- Lesotho is a land of contrasts
- High unemployment
- Many people live on less than a $1 a day
- More than 30% of the Adult population has HIV
- A lack of development and natural resource’s
And yet it is a country with a unique beauty unlike any other!
- Pristine natural environment
- unpolluted mountains and streams
- Friendly Basotho people who enjoy a simple subsistence living
- Wide open spaces and a complete absence of over development
Lesotho’s biggest asset is its underdevelopment and its beautiful unspoilt environment. It doesn’t have vast mineral deposits extensive manufacturing or large commercial centres which often bring pollution, conflict and crime like its neighbour South Africa. Literacy rates are amongst the highest in Africa and English is taught extensively in schools.
The government of Lesotho through the Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation, identified tourism as a key target industry some years ago as an ideal way of bringing in valuable foreign exchange, reducing the reliance on foreign aid and stimulation of employment opportunities. Lesotho hopes to take the lead from Botswana in developing low impact eco friendly tourism based around small specialists lodges and tourism facilities that have small environmental footprints which are both specialised and sustainable. These are the types of establishments which are being established throughout Lesotho, often in remote and spectacular locations.
A case study is Maliba Mountain Lodge built high up in the Maluti mountains in northern Lesotho within the Ts’ehlanyane National Park. The site was previously a remote workers camp for the Kaste Dam audit tunnel project and it has now been transformed into Lesotho’s first 5 star lodge. It is highly luxurious but also intimate (only 32 beds).
As the lodge is situated within a National Park, it was important to recycle much of its waste, a “biogas” plant was established in order to treat its effluent, an organic market garden provides fresh produce to the kitchen/restaurant and extensive water wise, indigenous gardens were created, including one of the highest botanical gardens in the world.
Maliba lodge was built using only local labour, traditional building materials and methods with over 100 workers involved at the hight of construction.
The Lodge now employs 85% local Basotho most of them previously involved in the construction of what they affectionately call their lodge. These workers have now been retrained as kitchen staff , waitresses and housekeepers.
The lodge also has a strong community focus. It has established the Maliba community trust which is funded through profits from the lodge and helps fund school infrastructure and agriculture projects as well as a local community centre that helps look after the vulnerable orphans, the elderly and provides a central facility for the community to rally around.
A holiday visit to Lesotho is a proactive way of helping the country start helping itself and not become reliant on hand outs and world aid. It is a valuable way of empowering the local Basotho people and in a small way help develop a local industry that is both effective and sustainable. All this while still being able to enjoy an unforgettable holiday in one of the most beautiful and unspoilt countries, left in the world. What more could you ask for, don’t wait tell your friends and Get Lost in Lesotho!
|Listen to the radio interview which Chris Mcevoy (a director of Maliba Lodge) gave on Fine Music Radio 101.3|