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Malealea Lodge
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Reviews (307)
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Reviewed 6 October 2011

I had an interesting time at Malealea. I stayed in a Sotho round hut which was very comfortable and clean. Although I believe it was high season (January), it was fairly empty, so I was a bit disappointed at the lack of attention given to me by the staff. I believe they are South African ex-pats who were nice enough as people but to be honest a bit on the cold side and not very pro-active with information. But once I did ask for what I needed, they were very forthcoming with help. They arranged for a wonderful 6 hour hike through the mountains, to the waterfalls, and the San cave paintings thousands of years old. The scenery was magnicificent, even in the rain. A wonderful highlight was swimming in the rock pool just below the waterfall. My guide was very good and spoke fine English. One thing that I found a bit disconcerting was how the entire complex was fenced off from the surrounding community. It put me off after having stayed several times at Bulungula on the Wild Coast, Transkei where there is not only community involvement but partial ownership by the local Xhosa village. I suppose there have been issues that I am not aware of, but it just seemed that general access was not permitted for the locals unless they had a reason for being there. At Bulungula, one intermingles with the local community and villagers come and go as they proceed with their daily life - crime is a non-issue despite the awful reputation (undeserved) that the Transkei gets in South Africa. I will return to Lesotho which is a stunning country, but probably not here.

  • Stayed: January 2011, travelled solo
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1  Thank KincsZoltan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 August 2011

I’ve never written a review before – lazyitis being quite a debilitating illness – but I feel compelled to state my two-peneth on Malealea Lodge.

I arrived alone late one Friday evening in June, in my little Chevy Spark, highlighting that even a car with the power of a lawn mower and the suspension capabilities of an old Penny Farthing, can complete the rough and tumble journey in relative serenity. I had not booked, I chanced my arm, but from the moment I had entered, until I left the following morning I had nothing but fantastic, warm hospitality, wonderful service and memorable entertainment in one of the most stunning settings imaginable.

The owners, Debbie and Michael, were simply charming, approachable, generous in both spirit and information. I was invited to join them, other family members and friends for the evening, despite my natural reluctance to intrude. They have young children, and balancing raising them under difficult circumstances beyond their control, as well as running an exhausting and time-consuming business illustrates to me, at least, that they are nothing short of amazing.

They should be applauded – which, thankfully, most reviewers have – but remember, they are human, with real human emotions, meaning they cannot expected to be at their absolute best perpetually. However, a couple of claims made on this site are quite startling, and quite frankly, state a lot more about the reviewers, than the owners of Malealea Lodge. If you are always intent on finding fault, you simply will – self-fulfilling prophecy springs to mind.

Remember that this is Lesotho, a very impoverished country. Remember that this lodge is in the middle of nowhere, so situated that all the guests get to fully enjoy the spectacular setting without the needless materialistic trappings of modernity. Remember what they are doing and achieving in the local community. If you want everything to be absolute perfection, then go elsewhere and remember how much you are paying for it. Malealea Lodge is fantastic value for money and more... much more.

On a final note, a couple of guests I spoke to enthused about the lodge tirelessly, two sisters constantly return to celebrate a birthday or two. Others also return regularly as well. That is the strongest testament of all. I rest my case.

  • Stayed: June 2011, travelled solo
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5  Thank Wandering-Wiganer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 July 2011

“....Stunning time @ lodge. We have to go, u’ll love it” As usual my girlfriend was absolutely right. During my recent first visit to South Africa to see her one of the undoubted highlights was our all too brief trip into Lesotho and our stay at Malealea.

It’s probably best to start with a warning. If you are looking to visit Southern Africa and cannot get past the idea of a lodge being some form of five star throwback to a bygone age then look elsewhere now. If on the other hand you want a chance to see how tourism can help make a difference to the lives of those less materially well off than yourself whilst at the same time enjoying a wonderful experience this could well be the place for you.

Set amidst breathtakingly beautiful mountain scenery, alongside the village from which it takes it’s name, Malealea Lodge started life as a trading station in colonial times. Any hint of a potentially exploitative past relationship with the village has been completely removed by the family who have run the lodge for two generations. By setting up the Malealea Development Trust the lodge has helped provide a platform for a vast range of programmes from primary education to AIDS awareness and from craft making to water conservation. Please don’t be misled into thinking my idea of a good holiday is to observe a worthy lesson in civics, this place is above all tremendous fun!

As a complete novice to horse riding even I was able to enjoy a four hour pony-trek to a beautiful nearby waterfall whilst experiencing only minor bouts of doubt as to whether we were really going to negotiate such steep terrain. Any such fears were groundless and our guide was on hand at all times to ensure thing went smoothly.

Whilst my lack of equestrian skill might deter me from a longer pony-trek I would certainly be keen on a future visit to try one of the hikes of up to four nights duration which involve sleeping in traditional Basuto huts.

The accommodation at the lodge is exactly as described on the web site. There is a variety to suit different needs and budgets but throughout it is clean and well presented. Whilst electricity is only available in the rooms for a few hours around nightfall if your days are anything like as long and eventful as ours this really won’t be a problem and besides those are more hours of power than are enjoyed by most of the local inhabitants. During our stay at the end of June the overnight temperatures were well below freezing but the bedding provided was more than enough to ensure a warm and comfortable sleep.

