As visitors journeying to Lesotho soon find out, Maseru is quite a strange place for a modern capital city. Way off the beaten tourist track, the main commercial and administrative centre of the Mountain Kingdom is sleepy and dilapidated, with a distinct small-town feel.
Found in one of the most beautiful regions in Africa, Maseru sits amongst the foothills of the Maloti Mountains with views of the jagged peaks of the Drakensberg Mountains. Built in a slight valley known as Hlabeng-Sa-Likhama, Maseru is still 5.200 feet (1,600m) above sea level.
This makes for impossibly beautiful, clear, and crisp skies, with harsh winters balanced out by brilliantly fresh mountain air. In Maseru, most midrange and budget accommodation is basic, shopping opportunities are few, and the restaurant scene isn't exactly sophisticated.
Although there is not much to see and do in Maseru, outdoor enthusiasts will soon come to view Lesotho as a giant natural playground. The country is full of walking and hiking trails, leading tourists up into the mountains and past rural villages and hamlets.
There are also some great outdoor activities for tourists. Activities available are as diverse as pony-trekking, fishing, birding, abseiling, skiing, and even paragliding. These are generally well-organised and easy to get involved in, easily enquired about at any upmarket hotel in Maseru.
For well-heeled travellers looking to do Lesotho in style, the country also has a small but upmarket selection of four and five-star hotels, game lodges, and even a hotel/casino complex. On top of this, Maseru does boast some unique local art and craft products that make for great souvenirs.
Hand-woven mohair blankets and tapestries are probably the country's most famous export, but tourists will also find handmade traditional music instruments, clay pottery, wire and tin figurines, and beaded jewellery.
With a famously friendly local population, a slow pace of life, and outstanding natural scenery, Maseru can be a gentle introduction to the African continent for foreign tourists, and holds real promise for those looking to try some outdoor activities while on holiday in southern Africa.