The mighty Maletsunyane Falls, just a few kilometers south of the quiet and cozy village of Semonkong, is one of the highest single drop waterfalls in Africa. It creates a mist as the water plummets 186 meters into a spectacular gorge, nearly twice as high as Victoria Falls, though a fraction of its width.
It is from this mist or fog that Semonkong which means ‘The Place of Smoke’ after the characteristic haze created by the waterfall plummeting into the gorge. Semonkong comes from the funigalore word for smoke; “semoko”.
This remote village, recently gazetted as a town, is in the southern central part of Lesotho. Semonkong nestles in a large amphitheatre between the Thaba Putsoa range and the mountains around the great Thaba Ntso - Black Mountain, to the west of the great Central range.
Semonkong was originally established as a refuge site for the people of Basotho after the Gun War in the1880s. The town valley is known today for its mystic beauty and tranquil surroundings.
It’s convenient location has made the town accessible from all parts of the country. The town nestles among the Thaba Putsoa mountain ranges at the center of Maloti.
Semonkong is often termed as a natural paradise. It is a hub of unique and spectacular natural splendor. While traveling by road to the town, tourists get enchanted by the view of the nearby villages. The view of the mountain-passes changes gradually with each passing mile. The flora and fauna of the region are a treat to watch.
The Maletsunyane river, the river of little smoke, where in winter the steam rises from the warmer river. The white foamy water of Maletsunyane enhances the magical beauty of the surroundings. Ketane Falls is the 120m high waterfall located near the town. The two waterfalls form prime attractions in Semonkong.
The valley town of Semonkong offers various recreational activities that are enjoyed by adventure lovers.
Tourists may take pleasure in outdoor activities like trout fishing, pony trekking and hiking. Other activities in Semonkong include horseback riding, sailing, diving and safari trips. Nature enthusiasts may also observe the varied wild-life in Semonkong.
High in the mountains of the Kingdom of Lesotho, where winters are bitter cold and in some years, the snow doesn’t even melt in summer.
The national flower of Lesotho, the spiral aloe or Aloe Polyphylla, is restricted to these steep basaltic mountain slopes. There are large areas of these pretty plants found around Semonkong. Semonkong Lodge operates the world’s highest abseil down into the gorge alongside the falls.
Various events and cultural programs, held throughout the year, provide the visitor an opportunity to experience the traditional culture of this place.
The road to Semonkong from the north goes no further than Semonkong for most four wheel vehicles. The sturdier four wheel drives, motor bikes and of course horses, can pursue the south eastern paths to the Senqu.
Horses and motor bikes only may find their way across to the west via the bridal paths to the Ketane Valley and Malealea.
The town receives it’s electric power from the river and an ingenious miniature hydro-electric station, hosts a monthly horse race, trades in wool, horses and farm produce and is growing it’s tourism industry with great pride and a warm welcoming people who inhabit this Tolkein page of Lesotho.
The biggest economic venture is probably the Semokong Lodge, which employs tens of people.