It wouldn’t be right not to mention both food and entertainment. Meals are served in a large communal dining room which has a lively and friendly atmosphere. During our stay I can only say that the food was both excellent and plentiful and on one evening we witnessed the presenting of one planned and one impromptu birthday cake, both of which clearly surprised and delighted the recipients! Whilst the choir did not perform during our visit we were lucky enough to catch one of the local bands. Having seem their energetic and exuberant routine it came as little surprise to find that they have played on the UK festival circuit and will be travelling to New Zealand later this year.

To go out where I came in, I had a stunning time at the lodge and I did love it. I only hope that we can go back soon and for longer and would urge you to do the same.

  • Stayed: June 2011, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank PeteDawson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 28 May 2011

a stunning location with amazing views!

my travel buddy and i stayed one night at malealea lodge before heading on a six day pony trek.

once shown to our room, which was nice and cozy, although alittle cold as the only heating was a small iron heater, we decided to cook up some noodles in the communal kitchen, this was dirty with dishes in the sink and food scraps everywhere. we needed matches to light the stove and had to search the floor for one match!

I understand that it is a communal kitchen and other guests should clean up after themselves.... but it would not hurt the staff to check that all the facility are of a clean standard.

At night we ate in the dining area, the food was good and it had a good community atmosphere as all the guests ate together and we were able to chat with all the people there, following dinner we had some beers and listened to the local choir which was very pleasant.

the following day we set of on our trek, our guide was abit of a joke. who clearly took us along some more dangerous paths when we could see other ways that were not as bad.
at once stage my pony's back legs went off the side off a cliff with me still on it, and all our guide did was say "it will right itself" as he continued on without a backwards glance at me still dangling off the cliff! luckily the pony did right itself just as i was about to bail from it.

another problem with our guide was he continuously kept asking for cigarettes, my friend and i just had enough for ourselves, but really we didnt want to say no, our guide had about a whole packet of OUR cigarettes, in the end we bought him a pack to himself when we reach semonkong.

once we arrived back at semonkong and declined the young manager another nights stay (we had to catch a flight the next morning) he became cold towards us. We asked to use his phone to call our driver his response was " no you cant, use the one outside the lodge" this phone outside the lodge didn't even work! and my travel buddy had to pay a local to use his mobile!!!!!
After the amount we payed, you would expect the lodge to allow us to use the phone!

we were not very happy at all!

  • Stayed: June 2010, travelled with friends
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3  Thank MonicaJeanette
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 May 2011

We've just landed back in the UK from a 15 month family travel adventure with our two kids (aged 7 & 8). We have been lucky enough to stay in some truly amazing places around the world, but if you asked us to pick just three or four places to go back to, Malealea Lodge would definitely be one of them.

It is a fair drive from Maseru (60 km or so) and it is true that the last 7km is bumpy, but we made it fine in our 2 wheel drive hire car & so did several others staying at the lodge. So don't worry & just go. In our experience, Lesotho towns are pretty uninteresting anyway - the best thing to do is get out into the countryside & you can't go wrong at Malealea.

At the top of the pass on the road into Malealea you'll see an ancient sign announcing 'Wayfarer pause and look upon a gateway to paradise'. Do exactly that. You are entering a stunningly beautiful broad, green valley gently peppered with the round, mud and grass homes of traditional farming communities. In the sunshine we genuinely felt that we had stumbled across an ancient, agrarian paradise, untouched for centuries.

At the heart of Malealea itself is the lodge. At the heart, not just in terms of its location, but also because the lodge and the associated Malealea Development Trust does such fantastic work with the local community.

We stayed at the lodge for three days, we had a couple of rooms in the farmhouse. These were nice, comfortable rooms with good facilities. I think I read another review negatively commenting on the tables made from recycled cans - this is Africa, resources are scarce and recycling is essential. The tables are great!

Food is served in a large communcal dining room next to the bar. The food was excellent - just make sure you tell Michael or Debbie (the owners) if you want lunch. You can also have a coffee or snack in the lovely garden cafe, which has an amazing view over the valley.

The best thing about our stay was that we were lucky enough to be there over Freedom Day weekend (a South African holiday) & several members of Debbie & Michael's family were staying with lots of kids for ours to play with. These lovely, generous people invited us and our kids to tag along on a trip to the local waterfall - and we just had a ball.

We went pony trekking (which you must do, as it helps the local community who supply the ponies and guides), taking a half day trip to see the 7,000 year old San Cave Paintings. This was a perfect, gentle ride - ideal for our kids. The lodge provides riding hats and is very safety conscious. By the way - please make sure you follow the advice on tipping, as over tipping can apparently cause issues in the community.

We also attended the concert by the local choir and band (using home made, improvised instruments), which we thought was fantastic.

As we work in the charity sector back in the UK, we asked if we could see the work the Malealea Development Trust does. Marion, who runs it, took us out for a morning drive around the community. We drove past the school (where the Trust funds 70 out of 80 of the children), saw the local HIV/AIDS clinic (where the Trust funds equipment, supports HIV/AIDS awareness & helps fund travel to Maseru for people who need it) and also saw Michael's pet project to help reclaim the 'dongas' (more recycled cans, this time used to stop soil erosion and help land become usable again).

We left Malealea feeling relaxed, refreshed and uplifted. Our kids had a wonderful time and, when they are a little older and we have managed to replenish our bank account, we will be back to do the overnight pony trekking. We can't wait.

  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled with family
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3  Thank Lou_Simon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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