Road Conditions and Safety: The majority of Lesotho?s 5,000 miles of roads remain unpaved. A few main rural highways are comparable to U.S. two-lane rural roads, but lane markings, signs, shoulders and guardrails do not meet U.S. standards. Lesotho’s mountainous terrain makes driving on secondary roads hazardous. Unpaved roads in the interior?often narrow, winding, and steep?are poorly maintained. For travel in the interior, especially in wet or snowy weather, a high ground clearance or four-wheel-drive vehicle is recommended. Four-wheel-drive is also a requirement for entering or departing Lesotho through the Sani Pass on the eastern border. The authority for road safety issues rests with the Lesotho Mounted Police Service; there are no auto clubs or reliable ambulance services. Drivers should contact the police in case of road emergencies.
Traffic Laws: Traffic moves on the left, with right-hand drive vehicles. Never assume right-of-way, as aggressive and unpredictable local driving habits result in frequent collisions. Lesotho has a high number of traffic-related deaths and injuries. Driving after dark is dangerous due to the absence of street lighting, livestock on the roads, and the prevalence of crime?including incidents of carjacking. Travel is best done by private car. Rental cars are available in Maseru, and cars rented in neighboring South Africa may be brought into Lesotho with the written permission of the rental company.
Public Transportation: Although bus and public taxi services exist, chronic overloading combined with inadequate vehicle maintenance and lack of driver training make them unsafe. Some private taxi services are available in the capital, but roving mini-bus taxis should be avoided. There is no passenger train service in Lesotho.
See our Road Safety page for more information.
Aviation Safety Oversight: As there is no direct commercial air service to the United States by carriers registered in Lesotho, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has not assessed the government of Lesotho?s Civil Aviation Authority for compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards. Further information may be found on the FAA?s safety assessment page.
Medical facilities in Lesotho are limited and ambulance service is unreliable. Specialist care is available in Bloemfontein, South Africa, 90 miles away. U.S. Embassy Maseru maintains a list of physicians and other health care professionals, but does not guarantee service or provide recommendations.
We do not pay medical bills. Be aware that U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.
Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.
If traveling with prescription medication, check with the government of Lesotho, and its MFA to ensure the medication is legal in Lesotho. Always carry an adequate supply of your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor?s prescription.
Lesotho has one of the highest HIV rates in the world. Approximately one-quarter of the adult population of Lesotho infected with HIV. Travelers are advised to practice safe sex if engaging in sexual activity, or if exposed to blood products through injuries or rendering assistance to accident victims.
The following diseases are prevalent:
Vaccinations: Be up-to-date on all vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Further health information:
Local laws and Special Circumstances
Criminal Penalties: You are subject to local laws. If you violate local laws, even unknowingly, you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. See our webpage for further information.
Extreme weather preparation: Visitors to the interior of Lesotho should bring clothing and equipment suitable for extreme cold weather during the winter months of June through August. Weather conditions can deteriorate rapidly in the mountains, and snow may close mountain passes. Temperatures can drop below freezing even in the lowlands.
Lesotho has one of the highest rates of lightning strikes per square mile in the world, and lightning-related deaths are not uncommon. If you find yourself in a storm, find shelter in a building or car.
Faith-Based Travelers: See our following webpages for details:
- Faith-Based Travel Information
- International Religious Freedom Report ? see country reports
- Human Rights Report ? see country reports
- Hajj Fact Sheet for Travelers
- Best Practices for Volunteering Abroad
LGBTI Travelers: Consensual same-sex sexual relations between men are criminalized in Lesotho, although the U.S. Embassy is not aware of any recent arrests or prosecutions. There is no explicit prohibition of consensual same-sex sexual relations between women. See our LGBTI Travel Information page and section 6 of our Human Rights report for further details.
Travelers Who Require Accessibility Assistance: The Buildings Control Act of 1995 requires that all buildings be made accessible, but enforcement thus far has been negligible. There are no mandatory standards of accessibility for sidewalks, road crossings, public transportation, and parking areas. There are no free or reduced fares for transport, and very few accessible places of lodging, medical facilities, restaurants, cafes, or bars.
