USEFUL INFORMATION

Facts and figures

Population – 2.008 million (2016 National Census)

People – Basotho, singular Mosotho
Official Languages – English and Sesotho

Religion – Christian; other traditional beliefs

Land Area – 30 355 square kilometres

Highest point – Thabana Ntlenyana: 3 482 metres

Lowest point – Junction of the Senqu (Orange) and Makhaleng rivers: 1 388 metres

Time zone – GMT plus two hours

Weights & Measures – Metric system

Electricity Supply – 220V alternating current
Dialling Code – International code + 266

Climate

Summers (November to January) in Lesotho are hot, with temperatures reaching 30°C (86°F) during the day although the nights are much cooler. There is a likelihood of cloudy and rainy conditions and localised thunderstorms between October and March, which is the rainy season. Winter (May to August) brings snow to the Maloti Mountains and occasionally to the lowlands, with crisp, clear days. Temperatures often drop below freezing – as low as -16°C (3°F) on a winter’s night.

Annual rainfall ranges from 500mm per year in the Senqu Valley to about 1 000mm annually in the mountainous northern and eastern border regions. As the weather is unpredictable, and can change rapidly during the day at any time of year, it is advisable for travellers to take precautionary measures, especially when hiking.

Clothing 
Light clothing such as T-shirts and shorts are adequate during the summer, but raincoats are a necessity. Warmer clothing, such as long trousers and jacket/jerseys, is necessary in Spring and Autumn, particularly in the evenings. During winter – or at any time in the mountains – warm clothing, including an anorak, is essential.


Health requirements

Lesotho’s high altitude means that it is free from malaria. A valid certificate is needed for tourists coming from countries where yellow fever and cholera are endemic. While there are good facilities at Maseru’s Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital, serious medical conditions may require treatment at a hospital in neighbouring South Africa.

Safety

Lesotho is a safe destination, and the people are friendly and welcoming. While crime does exist in some of the larger towns, where the usual precautions should be taken, it is not a widespread problem.

Money
Lesotho’s standard unit of currency is the loti (plural maloti, symbol M), which is equivalent to the South African rand (which is also legal tender in Lesotho) and is divided into 100 lisente (singular ‘sente’, symbol ‘s’). Notes comprise M200, M100, M50, M20 and M10; coins comprise M5, M2, 50s, 20s, 10s and 5s. Travellers’ cheques and most credit cards may be used in Lesotho. There are no restrictions on the amount of money tourists may bring into the country.

Banks

Lesotho’s three commercial banks comprise Standard Lesotho Bank, Nedbank and First National Bank, which all have ATMs and offer exchange services in their main Maseru branches. Standard and First National banks have branches and ATMs in all of Lesotho’s ten districts, while Nedbank is represented in all districts except for Quthing, Qacha’s Nek, Mokhotlong and Thaba-Tseka.

Hours of business

Normal banking hours are Mondays to Fridays 08:30 – 15:30, Saturdays 08:30 – 12:00. Most shops are open Mondays to Fridays 08:00 – 18:00, Saturdays and Sundays 09:00 – 13:00. Government offices are open Mondays to Fridays 08:00 – 12:45 and 14:00 – 16:30.

Embassies & consulates

Embassies and consulates situated in Maseru include: China (tel 22 316 521); Denmark (tel 22 316 937); Netherlands (tel 22 312 114); South Africa (tel 22 225 800); USA (tel 22 312 666).

Visas

Visitors must have a passport that is valid for six months beyond the intended length of stay. Visas are required, except for citizens of countries which have visa abolition agreements with Lesotho and citizens of some Commonwealth countries. Please confirm with Lesotho’s embassies abroad.

Online visa applications

An eVisa may be obtained by submitting the necessary personal information and paying the requisite cost by either MasterCard or Visa. Applicants are no longer required to schedule appointments at the Embassy or Consulate. For more information please visit: http://evisalesotho.com/

Customs regulations

The following items and quantities to a total value not exceeding M500.00 per person are allowed under rebate duty:

2 litres of wine, 1 litre spirits or other alcoholic beverages

200 cigarettes, 250 grams pipe tobacco, and
20 cigars

50 millilitres perfume

Any excess is charged import duty at a flat rate of
20 percent.

