MASERU
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street vendors.jpg (34564 bytes)The Capital of Lesotho, Maseru is generally the first stop for most visitors. The City is being reconstructed after some of the shopping areas were burnt in 1998 and several other developments are taking place.

Maseru is the major gateway for travellers coming by air, and for drivers coming from Johannesburg and Bloemfontein, but it is also a pleasant base from which tourists can explore the Western and Northern attractions of Lesotho.

Maseru is  a young but growing city. The site was first occupied as an administrative post by the British in 1869, and grew slowly from then. Many old buildings from early in the century can still be seen. Recent years have seen a greater degree of growth and modernisation and central Maseru is becoming dilapidated.

Maseru is a place to explore briefly, a place to stock up on supplies and deal with bureaucratic necessities - otherwise it is unlikely to detain the traveller for long. The main road is called Kingsway, and runs from the South African border through the town centre and ends at the traffic circle where the main north and south roads head off. Taxis run all the time along this route. 

The road on the right just before it (facing away from the border), Orpen Road, leads down to the Maseru Sun Cabanas. Across the road from the Hat are the offices of Lesotho Airways and a few doors up, the Lesotho Tourist Board. They have information on various aspects of the country as well as some beautiful posters at good prices. A little further up on the right side of the road is the OK Bazaars supermarket, then the Lancer's Inn Hotel and bakery and then the Post Office. Opposite the post office is the Department of Immigration.

The map office at the Department of Land, Surveys and Physical Planning is well worth a visit. They sell an excellent 1:250000 Relief map of Lesotho for M30. This map has been updated recently, and is the best map of Lesotho available. The satellite image map is also interesting. There are tourist maps of Semongkong and Sehlabathebe. And of course, for hikers the 1:50 000 topographic maps are a must. They are a little pricey, but in order to have a safe hike, money well spent. The office is in Lerotholi Road. Two roads up from the post office turn left, then right and immediately left into Lerotholi Road. The office is 5Om from this junction on the right.


SIGHTSEEING

The Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Victories is an imposing colonial style structure on the main entry into the City, and well worth a visit. Just away from the City centre, the Papal Pavilion is a memento of the Pope’s visit to our Kingdom.

In recent years, promotion of the use of local stone (Maluti sandstone) for modern buildings has resulted in some very pleasing new buildings that blend well with the dramatic Lesotho scenery.

The weaving centres, such as Thorkild Hand Weaving and Moteng Weavers, provide great opportunities for visitors to buy high-quality and well-designed traditional Lesotho products.

Lancer’s Gap, on the road north from Maseru, offers fine views of the City and the Caledon Valley, and is the site of a famous battle in 1852 when Basotho warriors under Moshoeshoe l’s son Molapo defeated the 12th Royal Lancers under Lt. General Sir George Cathcart who were on a punitive expedition.

AROUND MASERU

It is even more in the surrounding countryside than in the City itself that the visitor will find so much of interest to make a memorable visit to Lesotho. Maseru, with its fine hotels, is an ideal base from which to explore the western regions of Lesotho, with their history and culture, craft centres, and with a countryside that changes with the seasons.

In the springtime, billowing clouds of peach blossom in the nearby orchards provide a wonderful opportunity to explore our famous Peach Blossom route, either by car or on pony.

Roma Our National University is sited in a very scenic valley at Roma, 35km from the capital, and is an interesting point for a short excursion from Maseru. This has always been an educational centre, and is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Mission that was founded in 1862.

Thaba Bosiu is not far from Maseru and is a well worthwhile excursion. Buses and taxis run to the tourist office at the base of the mountain from the southern bus rank in Maseru. Guides are available at the tourist office. The senior guide is a direct descendant of Moshoeshoe the Great and has a wealth of knowledge and stories about the place. He makes history come alive. It is not too stiff a climb to the top, where ruins of Moshoeshoe's village remain, and the royal graveyard, is also located on the summit. Views are lovely, and just nearby is Qiloane, a strangely formed mountain, the shape of which is supposed to have inspired the old Basotho hat building in Maseru.

Morija is a small town about 40 km south of Maseru. It is well worth a stay, but can also be visited as a day trip from Maseru. The only museum in Lesotho is located here. The museum has a lovely tea garden overlooking the surrounding hills and pony trekking day trips can also be done from here.

See Day Trips from Maseru

NIGHT LIFE

Lesotho may not have Vegas-style nightlife, but when the sun goes down the fun does not stop. In Maseru there are two casinos, and gamblers can enjoy blackjack and roulette, as well as slots.

In Maseru and other towns in Lesotho, visitors will find a wide range of excellent restaurants. Fine dining experiences range from Chinese and Indian to Continental and tasty Southern Africa fare. In the warmer months, many people will also enjoy a braai — the Southern Africa barbecue.

