Lesotho Basics

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The Basics

Time: GMT +2

Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. The three-prong, round pin South African plug is used.

Money: The Lesotho loti (LSL) is the official currency of Lesotho, and is divided into 100 lisente. It has the same value as the South African rand, which is accepted as legal currency. Banks and exchange bureaus are found in Maseru and in most main towns. Most major hotels, shops, restaurants, and travel agencies accept credit cards. Although it is best to check with credit and debit card companies as to their acceptance before leaving home. Travellers' cheques can be cashed at banks in Maseru. Local ATMs in Lesotho have the facility to accept international ATM cards but are unreliable.

Currency Exchange Rates

LSL1.00 = USD 0.07GBP 0.05CAD 0.09AUD 0.10ZAR 1.00EUR 0.06NZD 0.10
Note: These rates are not updated daily and should be used as a guideline only.

Language: Sesotho and English are the official languages, but Xhosa and Zulu are widely spoken.

Entry requirements for Americans: US citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Lesotho. No visa required for stays of up to 180 days.

Entry requirements for UK nationals: British citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Lesotho. British passport holders can obtain visas on arrival. Overstaying without proper authority may lead to time in detenion.

Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadian citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Lesotho. A visa is required.

Entry requirements for Australians: Australian citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Lesotho. A visa is required.

Entry requirements for South Africans: South African citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Lesotho. No visa is required.

Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Lesotho. A visa is required for stays longer than 14 days.

Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish citizens must have a passport that is valid upon their arrival in Lesotho. No visa is required for stays of up to 90 days.

Passport/Visa Note: All foreign passengers to Lesotho must hold return/onward tickets, the necessary travel documentation for their next destination, and sufficient funds to cover their expenses while in the country. Visa-exempt visitors who wish to stay in Lesotho for longer than their allotted 14 days, should apply for extensions at the Lesotho Immigration Authorities within the initial 14-day period. Note that a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required to enter Lesotho, if arriving within six days of leaving or transiting through an infected area. NOTE: It is highly recommended that your passport has at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.

Getting around: As in neighbouring South Africa, getting around in Lesotho for most people involves minibus taxis. The service is quick and inexpensive, but confusing for foreigners and very uncomfortable as the drivers pack the vehicles as tightly as possible. Ask another passenger what the fare is to avoid being overcharged. There are regular taxis available, which have a yellow stripe down the side. It's best to agree on a fare before getting into the car. It is possible to hire a car at the airport or at either of the Sun Hotels, although most travellers find it cheaper to hire a vehicle in South Africa. If you do so, be sure to get permission to take it into Lesotho.

Travel Health: Lesotho's high altitude and crisp mountain air does not present many health problems for travellers, although its high elevation does make altitude sickness a possibility for recently arrived visitors. A yellow fever certificate is required from travellers coming from an infected area. HIV/AIDS is prevalent. Water should not be drunk unless it is boiled or filtered. There is a lack of good medical facilities, and medical attention is often sought in neighbouring South Africa. Visitors should carry a personal supply of medicine as supplies are limited. Lesotho's Flying Doctor service provides emergency medical services to remote parts of the country. Medical insurance is essential and should include emergency air evacuation coverage, especially if planning to spend time in remote mountainous regions.

Tipping: All service staff, including tour guides and game rangers, are customarily tipped between 10-15 percent, which they rely on to boost their low wages.

Safety Information: Safety in Lesotho is not generally a serious issue but there has been an increase in opportunistic crime and gun-related crimes, due to a high unemployment rate in the cities. Most incidents occur in Maseru, but visitors should also be alert elsewhere to theft, car hijackings, and muggings. Muggers often target foreigners and foreign vehicles have been involved in hijackings in the past, near Malealea Lodge south of Maseru. Avoid walking around with valuables or else keep them out of sight, and do not walk alone in isolated areas or in Maseru after dark. Driving through rural areas after dark is also not recommended. Sporadic demonstrations are possible and should be avoided if possible.

Local Customs: Don't take photographs of government buildings, the airport, or the palace. It is always best to ask if unsure. It is customary to ask permission from the local village Headman or Chief before camping, and to inform them if spending any time within his village. Sadly, homosexuality is illegal so visitors should be cautious and discreet.

Business: Business in Lesotho tends to follow usual business practices: be punctual, exchange business cards, and show respect for your hosts, but anticipate a generally relaxed atmosphere. Suits and ties are the norm, though a lightweight material is best. Business hours are usually from 8.30am to 12.30pm and 2pm to 4.30pm Mondays to Fridays, and 8am to 1pm on Saturdays.

Communications: The international dialling code for Lesotho is +266. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0027 for South Africa). There are no city/area codes required. Telephone and fax services are available in all main towns and at major hotels. Internet cafes are available in Maseru. A GSM 900 mobile network is limited to the main urban areas and has limited active roaming agreements with other mobile phone operators. Visitors should check with their local networks to see if they have roaming agreements with the operators in Lesotho.

Duty Free: Travellers to Lesotho do not have to pay duty on 200 cigarettes, 20 cigars, and 250g tobacco; 2 litres wine and 1 litre of alcohol; 250ml eau de toilette and 50ml perfume; other gifts to the value of LSL 5000. No liquor may be imported by South African nationals.


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