RR Sport to Africa’s highest pub
Sam Philip heads to Lesotho in a Range Rover Sport for a pint. Because... well, why not?
Posted: 03 Jan 2014
And this from a car on summer road tyres and 21-inch wheels. So assured is the Sport's gentle ascent that I decide this is a good moment to take my hands from the wheel and dive into the footwell to retrieve a chunk of biltong dropped earlier. When I resurface a few seconds later, I note with interest that a) we are a couple of metres from toppling off the pass and down the side of a mountain and b) the photographer is capable of emitting noises at the outer reaches of the human aural register. Mental note. RRS: very good at off-roading; cannot steer itself.
Approaching from the south, you can see nothing of Lesotho until you're almost in it. The last hundred metres through no-man's land are a scrabble up an almost vertical cliff face, hopping over rockfalls and collapsed road. Were a Bond villain to design his own no-expense-spared mountain lair, I'm not sure he could come up with a driveway more imposing than this. A weird driveway for a weird country. Lesotho is, essentially, an island nation, but one surrounded by near-impassable cliff rather than sea. It's a statistical anomaly of a place: the same size as Belgium, it's the only country in the world to lie entirely above 1,000m in altitude. In fact, Lesotho's lowest point is 1,400m above sea level, which is the highest lowest point of any country on earth. It's the most southerly landlocked country in the world, and one of just three countries to be completely enclaved within just one other: the Vatican City and San Marino are the other two. Two turns from the top, I've no idea what to expect.