In Maseru, visitors will find a cinema, and most hotels provide television that feature Lesotho Television, South African channels and satellite links. And don’t forget that our friendly bars are welcoming and informal. A drink with friends under the starlit sky in summer, or round a cosy log fire in the winter, is a great way to finish off the day.

view from les sun.jpg (68989 bytes)ACCOMMODATION

There are six hotels in Maseru. 
The top hotels are the
Lesotho Sun, Maseru Sun and the Victoria Hotel.

Three less expensive options are the Khali Hotel, Lakeside Hotel and Lancers Inn.

 


ACCESS

By air: Through Maseru International Airport, 40km away from the City centre.
By road:
A network of modern tarred roads feeds the Capital' from different border posts, and other towns.
By rail:
Maseru has rail links with other commercial centres in South Africa

Internal flights: Mission Aviation fly once or twice a week from Maseru to Mokhotlong, Thaba Tseka and Katse .
Phone them in Maseru on 314790 310347 to check on seat availability.

ROAD DISTANCES

Maseru is connected by road to a number of South African cities, as well as other regions. The following are the shortest tarred routes:
Bloemfontein - Thaba Nchu - Maseru (140 km)
Cape Town - Worcester - Beau fort West - Colesberg - Bloemfontein - Maseru (1166 km)
Port Elizabeth - Grahamstown - Fort Beau fort - Whittlesea - Queenstown - Aliwal North - Wepener - Maseru (720 km)
Durban - Pietermaritzburg - Ladysmith - Harrismith - Bethlehem Fouriesburg - Ficksburg - Ladybrand - Maseru (548 km) (Also tarred road from Harrismith to Fouriesburg via Golden Gate Park, somewhat shorter but with many curves)
Johannesburg -Heilbron - Petrus Steyn - Lindley - Arlington - Senekal - Marquard - Clocolan - Ladybrand - Maseru (420 km)
Gaborone (Botswana) - Zeerust - Lichtenburg - Klerksdorp - Kraonstad - Ventersburg - Winburg - Clocolan - Ladybrand - Maseru (630 kin)
Mbabane (Swaziland) - Oshoek - Chrissiesmeer - Ermelo - Standerton - Vrede - Warden - Bethlehem - Fouriesburg - Ficksburg - Ladybrand - Maseru (635 kin)

Adventures in Africa, adventure holidays, adrenaline rushes, expeditions, safarisBACKPACKERS INFORMATION

Accommodation
The Anglican Training Centre
: Follow directions above to map office, but continue up Lerotholi Road until the first road crossing. This is Assissi Road, turn left here and go up the hill. You'll soon see the sign on the left. Find the senior sister to request accommodation and persevere - they have 72 beds! Tariffs are cheap in 2, 4 or 5 bedded rooms. Rooms and ablutions are clean, the place quiet and the people friendly - Meals are available.

Lesotho Work Camps Association: This is an association for voluntary work by Basotho in rural areas. They are situated behind the Catholic cathedral which is at the traffic circle. Go down Main North road, and at a garage on the right, you'll see a dirt road which also serves as a taxi rank. Go down here and you'll soon come to the LWCA. They offer dormitory accommodation at M20/person. There are hot water ablutions and a small kitchen. The place is slightly grotty and not in the best area, but is cheap.

Transport
Getting to Maseru from South Africa:
Buses: Transtate run services to/from Johannesburg. There is no need to book. Buses from Johannesburg leave from the back (western side) of Johannesburg station on Mondays. Wednesdays and Fridays at 8 a.m. arriving in Maseru around 3 p.m. There are also 3 buses leaving on Friday evenings between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. From Maseru, buses leave from the border post on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays at 12 noon, arriving in Johannesburg at 5.30 p.m. The cost is R41.00.

Minibus taxis: They leave from Johannesburg station direct to Maseru, and the return trip leaves from the Maseru border. The journey takes about 5 hours and costs about R55. They leave from Bloemfontein station, some go direct but it may be quicker to go to Botshabelo and change there. The return journey leaves from the South African side of Maseru border; again it may be quicker via Botshabelo.

Internal transport: Just off Main North road, opposite Lesotho High School on the left side of the road if heading out of town is the bus/taxi rank for al transport going north (i.e. Maputsoe, Hlotse, Butha Buthe). On the right hand side of Main South Road heading out of town is the bus/taxi rank for transport going to central regions (Thaba Bosiu, Thaba Tseka, Molimo Nthuse, Semongkong) and the south (Quthing, Morija, Motsekuoa, etc.)

BUSINESS HOURS

Shops Monday to Friday 0800 - 1100
Saturday 0800 - 1200
Sunday (certain shops in Maseru town centre only) 0800 – 1300

Government Offices Monday to Friday 0800 - 1245       1400 - 1630

Banks Monday to Friday (exc. Wednesday) 0830 - 1530  
            Wednesday 0830 – 1300
            Saturday 0830 - 1100

 

 


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Last updated: 08 July 2005