An old man once spoke of a place deep in the Maluti Mountains where the gods had pulled the earth's skin together, where rivers teemed with fish and the sky was full of birds. Semonkong Lodge is located in such an ancient place where winter chilly breezes blow off snow-capped peaks … and where summer flowers, birds and beasts emerge to enjoy the mountains.
Semonkong means ‘the place of smoke’, referring to the Maletsunyane waterfall thundering into its pool and creating a smoky mist and also the fact that the area is often covered with thick mist in winter. Tucked into a river gorge just about in the very centre of Lesotho on the eastern slopes of the Thaba Putsoa Range, the Lodge is only accessible via spectacular mountain passes. Most of the road is dirt but is passable with a sedan vehicle.
Semonkong Lodge is the ideal base from which to explore the interior of Lesotho and some of the remote mountain villages – your transport being your own feet or those of a pony. Here visitors can experience true rural Basotho life by spending a few nights in a village. The lodge itself is built of stone and thatch, and offers the right mix of rusticity and civilisation. Electricity, hot showers, a bar and restaurant area with a crackling fire ensure that comforts are met, but there are no telephones at the lodge and cellular phone reception is unlikely. All accommodation is en-suite, with the choice of double or 8-bed dormitory-type rooms.
Day trips from the Lodge include a walk or pony ride to the Maletsunyane Falls, the second highest straight drop falls in Southern Africa and the third highest in the southern hemisphere. Have a swim in the pool at the base of the falls and also look for Aloe polyphylla, an aloe species indigenous to Lesotho. Stop for a beer and a chat in the village on the way back to the Lodge.
4x4 and motorbike trails are also open to the public, as are the rivers for trout fishing. Birdlife and wild flowers are spectacular, particularly in the summer months. Overnight pony treks and hikes are also possible. Semonkong Lodge works closely with the local community - guides are local and their horses belong to the community, as do the overnight huts. The pony treks are quite strenuous, involving 6-7 hours of riding per day, but is a great way for the novice to learn to ride as the ponies are extremely sturdy and capable. The overnight huts have cooking and eating utensils, and all luggage and food is carried by packhorses. For those not wishing to ride, simply lead a packhorse along to carry your belongings and food.