Women Travelers: See our travel tips for Women Travelers.
Safety and Security
Crime: Lesotho has a high crime rate, and foreigners must remain vigilant at all times. Foreigners are frequently targeted and robbed, and have been car-jacked and killed. U.S. citizens have reported incidents ? including sexual assault, armed and unarmed confrontation, and home invasion ? occurring in broad daylight. There are no indications that U.S. citizens are specifically targeted.
Crime is most prevalent in urban areas but can happen anywhere. Criminal incidents have occurred in popular restaurants, along poorly lit or unlit roads, and locations frequented by foreigners. Victims have included tourists, volunteer workers, and employees of non-governmental organizations.
Extra caution should be exercised while walking through downtown Maseru, both at night and during the day. You are urged to exercise caution and avoid crowds, demonstrations, or any other form of public gathering. Traveling alone or at night is particularly dangerous due to limited street lighting and undeveloped road conditions.
There is a serious problem with theft from baggage at O.R. Tambo International Airport (Johannesburg), a required transit point for air travel to Lesotho. You should secure your luggage with Transportation Security Administration (TSA) approved locks, use an airport plastic wrapping service, and avoid placing any items of value in checked luggage. Make an inventory of items in checked baggage to aid in claims processing if theft does occur.
Victims of Crime:
Report crimes to the local police at (266) 2231 2943 or (266) 2232 2099. These numbers should be answered by police 24/7, but have been known to be out of service. Also contact the U.S. Embassy at (266) 2231-2666 Ext: 4124 or (266) 5885-4035 after hours.
Remember that local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.
See our webpage on help for U.S. victims of crime overseas.
- help you find appropriate medical care
- assist you in reporting a crime to the police
- contact relatives or friends with your written consent
- explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
- provide a list of local attorneys
- provide our information on victim?s compensation programs in the U.S.
- provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
- help you find accommodation and arrange flights home
- replace a stolen or lost passport
Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the Embassy for assistance.
Tourism: The tourism industry is unevenly regulated, and safety inspections for equipment and facilities do not commonly occur. Hazardous areas/activities are not always identified with appropriate signage, and staff may not be trained or certified either by the host government or by recognized authorities in the field. In the event of an injury, appropriate medical treatment is typically available only in/near major cities. First responders are generally unable to access areas outside of major cities and to provide urgent medical treatment. U.S. citizens are encouraged to purchase medical evacuation insurance. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.
Entry exit Requirementsh
U.S. citizens entering Lesotho must present a valid passport. Visas are not required for U.S. citizens visiting for 30 days or fewer. U.S. citizens may apply for extensions of an additional 30 days at a time through the Office of Immigration. The maximum number of 30 day extensions permitted is five, totaling 180 days. After 180 days U.S. citizens are required to apply for a visa online Vaccination for yellow fever is a common requirement throughout the region, and you should carry your international vaccination cards with you. For more information concerning entry requirements, travelers may contact the Embassy of the Kingdom of Lesotho, 2511 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008, tel. (202) 797-5533. Visit the Lesotho’s E-Visa Website for the most current visa information.
Attention new South Africa Regulations: Travelers who intend to visit or transfer through South Africa must have at least two blank (unstamped) visa pages and carry unabridged birth certificates for all children under 18. Please see Country Specific Information for South Africa for additional information.
While U.S. citizens normally do not need a visa for South Africa if you plan to stay less than 90 days, South African visa requirements are different for individuals who are residents of Lesotho. It is common for foreigners residing in Lesotho to receive seven-day visas when crossing into South Africa by road. Travelers who overstay in South Africa may be declared ?undesirable? by the immigration authorities and barred from entering South Africa. Travelers planning to visit South Africa for a longer period should check with the High Commission of South Africa in Maseru on how to obtain a visa for a longer stay.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of Lesotho.
See the Department of State?s Fact Sheet on Lesotho for information on U.S. – Lesotho relations.
Travel Embassy and Consulate
254 Kingsway Avenue
Maseru 100, Lesotho
Telephone: +(266) 2231-2666
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(266) 5888-4035
Fax: +(266) 2231-0116