Toggle Menu SearchSearch

Lesotho

smartraveller.gov.au smartraveller.gov.au

Summary

  • Exercise a high degree of caution in Lesotho because of the unpredictable security situation and high levels of crime. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times. Monitor the media and other sources about possible new security risks.
  • Armed robbery, carjacking, petty theft and pickpocketing occur frequently, particularly in the capital, Maseru. Gun-related crime and residential break-ins targeting foreigners happen. Risks increase at night and on weekends. See Safety and security.
  • Fatal motor vehicle accidents are common. Be careful on roads. Be alert to hazards, which include poorly maintained roads and roaming animals in rural areas. See Local travel.
  • The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Lesotho is very high. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection. See Health.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Lesotho. The Australian High Commission in South Africa provides consular assistance to Australians in Lesotho.
  • See Travel Smart for general advice for all travellers.

Entry and exit

Visas

You can visit Lesotho for tourism for up to 14 days without a visa. For other visits you'll need to get a visa in advance. Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) can change at short notice. Contact an Embassy or Consulate of Lesotho for up-to-date information.

Other formalities

You'll need a valid Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate to enter Lesotho if you're arriving from an area or country where yellow fever occurs. More information: Yellow fever risk and certification requirements (by country, WHO)

If you're travelling to or from Lesotho through South Africa (including transiting), read the 'Entry and exit' section of South Africa. South Africa has specific documentation requirements for children and does not accept provisional travel documents. Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate requirements apply.

Passport

Make sure your passport is valid for at least six months after the date you intend to return to Australia.

Your passport is a valuable document and attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. Always keep it in a safe place.

Be aware of attempts to obtain access to your passport by deception. If you are forced to hand over your passport, contact an Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate for advice.

If your passport is lost or stolen, you must notify the Australian Government as soon as possible.

Money

The local currency is the Lesotho Loti (LSL). The South African Rand is widely accepted.

ATMs are not always reliable. Credit cards are accepted in major centres. Contact your bank to make sure your cards will work.

Safety and security

Crime

Armed robbery, carjacking, muggings, petty theft and pickpocketing occur, particularly in the capital Maseru. There have been incidents of gun-related crime and residential break-ins targeting foreigners. Security risks increase at night and during weekends.

  • Carry only what you need. Leave other valuables in a secure location.
  • Don't tempt thieves – avoid displaying expensive watches, jewellery, phones and cameras.
  • Avoid walking alone or at night.
  • Don't leave valuables in your car.
  • Keep car doors locked and windows shut at all times, even when moving.
  • Don't pick up hitchhikers.
  • Only use ATMs in controlled areas such as banks, shops and shopping centres.
  • Keep your credit card in sight at all times when using it.
  • Due to the very high rates of HIV/AIDS, if you are a victim of violent crime, including rape, seek immediate medical assistance.

Civil unrest and political tension

Political demonstrations occur in Maseru. Demonstrations and other large public gatherings can quickly turn violent.

  • Avoid protests, demonstrations and other large gatherings.
  • Monitor the media for reports of planned or possible unrest. Avoid affected areas.
  • Follow the instructions of local authorities.

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. More information: Terrorist threat worldwide

Local travel

Road travel

You're five times more likely to be killed in a motor vehicle accident in Lesotho than in Australia. Driving hazards include poor local driving practices, poorly maintained vehicles and inadequate lighting.

Roads between main urban centres tend to be in fair condition but most roads are unpaved and poorly maintained. Some rural areas are only accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicles. Roads in mountainous areas are often steep and twisting. Wild animals and livestock often stray onto roads.

Weather conditions change rapidly in mountainous regions. During the winter months of June through to August, roads can become icy.  Heavy snowfall can result in road or mountain pass closures.

  • Check you have adequate insurance cover before you drive.
  • Familiarise yourself with local traffic laws and practices before driving.
  • Be alert to possible hazards at all times.
  • Beware of animals and pedestrians straying onto roads.
  • During winter months, be prepared to drive on icy or snow-covered roads.
  • Get up-to-date local advice on road conditions before driving in mountainous regions.

More information: Road travel

Driver's licence

You can drive in Lesotho with a valid Australian driver's licence and an International Driving Permit (IDP). You must obtain your IDP before departing Australia.

 Motorcycles

Check with your travel insurer whether your policy covers you when using a motorcycle, quad bike or similar vehicle. Your policy may not cover you for accidents that occur while using these vehicles. Wear, and ensure your passenger wears, a correctly fastened and approved helmet.

Taxis

Use only registered taxis, preferably those arranged through your hotel. Avoid hailing taxis on the street, as they are often poorly maintained.

Public transport

Avoid travel by bus, as they are often overloaded and poorly maintained.

Air travel

The Australian Government does not provide information on the safety of individual commercial airlines or flight paths. See the Aviation Safety Network website for information on aviation safety. More information: Air travel

Ecotourism and wildlife

Respect wildlife laws. Maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife. Only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.

