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General information about Lesotho

Sovereign: King Letsie III

Capital: Maseru

Population: 2.2 million

Area: 30,355 sq km (11,720 sq miles)

Major languages: Sesotho, English

Currency: Loti (South African Rands are also used at a 1:1 exchange rate)

Lesotho’s admirable motto: Khotso, pula, nala – Peace, rain, prosperity

Driving Laws in Lesotho

Driving Laws in Lesotho
The following info came from a Lesotho vehicle hire company’s website:

Seat Belts
Seat belt laws in Lesotho insist that everyone in a moving vehicle is wearing one. You will be fined if you don’t.

Drinking and Driving
The drink driving laws in Lesotho are the same as in the UK. You must have no more than 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood and there are regular police patrols throughout the year to catch motorists who break the law.

Must Have Documents
There’s quite a range of documentation required:

  • Valid passport.
  • Original vehicle registration document.
  • Owner’s written authority if not the driver.
  • Authority from the finance company if the car is secured against a debt.

Speed Limits
The speed limits for Lesotho are as follows:

Open roads: 80 km/h
In Town: 50 km/h

Minimum Driving Age
You have to be at least 18 to be able to drive in Lesotho. If you’re renting a car the minimum age is 21. If you’re less than 25 years’ old you’re likely to have to pay a premium for your lack of experience and age.

Safety Camera Warning Devices
Detectors for safety cameras are not illegal in Lesotho but we recommend that given the state of the roads you stick to the speed limits.

On the Spot Fines
If you are stopped by the police, do not be tempted to offer to pay a bribe. You’ll find that sometimes you are asked to pay cash when stopped. If you can safely refuse, do so as it prolongs the campaign to stamp out corruption. You should be given a ticket detailing the offence and how to pay the fine indicated.

Child Safety Rules
In Lesotho, there are no specific laws for the protection of children so it is up to you to ensure they are kept safe.

Animal Safety Rules
Drivers need to be alert to the safety of animals on the roads as Lesotho take animal welfare very seriously.

Behaviour of drivers towards pedestrians
Drivers need to be especially alert to the presence of pedestrian crossings on all types of road and should stop and not obstruct a pedestrian who has stepped onto such a crossing.
Drivers should stop and not obstruct a pedestrian who is boarding or alighting from a public motor vehicle.
Drivers should not cut across or obstruct columns or processions of people, such as lines of school children, who are accompanied by a person in charge.

Rules of the Road
Standard international driving laws apply with one or two exceptions:

  • In Lesotho you’ll drive on the left.
  • Many roads are compacted dirt which are fine in the dry season but will require a 4 x 4 in the rainy season.
  • Watch out for people stepping out into the road without looking.

Towing Regulations
There are no specific regulations for towing but make sure you can see clearly and that the vehicle is securely attached. Make sure your trailer licence is up to date as this normally checked exiting the border.

Speed Cameras
There are no fixed speed cameras in Lesotho and mobile speed traps are rare, usually only used after a speed related accident in that area. People generally drive sensibly and in accordance with road conditions although there are plenty that take advantage of the lax police control on speed!

Using Mobile Phones when driving
Whilst many drivers can be seen on their phones whilst travelling around, it is illegal to do so without a hands free kit.

Parking regulations
Thefts from cars is prevalent in Lesotho so you should try to park somewhere visible and at night, well lit. If possible, use attended parking lots.

Paid parking
You’ll find plenty of free parking but Lesotho is a country where it’s sensible to pay the small parking fees and know that your car and you will be safe. There are attended garages and lots in the main cities, elsewhere just use common sense and park as close as you can to your destination.

Enforcement of parking is rarely done and so you are unlikely to get a ticket for parking except if you seriously overstay your time in a parking garage.

Disabled parking
There is little in the way of concessions for disabled drivers but most people are friendly and helpful and will try to find you a more convenient place to park.

Motor Way Signs
The motorways in Lesotho are called highways and are long distance routes across the country, the main one being the A3. Motorway signs are green with white writing.

