When we found out we would be arriving in Lesotho in July, one of the first things we thought about was how to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. We knew that we wanted to stay in Lesotho and take the opportunity to really get out of Maseru and see the country for a weekend so we had a look around and instantly fell in love with Maliba Mountain Lodge in the mountains.
Maliba (pronounced Ma-dee-ba) is far and away the most luxurious accommodation option in Lesotho and we felt that a ten year splurge was merited! It is nestled up in the Maluti Mountains right on the border of the Leribe and Butha Buthe provinces. A joint venture between two Aussies and a Mosotho, it sits just inside the boundary of Ts’ehlanyane National Park, the largest national park in Lesotho.
Maliba Mountain Lodge is comprised of a main lodge and six chalets that are built in traditional rondavel style, complete with thatched roofs. The decor is lovely and each chalet has wonderful amenities such as a big tub, fireplace and electric blankets. The real draw however is the view. You step out of the chalet onto your patio and are confronted with soaring mountains in all directions! It is a landscape that completely overwhelms – with some of the peaks soaring between 800 and 1000 meters above the lodge.
As if that weren’t enough, you can walk down to your own private deck and have the same views, but from a different perspective. The deck is also a fabulous place to view the stars, which come out in their thousands, as well as the Milky Way. Neither of us could remember the last time we saw such a star-studded sky!
The setting is a truly natural atmosphere with several small rivers cutting through the valleys and the sounds of trickling water and birds chirping. In the mornings we enjoyed listening to the chatter of the local Cape White-eyes and one afternoon we were lucky to spot the park’s resident herd of about 16 eland. In between relaxing by the fire, visiting the local community (more on that soon) and enjoying the view from our chalet, we took advantage of several hiking trails throughout the weekend that offered stunning views and quite a workout – especially for lungs not used to elevations of 2000+ meters!
With that in mind, one afternoon we decided to let others more accustomed to the elevation do the work for us and went horse riding. The Basotho are very fond of horses and some parts of the country are still only reachable on horseback, so this was a very good place for me to ride a horse for the first time. Josephine and Lazarus were very docile, though Josephine had the tendency to kick out at the other horses so we had to keep our distance! We wandered through the trails along the river for a couple of hours, shadowed by Josephine’s 11 month old son who wanted to be with her mother. It was a great way to explore the trails and landscape and we can’t wait to do similar trips elsewhere in the country.
As it was the dry season there really wasn’t much water in the rivers and the hillsides were mostly brown, but it was majestic in its own right and we caught glimpses of the first stirrings of springtime life. The pink blossoms of peach trees were prominent along the road into the park and several small flowering bushes lined the paths. We were told that in another month or two the entire area is covered in colourful flowers and it is like an entirely different place!
We cannot wait for another chance to go back and enjoy Maliba once again in our time here, not only to enjoy the spectacular views and experiences they offer but also to see the new main lodge. Sadly we were not able to enjoy the main lodge with its 360 degree views this time as it burnt down in an electrical fire two days before we moved to Lesotho. Most of the structure was destroyed including the dining area and huge deck overlooking the valley.
Despite all this, the staff have done an amazing job dealing with the new circumstances and we certainly did not suffer having meals in our room. There are temporary plans in place to get a form of a lodge in place by summer in December and next year they will rebuild it completely. Once it is re-opened we certainly intend on going – even if it is only for lunch or dinner because the views and food are worth the trip!
All in all it was a fantastic weekend away – precisely the experience to celebrate ten wonderful years with my soulmate and fellow adventure seeker!