The Basotho people are the natural fathers of the landlocked Lesotho mountain kingdom. Their land once embraced the rolling farmlands of South Africa’s Free State province. But later this fell into the hands of settler-farmers. After they surrendered their ancestral lands, they retreated into the mountain fastness. There they use Basuto ponies to travel long distances between villages and towns.
Country Music Lesotho Style
The small, confident horses – pony is a misnomer – descend from the original four horses the Dutch introduced to Cape Town in 1653. Their exact breed remains a mystery. Although it is possible they were Java Ponies as the Dutch also had interests there. The Basotho captured their descendants as spoils of war. Then they developed them into sure-footed mounts displaying great courage and stamina.
The noble animals faced near extinction during the Boer Wars, where they were ideally suited for sudden skirmishes. Thanks to a concerted effort, their numbers are increasing. This provides the industrious Basotho with a ready-made tourist magnet in the form of pony trekking with a guide. And sometimes over-nighting in remote places and sharing wholesome, healthy country life with friendly Lesotho people.
Remote Basotho Mountain Village
A typical pony trek might depart from a South Africa town like Clarens after overnighting in a small hotel. It would cross into Lesotho at a tiny border post. And then travel across steep hillsides to a traditional village that welcomes them with tasty native food and warm beds at night.
There will ample time for exploring plant and birdlife on foot and, if riders wish, scrambling down to rocky pools. There to enjoy the deafening silence of the mountain crags while relaxing in unspoiled nature.
Pony Trekking in the Lesotho Mountain Kingdom
Lesotho’s mountainous environment ensures it remains relatively cool throughout the year. Although the mercury reaches 30 °C (86 °F) in summer. Snow is common between May and September when it can be a chilly −18 °C (0 °F) at high altitudes. Visitors either enter from South Africa by car. Alternatively they could fly to Moshoeshoe I International Airport from Johannesburg’s O R Tambo Airport by Airlink ot Maluti Sky. The main roads in Lesotho are in good condition not unlike the minor ones in Europe.