Lesotho speaks two official languages; Sesotho and English. All signs are in English and everyone speaks the language too!

Traffic Lights
You won’t find many traffic lights in Lesotho and they’ll be in the main cities. The ones you do encounter follow the internationally recognised sequences and so there should be no confusion.

Toll Roads
There are several toll roads in Lesotho, all of them being the main fast highways. Tolls are not expensive but they allow you to use faster and safer stretches of road.

The emergency number in Lesotho is 123 for the police, 122 for the fire service and 121 for the ambulance.

What to do in an emergency

  • If travelling away from the main roads in Lesotho you should ensure you have a means of communication, plenty of water and spare fuel. If you break down, rescue can be some time away. You should ensure that you have contact numbers of a rescue organisation with you or use the number given to you by your hire car agent in Lesotho.
  • In the event of an accident you will often find that if there is simply damage to the vehicles, the matter will be sorted out in cash on the spot. If someone has been injured or the damage is severe then you’ll need to exchange insurance details and call the police and medical services as appropriate. If possible, don’t move the vehicles but if they have to be moved for safety reasons, take a photograph of the scene.

Fuel Costs
As of June 2023, the average price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in Lesotho is around R20.00 per litre, whilst diesel is slightly more expensive. Prices can vary between the towns and the smaller villages.

Interesting Information and Tourist attractions in Lesotho

The Kingdom in the Sky

  • Lesotho has the ‘highest low point’ of any country: Lesotho is extremely mountainous. No other nation can claim a base altitude as lofty as Lesotho’s at 1,400m (4,593ft). It is the only independent state on the planet which exists entirely above 1,000m (3,281ft) – more than 80% of the country is located above 1,800 meters.

The largest of the world’s independent states completely surrounded by the territory of another country

  • At just over 30,355 sq km (11,720 sq mi) Lesotho is larger than the Vatican City and San Marino. Additionally, it is the only such state outside of the Italian peninsula, and the only one that is not a microstate. Lesotho has a population of over 2 million people.

Lesotho in the limelight

  • Ryan Coogler, director of the 2018 film Black Panther, states that his Wakanda was inspired by Lesotho and as one can see Basotho blankets be used as armour, they have also became more known as a result of the film.
  • The film This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection became the first Lesotho film to be submitted (November 2020) for the Academy Award for Best International Feature Film.

Places to visit (Visit Lesotho)

Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village

  • Thaba Bosiu lies at the historic and spiritual heart of the Sotho Kingdom. Rising to an altitude of 1,800m only 20km east of Maseru, this near-impregnable sandstone plateau served as the residence and military stronghold of Moshoeshoe I, the kingdom’s founding father, throughout most of his mid-19th century reign.

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Bokang Nature Reserve

  • Bisected by the surfaced A25 as it runs between Leribe and Katse Dam, lofty Bokong is a small but very scenic and hiker-friendly reserve spanning altitudes of 2,800 to 3,200 metres. It is best-known as the site of the attractive Lepaqoa Falls, which tumbles horseshoe-like over a 60-metre cliff, and often freezes in winter to form a column of solid ice.

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Ha Baroana

  • One of the most impressive rock art sites in Lesotho, ancient Ha Baroana adorns a massive sandstone overhang flanking the Liphiring River near the village of Matela some 40km east of Maseru.

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Ha Kome Cave Dwellings

  • The tall, deep rock overhangs that characterise the highlands of Lesotho have provided shelter to humans since time immemorial. In prehistoric times, these spacious natural refuges are where San (Bushman) families would huddle together around a fire to eat and exchange stories, while their shamans performed mysterious trance rituals and adorned the walls with colourful rock paintings.

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Katse Dam

  • One of the most ambitious engineering projects ever undertaken in South Africa, Katse is the continent’s second-largest double-curvature arch dam. Some 710-metres long and 185-metres high, it impounds a deep, squiggly, multi-tendrilled reservoir that extends back more than 30km along the Malibamat’so River when full and has a total surface area of 38.5 square kilometres.