Laws

You're subject to local laws and penalties, including those that appear harsh by Australian standards. Research local laws before travelling, especially for an extended stay.

If you're arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you under our Consular Services Charter. But we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

If you are detained or arrested, local authorities may not automatically notify the Australian Government. Ask police or prison officials to notify the Australian High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa.

Drug laws

Penalties for drug offences are severe and include lengthy imprisonment. More information: Drugs

Other laws

Serious offences, such as murder and rape, carry the death sentence.

Homosexuality is illegal. More information: LGBTI travellers

Photography around military or government buildings is prohibited.

Australian laws

Some Australian criminal laws apply overseas. If you commit these offences, you may be prosecuted in Australia. Laws include those relating to:

  • bribery of foreign public officials
  • child pornography
  • child sex tourism
  • female genital mutilation
  • forced marriage
  • money laundering
  • terrorism.

More information: Staying within the law

Dual nationals

Lesotho doesn't recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide you consular assistance if you're an Australian-Lesotho dual national and you're arrested or detained. Always travel on your Australian passport.

More information: Dual nationals

Health

Travel insurance

Take out comprehensive travel insurance before you depart to cover overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation. Make sure your policy includes adequate coverage for any pre-existing conditions.

Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for your medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs. This can be very expensive and cost you many thousands of dollars upfront.

Confirm:

  • what circumstances and activities are and are not covered under your policy
  • that you are covered for the whole time you will be away.

More information: Travel insurance

Physical and mental health

Consider your physical and mental health before travelling, especially if you have an existing medical condition.

  • At least eight weeks before you depart, see your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and implications for your health.
  • Get vaccinated before you travel.

More information:

Medication

Not all medications available over the counter or by prescription in Australia are available in other countries. Some may be considered illegal or a controlled substance, even if prescribed by an Australian doctor.

Before you leave Australia, check if your medication is legal in each country you're travelling to and find out if any quantity restrictions or certification requirements apply. Consult your doctor about alternatives well in advance of travel

Pharmaceuticals may be in short supply. Take enough legal prescription medicine with you so you remain in good health. Carry copies of your prescription and a dated letter from your doctor stating what the medicine is, how much you'll take and that it's for personal use only.

More information: Prescription medicines

Health risks

HIV/AIDS

The rate of HIV/AIDS infection is very high. Exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that may expose you to HIV.

Other infectious diseases

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, typhoid, hepatitis, filariasis and rabies) occur, with more serious outbreaks from time-to-time.

  • Use good hygiene practices including frequent handwashing.
  • Boil all drinking water or drink bottled water.
  • Avoid ice cubes.
  • Avoid raw and undercooked food.
  • Don't swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases.
  • Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering diarrhoea.

Medical facilities

Medical facilities are very basic. Use facilities in Bloemfontein, South Africa (140 kms from Maseru).

If you become seriously ill or injured, you'll need to be evacuated to a major centre in South Africa or another destination with appropriate facilities. Medical evacuation can be very expensive.  

Natural disasters

Violent thunderstorms occur in summer (November to February). Weather conditions change rapidly in mountainous regions and it can become cold even in summer months.

Be prepared for extreme cold during the winter months of June through to August.  Weather conditions change rapidly in mountainous regions. Expect travel delays due to heavy snowfall, which can result in road or mountain pass closures.

If a natural disaster occurs:

  • secure your passport in a safe, waterproof location or carry it in a waterproof bag
  • closely monitor local media and other sources such as the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System
  • follow the advice of local authorities
  • contact friends and family in Australia with regular updates about your welfare and whereabouts.

More information: Severe weather

Where to get help

Depending on what you need, your best option may be to contact your family, friends, airline, travel agent, tour operator, employer or travel insurer. Your travel insurer should have a 24-hour emergency number.

Emergency phone numbers

The local emergency numbers are (266) 2231 2934 or (266) 2232 2099. These numbers are sometimes out of service.

Tourism products and services

For complaints relating to tourism services or products, contact your service provider directly.

Australian Government

Read the Consular Services Charter for what the Australian Government can and can't do to help you overseas.

Australia doesn't have a High Commission or Consulate in Lesotho. You can get consular assistance from the nearest Australian High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa.

Australian High Commission, Pretoria

292 Orient Street
Arcadia
Pretoria 0083, South Africa
Telephone +27 (0) 12 423 6000
Facsimile +27 (0) 12 342 8442
Email pretoria@dfat.gov.au
Website southafrica.highcommission.gov.au
Facebook: Australian High Commission in South Africa
Twitter: @AuHCSouthAfrica

Check the High Commission website for information about opening hours and temporary closures that may affect service provision.

If you can't contact the High Commission in a consular emergency, contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305, or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

Additional information

Additional resources