Prohibited and restricted goods include counterfeit coins or notes; dangerous weapons; blasphemous material; indecent or obscene works or articles of an inflammatory nature. Visitors from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland are not permitted to bring liquor into Lesotho. Customs officers and members of the police force give highest priority to drug detection and the legal penalties for drug trafficking are severe.

Domestic pets, livestock, seeds, bulbs, plants and trees may not be imported without payment of customs and sales duty and are subject to quarantine restrictions. Permits may be obtained from: The Principal Secretary; Ministry of Agriculture & Food Security; PO Box 24; Maseru 100; Lesotho.

Border posts

Most people who visit Lesotho enter the country from South Africa via one of the 11 border checkpoints:

Caledonspoort 06:00-22:00

Maputsoe 24 hours
Makhaleng Bridge 08:00-16:00

Maseru Bridge 24 hours

Peka Bridge 08:00-16:00

Qacha’s Nek 08:00-20:00

Ramatselitso’s Gate 08:00-18:00

Sani Pass 08:00-16:00

Sephapho’s Gate 08:00-16:00

Tele Bridge 08:00-22:00

Van Rooyen’s Gate 06:00-20:00

Road transport

Cars travel on the left hand side of the road and the use of seat belts is compulsory. The speed limit on national highways is 80 km/hour and in urban or built up areas 50 km/hour. Drivers’ licences issued in most countries are valid in Lesotho for a period of up to six months, provided they are printed in English or are accompanied by a certified translation. International driving permits are also recognised. While much of the road network consists of good, tarred roads, four-wheel-drive vehicles are needed in mountainous areas such as Mokhotlong. Many South African car rental firms have branches in Maseru.

Distance table

Tarred roads connect the capital Maseru to various main centres in the southern African region.

Maseru to Durban (South Africa) – 600 km

Maseru to East London (South Africa) – 583 km

Maseru to Port Elizabeth (South Africa) – 738 km

Maseru to Cape Town (South Africa) – 1 165 km

Maseru to Johannesburg (South Africa) – 455 km

Maseru to Bloemfontein (South Africa) – 155 km

Maseru to Gaborone (Botswana) – 630 km

Maseru to Mbabane (Swaziland) – 635 km

Air transport

Lesotho has one international airport, Moshoeshoe I International Airport (tel 52 500 759) near Maseru. There are also 12 airstrips providing access by air to rural and mountainous areas. SA Airlink
(tel 22 350 418/9) offers up to five flights per day to OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg.

Public holidays 2018

New Year’s Day01 January

Moshoeshoe’s Day 11 March

Good Friday 30 March

Easter Monday 2 April

Workers’ Day 01 May

Ascension Day 10 May

Africa/Heroes’ Day 25 May King Letsie III’s Birthday 17 July

Independence Day 04 October Christmas Day 25 December

Boxing Day 26 December

Public holidays 2019

New Year’s Day01 January

Moshoeshoe’s Day 11 March

Good Friday 19 April

Easter Monday 22 April

Workers’ Day 01 May

Africa/Heroes’ Day 25 May Ascension Day 30 May

King Letsie III’s Birthday 17 July

Independence Day 04 October Christmas Day 25 December

Boxing Day 26 December

Useful words & phrases in Sesotho

Hello (singular) – Khotso (literally ‘peace’) or lumela

Hello (plural) – Khotsong or lumelang

Welcome (singular) – Kena ka kgotso (singular)

Welcome (plural) – Kenang ka kgotso (plural)

How are you? – U phela joang?

Excuse me – Ntshwarele

Thank you – Ke a leboha

Goodbye – Tsamaea hantle

Help! – Thusa!

No – Tjhee

Yes – Ee

Please – a kopo / ako…/…hle

What is the time? – Ke nako mang?

What is your name? – Lebitso la hao ke mang?

My name is – Lebitso la ka ke

How much is this? – Ke bokae?

Why? – Hobaneng?