (from Grant at, a tubeless 2.2 Continental X King and a Specialized saddle we found at a shop in P.E.

Bike Touring Lesotho

Cresting our first pass… Bushmen Pass. Lesotho is the is the only independent state in the world to lie entirely 1,000 meters 3,281 ft) in elevation. Over eighty percent of the country lies above 1,800 meters (5,906 ft.)

Lesotho Man

A gentleman I met harvesting grass on the mountain for roofing.

Lesotho Shepards

Two shepherds with a DIY banjo.

Bike outing Lesotho

Gin (bottom left) cruising down from Bushmen Pass into a village.

God Help Me Pass


Lesotho - Blue Mountain Pass

Running from storms at Blue Mountain Pass.

Lesotho -Mountains

Not sure what range that was, but I wanted to get closer.

Bike Touring Lesotho

A long descent into Likalaneng.

Bike Touring Lesotho

Share the road.

Bike Touring Lesotho

Huge unnamed mountain pass.

Bike Touring Lesotho

Not sure what this means.

Bike Touring Lesotho

Many shades of green in the mosaic of fields.
Lesotho Shepard


These folks were singing, and I think they may have been singing to us.


The hills have eyes here, note the silhouette of the man on the right.

Lesotho Shepard

Lesotho Children

Lesotho Children

Bike Touring Lesotho

These children chased Gin for about a kilometer.
Bike Touring Lesotho

An inventive young man and his car, complete with a steering column.

Bike Touring Lesotho

The Pass of Jackals.

Lesotho Shepard

Bike Touring Lesotho

We were there a little while ago.

Bike Touring Lesotho

Bike Touring Lesotho

Bike Touring Lesotho

Bike Touring Lesotho

Descent into Thaba Tseka.

Bike Touring Lesotho

Still going down… Gin on left.

Leotho Shepherd

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