Ha Baroana Cave Paintings – Metolong, Lesotho - Atlas Obscura

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Ha Baroana Cave Paintings

Metolong, Lesotho

The walls of this sandstone outcropping are covered with 2,000-year-old artwork. 


Deep in the cradle of civilization, you can still find traces of our ancient ancestors. Lesotho’s amazing Ha Baroana site is only an hour’s drive from the capital of Maseru, and on the far side of the Liphiring River, tucked inconspicuously beneath a black-and-tan cave, sit a remarkably preserved stretch of paintings.

The walls of Ha Baroana, which translates as “home of the bushmen,” are decorated with paintings of animals like leopards, lions, antelope, cranes, and guinea fowls, as well as paintings of people hunting and dancing. It has been estimated that the paintings were made about 2,000 years ago by the San people, a group of hunter-gatherers who have inhabited southern Africa for thousands of years, long before the arrival of Bantu-speaking nations.

Though the paintings are faded from years of exposure to the elements, it’s still possible to make out a series of hunting scenes, a sight that is sure to give even the most jaded wanderer chills.

Know Before You Go

It's best to take a local guide with a 4x4, as the last several kilometers of the trip call for crossing a series of working pastures.  Although the steep, scenic hike down into the river valley will be almost as impressive as the paintings themselves, the path isn't suitable for anyone with mobility issues, and can be downright treacherous during the rainy summer season.  

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