2 Nights at Malealea Lodge in Lesotho
During our African Tour, we spent 2 nights in the Malealea Lodge in Lesotho. It’s right outside the main town and has everything you need inside it’s own little compound!
The lodge has both camping facilities and traditional Mud Huts for you to sleep in. We opted to upgrade our camping to a Mud Hut for 200 RAND/£10 per person per night. We’d been told that Lesotho can get VERY cold at night (and we were fed up of camping!) so it sounded like a good plan. It seemed like we lucked out with the weather though because we had two full days of sun when we were there! (end of September time).
When we were driving through Lesotho, especially in a swaggy, kitted out overland truck, we got a lot of attention. Our truck stood out amongst the steel shacks, huts and tents at the side of the road. The kingdom is heavily dependent on South Africa for the big bucks so they aren’t exactly rolling in the dollar. Don’t let this impression fool you though, every local we met was absolutely lovely and authentically friendly.
We arrived late afternoon so between unpacking our truck, setting up the group’s tents and having dinner, we didn’t have much time to do activities! We decided to use the onsite kitchen and prepare our spicy chicken veg dish right on the campsite. It was handy because we literally ate, then crawled into our Mud Hut for some well earned shut-eye! The beds were comfy and a top sheet was provided. We slept inside our sleeping bags for extra warmth and some protection against any wandering bugs that might fall from the thatched roof! There is a light in the room but no charging points - you can use the kitchen or the main lodge area to ge some juice.
Malealea Lodge offer a few tours and activities. Prices and tours on offer might have changed so it’s worth checking with the lodge before you go.
I’d recommend getting a Tour Guide for any hikes you do. They know the environment and they can tell you all the good stuff that you can reiterate to your fam in your “on my Gap Yah this happened” slideshow.
The prices are in South African Rand (RND) and the Pony trekking can cost more depending on how many pack ponies you need.
Malealea also offer overnight tours and activities but we didn’t take part in any of them since we only had 2 days! Unfortunately, Malealea was the best place for us to catch up on our laundry so we had to spend the morning doing chores instead of hiking! We’re not keen on riding animals so we didn’t book the pony trek but we did manage to book the Bushman’s Hike for the afternoon though, which was a hike and a half...
You can book activities from Reception any time after 9am and before 5pm. You pay for it after your hike is complete and the tips for the guides are not included (we gave 20-25 rand each to our tour guide). Luckily, we were travelling as a group so we all booked onto the same tour so that the guide only had to go out once!
THE VILLAGE, SCHOOL & MUSEUM
The other two girls we were with woke up early (no chance of that with us!) and explored the Village and the Museum. The School wasn’t open since it was a Sunday but they still managed to see a few kids playing around the area. Their tour guide didn’t stop speaking the whole way through and even took them to see his house and his family to see how they live. They enjoyed their visit to the museum too and learned a few things about Lesotho and it’s people. We were too busy hanging out our pants to join them but they gave us the low-down once they got back.
THE BUSHMAN’S PAINTINGS
The Bushman’s Paintings are a must-do if you’re at Malealea Lodge. It was everything I love - hiking, history and beauuuutiful landscapes. The hike was tough and I’d like to put that down to the higher altitude but it was probably all the snacks I’ve had instead... I wore some cheap Primark trainers for the hike and I was fine so you don’t need to be kitted out with hiking boots or tear of shorts or anything like that. A fear of heights might be a deal breaker though. Just before you get to the paintings, the path narrows and you have to squeeze round while you’re on the edge. It’s nothing terrifying but I’m confused as to how to Ponies would get round that?! Maybe they can scale the rock like those salt-licking goats you see on facebook.
Anyway, the history behind the paintings is incredible. The earliest one dates back to 2700 years ago and the latest one is around 400 years ago. They are really well preserved, which is partly due to the bushmen mixing animal blood with the gooey sap of a plant to make the paint. The bushmen lived a simple life of making sure they had food and shelter so they can be happy. When they kept killing the agricultural animals for food, the locals didn’t appreciate it and drove them out to Botswana, Namibia etc. I won’t geek out about the history and tell you everything because I need to leave something to the tour guide!
We stayed in the bottom campsite. There were around 5 mud huts down at the “Oak Tree Village” and some grassy area for pitching a tent. We had our own kitchen facilities with a fridge and charging points for all our gadgets. The lodge runs on solar energy so they turn off the electricity to the campsite at around 10pm before switching it back on at around 7am. The timings probably depend on how much power they have etc, as when we were there, they didn’t switch on the external power until 5pm! The main building always has power so you can charge, use the paid-for WiFi and get coffee there. Luckily, the showers are heated using a gas boiler so you can still get a warm shower (with your touch!).
The WiFi is pay-as-you-go and is super quick. Not fibre-speeds but fast enough to stream videos and upload pics. The coverage doesn’t reach the campsite but they have a coffee shop and bar area for you to chill and pull out your laptop.
Although we only had limited time there, we enjoyed our stay at Malealea Lodge. We like the experience of staying in the mud huts and the daily choir (at the bar area from about 5-6pm) were amazing to listen to.
It was my first taste of life outside of South Africa and I’d definitely go back!
Find out more about the lodge here: http://malealea.com/
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