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Katse Botanical Garden

  • The gardens were created as a result of plant rescue missions to mitigate the impact of the Katse Dam, particularly spiral aloes. The collection has a focus on traditional Sesotho medicinal plants and has a large seed bank.  At an altitude of 2,229 meters it claims to be the highest botanical garden in the southern hemisphere.

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Lake Letsie

  • The largest natural freshwater body in Lesotho, remote and little-visited Lake Letsie is a true off-the-beaten-track scenic gem that will prove particularly rewarding to birdwatchers. A gorgeous Alpine lake set an at an altitude of above 3,000m, Letsie occupies a grassy 800ha valley enclosed surrounded by rocky heather-clad slopes that bloom bright yellow in spring.

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  • A green but busy little town, Leribe stands on the banks of the Hlotse River close to the South African border northeast of Maseru, and is the administrative centre of the district of that name. Founded in 1876 by the British missionary John Widdicombe, Leribe was fortified four years later, during the so-called Gun War, when a group of Basotho chiefs rose up against the Cape colonial administration to reassert their right to bear arms.

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Liphofung Nature Reserve

  • Lesotho’s smallest nature reserve protects a dramatic and atmospheric rock overhang known for its historical association with the 19th-century King Moshoeshoe I and for housing a collection of rock paintings attributed to the San (Bushmen) hunter-gatherers who inhabited the region in prehistoric times.

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  • Possibly the most popular travel destination in Lesotho, Malealea is a relaxed and peaceful village set at a relatively moderate altitude of 2,000 metres in the western highlands south of Maseru. Reached via the spectacular Gate to Paradise Pass, it is renowned as a base for pony trekking, but other attractions range from hiking and mountain biking to community tours and excursions to see ancient Bushman paintings.

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  • Situated in the Thaba Putsoa (‘Blue Mountains’) about 115km southeast of Maseru, Semonkong (‘Place of Smoke’) is a small highland town whose name alludes to the spectacular cloud of spray thrown up by the nearby Maletsunyane Waterfall when it’s in full flow. Possibly the single best-known natural feature in Lesotho, Maletsunyane is one of Africa’s tallest single-drop waterfalls, plummeting a full 192 metres over a sheer basaltic ledge into a narrow gorge hemmed in by steep green slopes and sandstone cliffs.

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Semonkong Lodge

  • Experience one of the most beautiful and remote countries in Africa with Semonkong Lodge. Explore this area on the iconic Basotho pony, mountain bikes or dare to take on the highest commercial abseil in the world. Just down the river from the lodge, the mighty Maletsunyane Falls is one of the highest single dropping Falls in Africa.

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Maletsunyane Falls

  • Maletsunyane Waterfalls, one of the highest single dropping waterfalls in the Southern Hemisphere, plummets 192 metres into a spectacular gorge creating clouds of spray visible from afar.

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Mount Moorosi

  • Straddling the A4 between Quthing and Qacha’s Nek, the sprawling small town of Mount Moorosi boasts a spectacular setting overlooking the Senqu (Orange) River at the base of a towering rocky pinnacle called Mokotjomela.

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  • Administrative capital of Lesotho’s southernmost district, Quthing is relatively large hillside settlement split between a bustling commercial lower town and more sedate and green residential upper town. Also known as Moyeni (‘Place of Wind’), it was established in 1877 on the south bank of the Silver Spruit shortly before its confluence with the Senqu (Orange) River as it flows towards the border with South Africa.

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Quthing Dinosaur Footprints

  • Quthing’s main claim to fame is the large amount of dinosaur footprints, some of which are easily accessible very close to the town. this small building houses 230 million year old footprints as well as a craft shop.

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Mohale Dam

  • The tallest rock-fill concrete-face dam anywhere in Africa, Mohale lies almost 100km east of Maseru along a dramatic road that traverses a sequence of three major mountain passes as it ascends into the majestic central highlands.

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Morija and Matsieng

  • Historic Morija, one of Lesotho’s oldest and prettiest towns, is nestled on well-wooded slopes overlooked by the spectacular sandstone escarpment of Mount Makhoarane, 45km south of Maseru.

