Mafika Lisiu Pass

Mafika Lisiu Pass: steep gradients and sharp curves

Mafika Lisiu Pass is a high mountain pass at an elevation of 3.090m (10,137ft) above the sea level, located in northern Lesotho. It’s one of the highest roads of the country, affording excellent viewing of the unique alpine flora. The zone is prone to heavy mist and can be dangerous in low visibility conditions.

The road to the summit is paved. It was built in 1990’s and crosses the Maloti Range. The pass is located between Pitseng and Lejone and leads to the Ketsa Dam. From Pitseng the road climbs in less than 30 kilometres to a breathtaking 3090 metres at the top of the pass. Every bend will have you wanting to stop the car to take in the view, to immortalise it in photographs. If you don’t have a head for heights, though, you may prefer to close your eyes and grit your teeth.

The road includes steep climbs and descents, hairpin bends and waterfalls. Unless you’re adventurous and have a strongly developed sense of humour, some of the road signs along this pass aren’t likely to thrill you either. Signs warn of Sharp descent, Snow/ice and Falling rocks. Take notice. They’re not kidding. Signs will also warn you of Steep curves for 5km – after you’ve already been twisting helter skelter for kilometre upon kilometre. Just as you go into a Sharp descent another sign will helpfully tell you that Brake failure has killed. Here where there’s not a repair shop or AA check centre in sight. Bit late for that warning, then.

Be careful: this road is not for the sissies. One mistake can have consequences.The flora, bird life and photographic beauty of the area will astound, as will the winter snow, which has no equal in Southern Africa. Check the weather before the trip. At the top of the pass is the Bokong Nature Reserve, the highest nature reserve in Africa accessible by car. The slopes are steep and when it rains, rocks and stones get dislodged onto the road, carving craters in the edge of the tar as they land.

 

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NOTICE: Due to the spread of COVID-19, many points of interest and roads are closed and travel is not recommended. Please follow all local health authority directives before venturing off, and stay safe.