Tiny African kingdom has skiing as Europe swelters

  • First time skiers take a lesson at the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • Fresh snow covers the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • Visitors to the Afriski ski resort, one wearing a tratiotional Basutu hat, take a selfie, near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • Visitors to the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, one wearing a traditional Basutu blanket, wait to rent ski gear Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • A visitor to the Afriski ski resort waits in line to pay for the ski lift fee, near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • Kafi Mojapelo, right, who traveled the short distance from neighboring South Africa to the Afriski ski resort, waits for her ski instructor, near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern... Jerome Delay

  • A visitor to the Afriski ski resort holds her snowboard, near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • First time skiers wait for their instructor at the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • A young skier adjusts his helmet at the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • Few skiers brave the fog and falling snow at the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • Visitors have their picture taken as snow falls at the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • First time skiers get ready for their first lesson at the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • Kafi Mojapelo takes her first ski lesson at the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • Visitors enjoy the snow at the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • Fresh snow covers the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Sunday July 31, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • Snowboarders get ready to hit the slope at the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Sunday July 31, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • A snowboarder slides down the slope of the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • Sekholo Ramonotsi, 13, wearing the number 43, waits for results during the Winter Whip Slopestyle snowboard and ski competition at the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in... Jerome Delay

  • Sekholo Ramonotsi, 13, competes in the Winter Whip Slopestyle snowboard and ski competition at the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. Ramonotsi won banish ski and snowboard categories in his class. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a... Jerome Delay

  • John Bokang competes in the youth category of the Winter Whip Slopestyle snowboard and ski competition at the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, July 30. AP PHOTO

  • Bronwyn Rassmann competes in the Winter Whip Slopestyle snowboard and ski competition at the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. Rassmann finished second in the women's category. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go... Jerome Delay

  • London-born Meka Lebohang Ejindu, center, reacts after his run during the Winter Win Slopestyle snowboard and ski competition at the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in... Jerome Delay

  • Participants in the Winter Win Slopestyle snowboard and ski competition at the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, wait for the results, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome... Jerome Delay

  • A car makes its way towards the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Sunday July 31, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • Departing visitors take a souvenir photograph with local herdsmen at the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Sunday July 31, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

  • Fresh snow covers the Afriski ski resort near Butha-Buthe, Lesotho, Saturday July 30, 2022. While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, Afriski in the Maluti Mountains is Africa's only operating ski resort south of the equator. It draws people from neighboring South Africa and further afield by offering a unique experience to go skiing in southern Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay) Jerome Delay

Associated Press
Published: 8/7/2022 9:34:26 PM
Modified: 8/7/2022 9:31:09 PM

BUTHA-BUTHE, Lesotho — While millions across Europe sweat through a summer of record-breaking heat, they’re skiing in Africa.

Don’t worry. This isn’t another sign of climate change but rather the fascinating anomaly of Lesotho, a tiny mountain kingdom completely surrounded by South Africa. Lesotho has an obscure geographical claim to fame: It’s the only country on Earth where every inch of its territory sits more than 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) above sea level.

That gives Lesotho snow in the southern hemisphere’s winters. And while cold winters aren’t rare in southern Africa, snow is and ski resorts are even rarer. At an altitude of 3,000 meters (9,842 feet), Afriski in Lesotho’s Maluti Mountains is Africa’s only operating ski resort south of the equator.

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

Bafana Nadida, who comes from the sprawling urban township of Soweto in Johannesburg, was delighted with putting ski boots on for the first time. He planned a day of ski lessons, taking pictures and just playing about in the snow.

Skiers and snowboarders lined up to rent the proper gear. Some were given pointers by Hope Ramokotjo, who is from Lesotho and has worked as a self-taught ski and snowboard instructor for 12 years. His wide smile and deep, reassuring voice puts beginners at ease.

“Push your heels out. Don’t pull your shoulders,” Ramokotjo called out to his class of keen yet inexperienced African skiers as they wobbled along on the snow. “Here you go! Nice!”

Afriski’s Kapoko Snow Park is the only freestyle snow park on the continent. Competitors lined up last month for the annual Winter Whip Slopestyle snowboard and ski competition. Sekholo Ramonotsi, a 13-year-old from the Lesotho city of Butha-Buthe who practices regularly at Afriski, won the junior snowboard and ski divisions.

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

London-born Meka Lebohang Ejindu said he has taught 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.

“For a competition like this to happen in southern Africa is so heartwarming,” he said.

Afriski may not be at the level of Europe’s vast Alpine resorts but a love of winter sports is catching.

At Afriski’s Sky Restaurant and Gondola Cafe, happy hour starts at 10 a.m. and skiers and boarders show off their winter fashions and party to house music, beers in hand. Some claim the bar is the highest in Africa, although that’s challenged by the Sani Mountain Lodge, 80 miles to the east on the Lesotho-South Africa border.

What no one can dispute is this crowd went skiing in Africa.


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