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Maeder House Gallery and Morija Arts Centre

  • Maeder House is one of the oldest buildings in Lesotho, dating back to 1843. It was the home of missionary artisan and artist Francois Maeder. The gallery provides Basotho artists with a place to exhibit and sell their work. The Morija Art Centre is adjacent to Maeder House located in a series of old storerooms christened Linotšing (The Beehive).

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Afriski Mountain Resort

  • Afriski Mountain Resort, tucked away in the northern highlands, provides a gateway to a largely untapped world of high-altitude adventure. Situated in the heart of the Drakensberg-Maluti Mountains, this luxury resort caters to every taste and offers the perfect escape for sport and outdoor enthusiasts, corporate parties as well as families.

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  • Set in a fertile valley hemmed in by tall sandstone cliffs, the relatively large town of Roma is, as its name suggests, the site of the country’s oldest Catholic mission, founded by Father Joseph Gérard in 1862.

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Sani Top

  • Situated at the 2,874-metre summit of southern Africa’s most famous and challenging road pass, Sani Top makes a fabulous introduction to Lesotho. Here you’ll find thrilling mountain scenery, wonderful hiking opportunities, down-to-earth cultural tours and world-class birding complemented by log fires, tasty glühwein and hearty home-style cooking at Africa’s highest pub.

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Sani Mountain Lodge

  • The Lodge is situated on the border between South Africa and Lesotho, sitting 2874m above sea level. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is by far one of the best kept secrets in Africa. Although the trek to get to us is tricky, where only 4×4’s are able to navigate the famous Sani Mountain Pass. You will be sure to feel like you’ve arrived in heaven above the clouds when you arrive. Choose from a wide range of activities including 4×4 tours, hiking, horse riding, and cultural tours.

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Sehlabathebe National Park

  • Established in 1970 as Lesotho’s first national park, the fabulously scenic and remote Sehlabathebe protects 65 square kilometres of rolling boulder-studded grassland set below the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg escarpment as it runs along the border with South Africa.

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  • Founded in 1886 by King Moshoeshoe I’s son Chief Gabasheane Masupha, Teya-Teyaneng is a bustling market town flanked by a pair of sandy shapeshifting tributaries of the Caledon alluded to in its tongue-twisting name (literally ‘Place of Moving Sand’, and often abbreviated to TY).

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Tsatsane Bushman Paintings

  • Tucked away in the remote southeast of Lesotho, the scenic valleys carved by the Tsatsane and Sebapala rivers host some of the finest prehistoric rock art anywhere in Southern Africa. Other attractions include trout fishing and cliffside nesting colonies of Cape and beaded vulture.

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Ts’ehlanyane National Park

  • Lesotho’s most accessible national park, set in the southern Maluti Mountains 150km northeast of Maseru, is known for its rugged montane vistas, rich sub-Alpine floral diversity, beautiful waterfalls, diverse birdlife, and excellent network of hiking and horseback trails.

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Maliba Mountain Lodge

  • Maliba Lodge is the first and only 5-star luxury accommodation in Leostho. It is located in a pristine national park in the heart of this Mountain Kingdom. The park offers extensive walking and hiking trails as well as options for pony trekking, 4×4 driving, community visits, archery and bird watching.

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Qacha’s Nek Snake Park

  • Lesotho’s only snake park has anacondas, endemic puff adders and spitting cobras. The local herpetologist who owns the attraction also keeps bees. For the full experience it is recommended to do the full tour late at night.

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Morija Museum and Archives

  • We invite you to enjoy the rich history, arts & culture of the peoples of Lesotho. Whether you are from Lesotho, or Southern African or from another part of the global family, you will be welcome in Morija, Lesotho. Explore for yourself the wonders of this multi-faceted and unique heritage site. If you cannot come physically to Morija in Lesotho, then through the power of the internet you can still discover important information concerning the famous collections of Morija Museum & Archives, the works of Basotho artists, and learn more about various projects in the arts, culture, heritage management and community-based tourism.

