The little African kingdom enjoys skiing as Europe sweats in the summer heat

by Jerome delay

August 7, 2022 GMT

BUTHA-BUTHE, LESOTO (AP) – While millions across Europe are sweating during a record-breaking hot summer, they are skiing in Africa.

do not worry. This is not another sign of climate change, but rather the fascinating anomaly of Lesotho, a small mountain kingdom completely surrounded by southern Africa. Lesotho has a nebulous geographic claim to fame: it is the only country on Earth where every inch of its land lies more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) above sea level.

This gives Lesotho snow in the southern hemisphere winters. And while cold winters are not uncommon in South Africa, snowfall and ski resorts are even rarer. At an elevation of 3,000 meters (9,842 ft), Afrisky in the Maluti Mountains in Lesotho is the only working ski resort in Africa south of the equator.

“I’ve never seen snow in my life,” said Kafi Mugabello, who traveled a short distance from South Africa for a ski vacation she never thought she’d take. “So, this is a great experience.”

Bafana Nadida, who hails from the sprawling urban town of Soweto in Johannesburg, was happy to put on his ski boots for the first time. He planned a day of ski lessons, taking pictures, and playing in the snow.

Line up skiers and snowboarders to rent the right gear. Some got pointers from Hope Ramukotjo, who is from Lesotho and has been a ski and snowboard coach for 12 years. His wide smile and deep, reassuring voice put beginners at ease.

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“Push the healing.” “Don’t pull your shoulders,” Ramukotjo called to his class of enthusiastic and inexperienced African snowboarders swinging on the snow. “Here you are! Nice – good!”

Afriski’s Kapoko Snow Park is the only snow park on the continent. Runners lined up last month for the annual Snowboard and Winter Web Style Slope Contest. Sichulo Ramonotsi, a 13-year-old from Butha-Buthi, Lesotho who regularly plays in Afrisky, won the junior and junior figure skating race.

“I would really like to ski in Europe,” he said.

London-born Meka Lebohang Ejindu said he has studied skiing and snowboarding in Austria for more than a decade and this is his first season in the Southern Hemisphere. He has family roots in Lesotho.

“It is intimate that there is such a competition in South Africa,” he said.

Afriski may not be on par with the vast alpine resorts of Europe, but the love for winter sports is spreading.

At Afriski’s Sky Restaurant and Gondola Cafe, happy hour begins at 10 a.m., skaters and skaters show off their winter costumes, party music takes home, and beer is on hand. Some claim the strip is the highest in Africa, although this is challenged by the Sani Mountain Lodge, 130 kilometers (80 miles) to the east on the border of Lesotho and South Africa.

What no one can argue with is that this crowd went skiing in Africa.

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