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On our recent trip to Southern Africa, we stayed at a variety of hotels — but Maliba Lodge in Lesotho stood out as a special place to stay.
As the first and only five-star hotel in Lesotho, Maliba Lodge is a unique mountain retreat that makes a destination on its own. Having read all about the gorgeous property, our expectations were rather high upon arrival. Weaving our way through the spectacular Maloti Mountains in Lesotho, we found our eyes widening with each turn of the mountain road. The drive to Maliba Lodge was both scenic and exciting
After entering the T’sehlanyane National Park gates, we found ourselves winding up a steep unpaved road to get to the lodge. But once there, we knew we were in for a treat. Maliba Lodge is a luxurious yet rustic property that blends in naturally to its mountain setting. The hotel is specially designed to celebrate the Lesotho tradition, sharing many architectural features with the traditional houses that dot the landscapes.
Location of Maliba Lodge Lesotho
In most parts of Africa, a lodge isn’t just a place to sleep — it’s often where you’ll be trekking, doing your game drives, eating and hanging out. It’s thus important to find one that’s located in an area with lots of things to see and explore. We definitely found lots to do in T’selahyane National Park, where Maliba Lodge is located. We stayed here for two nights, but still wished we had more time to explore deeper.
T’selahyane National Park is one of two national parks in Lesotho. This northern part of Lesotho is known to be one of the most beautiful parts of the country, with very raw, rugged and pristine nature. The national park is named T’sehlahyane for the Lesotho bamboo that’s found in abundance here. The Lesotho bamboo is of huge significance to the Basotho people (who used it to build their traditional huts and musical instruments) and this national park was established to protect the endemic plant.
Just outside of the national park is a smattering of small villages where the Basothos live in traditional thatch-roofed mud huts with their cattle and vegetable fields.
From Community Tours to Pony Treks
There are plenty of hiking trails in the Tsehlahyane National Park, as well as natural swimming holes, and rich wildlife. The lodge provided detailed maps of the hiking trails in the area and the staff are always more than eager to show you directions and give tips on which are the best hikes in the area.
We did a pony trek in the national park, riding the endemic Basotho pony up the canyon ridges to the blackpool, one of the many natural pools in the area. Even Kaleya got to go on a short ride on one of the Basotho ponies. The Basotho pony is a unique species of small horses that have evolved over the years. The two-hour pony trek cost 450ZAR (US$33) per person for a group of 2-3 people.
Along the way, we spotted an eland (second largest antelope in Africa) as well as eagles in the distance. The national park is also home to mountain baboons, bearded vultures, and falcon. Sadly the wildlife population has diminished since the fire that took place in the national park in 2013. There are now over 30 elands in the national park. Plant life is rich within the park and provisional estimates are that in excess of 220 flowering plant species.
We also did a community tour with one of the lodge’s staff as our guide. Most of the lodge staff are from the local area and they know the national park inside out. Our guide brought us to three villages that were just a few kilometers from the lodge and the experience gave us incredible insights to how the Basotho live. All proceeds of the community tour go to the Maliba Community Development Trust.
The first stop was the traditional beer-brewing hut, where the villagers prepared local beer together. We happened to chance upon a group of men singing, hitting the hops, and preparing them for the fermentation process. Then we got to try the traditional beer ourselves — which tasted much better than I expected.
Next, we went to visit a series of local homes, ranging from nice cemented houses to traditional mud huts. We also got to meet a sangoma, or traditional healer, who happened to be a lady in her sixties. She showed us all her tools and even demonstrated how she made certain medication.
Interior Design of Maliba Lodge
The lodge’s design is probably what I love most about it. It’s the quintessential African safari lodge that many dream about: hatched-roof huts, four-poster beds, teak wood furnishing, and high end features. Every single detail in the design makes it so natural and luxurious at the same time. Even though it’s not technically a safari lodge, it definitely makes you feel like you’re living your African dream.
Maliba Lodge has five luxury double chalets and a special family chalet poised on the top of the main lodge. On the outside, the chalets at Maliba Lodge look very simple, with grass thatched-roofs and simple brown walls. But on the inside, they’re tastefully designed with teak wood furniture and polished artwork. Every hut is equipped with five-star features and modern comforts.
Our family chalet was HUGE, with an extremely high ceiling, a luxurious four-poster bed and an enormous outdoor deck that extends out to the forest canopy. We had two sundecks on our verandah as well as a table and chairs on the outdoor deck. It was a shame we didn’t get to try dining at the outdoor deck — that would have been pretty special.
Features of the Hotel
The lodge itself isn’t massive, but there are plenty of walking trails around it that leads to the natural pools and river beneath. It’s a hiker’s paradise as you can spend days or even weeks exploring the national park on foot, with the lodge as your base.
Sadly, the lodge doesn’t have many extra features besides the restaurant and cafe — no swimming pool, tennis court, or kids’ playground. But its excellent restaurant serves high-end gourmet cuisine, with a South African chef in the helm. A three-course dinner set costs around 390 ZAR (US$28). The lunch room also dishes up incredibly fresh lunch items like fish and chips and BLT sandwiches that are surprisingly affordable (dishes range from 45 to 95 ZAR or US$3.50 to or US$7).
There is a kids’ club where young children are well taken care of. They even provide an amazing goodie bag for kids, that includes a magnifying glass, coloring pencils and book. Our 3-year-old daughter absolutely loved playing with the staff here.
Overall Experience at Maliba Lodge
We couldn’t have asked for a better setting to kick back and enjoy the mountains of Lesotho. It was just a pity that we couldn’t hike much with Kaleya still young and not able to walk much (shame our hiking baby carrier is still in Spain), otherwise we would have loved to explore the national park even more.
Nonetheless, Maliba Lodge truly blew our mind with its spectacular view, personalised service and dreamy African-style design. We loved being pampered by the amazing staff here and it made us feel very privileged to be here. All in all, Maliba Lodge is an excellent property that we will surely return to again and again.