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Kome Cave Dwelling

  • The Ha Kome Cave Village is situated at Pulane area in Berea district. The caves were a hideout for the Basia and one Bataung clans during the Lifaqane Wars and cannibalism. The cave is still inhabited by their descendants to this day. There are also faded San paintings in the cave which indicates that the San also occupied the cave some time prior to their arrival albeit briefly.

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Lesotho Mountain Crafts

  • LMC provides support & training to craft workers in Lesotho regarding design, practical skills, IT, sales and marketing. It is an Action Lesotho initiative. The twelve groups within LMC work with a range of textiles and materials, including mohair, wool, leather, horn, felt and traditional Seshoeshoe fabric. Products include wall-hangings, rugs, bags, slippers, sandals, jewellery, cushion covers, felt figures and small souvenirs.

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Roma Trading Post

  • Roma Trading Post Lodge is located a stone throw away from Lesotho’s capital Maseru and the airport, in the foothills of the mighty Maloti Mountains in Roma. The name stems from its rich history of being the base shop for pioneering trade into the mountains. Travellers can expect a rustic and luxury destination, filled with many stories from its vibrant history.

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Leribe Craft Center

  • The Leribe Craft Center is situated at the turn off towards Katse Dam on the road towards Botha Bothe. The center is both workshop and a shop, making and selling attractive handmade products-mostly made of mohair and either woven or knitted. Items on sale range from stoles and scarves to ponchos, hats and shoulder bags, as well as knee rugs and full size blankets.

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Major Bell’s Tower

  • Major Bell’s Tower was built by the British at the end of the 1870’s, and is still largely intact. Visitors can see an interesting primitive statue of a European in front of a nearby local administration office.

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Everyday Sotho Phrases

English Sotho
Apply first aid. Ho sebedisa thuso ya pele.
Are you alright? O ikutlwa jwang?
Are you hurt? Na o tswile kotsi?
Are you very busy? O qakehile? / O phathahane
bank banka
boots dibutshe / liela
buy reka
Call someone. Bitsa e mong.
cash | money Tjhelete
collision ho thulana
Come and help me. Tlo o tlo nthusa.
Do you understand? Na outlwisisa?
doctor ngaka
Excuse me Ntshwarele
Food and drinks. Dijo le dino.
Go well (to a group) Tsamayang hantle
Go well (to one person) Tsamaya hantle
Good night (to a group) Robalang hantle
Good night (to one person) Robala hantle
Goodbye | Keep well (to a group) Salang hantle
Goodbye | Keep well (to one person) Sala hantle
Hello (to greet a group) Dumelang / Khotsong
Hello (to greet one person) Dumela | Kgotso
helmet helemete
Help! Thusa!
How are you all? Le phela jwang?
How are you? O phela jwang?
hospital sepetlele
I am well too, thank you. Le nna ke a phela.
I appreciate it | Thank you. Ke a leboha.
I beg your pardon. Tshwarelo
I don’t know. Ha ke tsebe.
I don’t understand you. Ha ke o utlwisisi.
I live in (insert your town | city | country here). Ke dula (insert your town | city | country here).
I must go now. Ke lokela ho tsamaya hona jwale.
injured lemala / kotsi
Look out! Hlokomela!
luggage morwalo / thoto
medical aid medikale edi
motorcycle sethuthuthu
My name is (insert your name here). Lebitso la ka ke (insert your name here).
no tjhe / ae
pain bohloko
pain-killer sebolayadihlabi / lipilisu
passport paseporoto
petrol peterole
please ka kopo / kea kopa
private property seng sa motho
rest phomola
Sit down. Dula fatshe.
stop ema
Turn back Kgutla
Wait a minute. Ema hanyenyane | Ema motsotsotswana
water metsi
Well, thanks. And you? E ke a phela, wena?
What is your name? Lebitso la hao o mang?
What time is it? Ke nako mang?
Where do you live? O dula kae?
Where does it hurt? Ho bohloko kae?
Withdraw money. Ntsha tjhelete.
yes ee
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