The Highest Country in the World – Welcome to Lesotho

Everyone tries to make out they are the biggest, the tallest, the highest, the smallest, the greatest.  I get tired of so many “100 places you must visit before you die” .  So I tend to avoid that kind of lazy travel blog talk in my writings.  So why have I chosen this title for Lesotho?  Well it was such an interesting and charming reason.  They define it very carefully – of course the highest mountain is Everest and that is on the border of Nepal and China (Tibet).  So those two countries should claim to be the highest in the world.  But China goes to sea level, and Nepal’s lowest point is only 70m above sea level where the terrain looks like so much of the Indian plain.

How Lesotho define highest is that the lowest point in Lesotho is higher up than the lowest point of any other country, which of course means that every other point in Lesotho is also higher than that elevation.  Lesotho is perched upon a massif totally surrounded by South Africa.  The lowest point is at an elevation of 1400m, almost 5000 ft (higher than anywhere in the UK by a long way).  The next highest low point is a meagre 900m in Rwanda, also in Africa.  The Himalayan countries do not get a look in.

The lowest point is right on south west tip of Lesotho on the border with South Africa, where the Makhaleng River confluences with the Orange River.  My first time in Lesotho, I entered at another low point, the bridge on the road from Bloemfontein and Maseru.  I’d been doing some voluntary work on behalf of one charity, MapAction, with another called Sentebale.  They were linked because Prince Harry is patron of both.  MapAction’s specialism was in turning lots of disparate information into maps during relief operations after a disaster, and Sentebale had an idea of a new project called Letsema that needed just that consolidation of data.  The primary focus of Sentebale is orphaned children; they tend not to get directly involved in their welfare but enable other charities to make a difference across the whole of Lesotho.

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The border from South Africa into Lesotho

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