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LESOTHO COUNTRY PAGE
Travel, Roads, Alerts, Culture, Language, Emergency
General Traveller Information
“The Kingdom in the sky”
Adventures on a Lesotho Road Trip
Banking and Currency
The official currency of Lesotho is the Loti (LSL) (plural: Maloti), which is subdivided into 100 lisente. Lesotho (along with Namibia,
South Africa and Swaziland) is a member of the Southern African Common Monetary Area, and as such the Loti is pegged 1:1 to the South African Rand (ZAR). Both the Loti and Rand are legal tender in Lesotho, though change will usually be given in Loti.
In Maseru, there are several internet cafes, although fairly cheap (usually LSL0.20-0.50 per min) they are pretty slow at best.
The cellphone network is OK in the towns, but pretty poor out in the countryside.. Vodacom has the widest coverage outside the towns. You can buy a Vodacom or Ezicel Buddie pay as you go sim card for under LSL50 in Maseru — worthwhile if you are staying for a while. Cellphones are available for hire in Maseru. Lesotho uses GSM900.
Embassies and Consulates
Please see the Lesotho Visas Page (VisasLesotho)
Please see the Lesotho Visas Section
Environment – Environmental Organisations Lesotho
Department of Environment – Lesotho
Official website of The Department of Environment the lead agency for environmental management and promotes socio-economic and environmental sustainable development.
Lesotho Council of NGO’s
Established with the objective of providing supportive services to the Lesotho’s NGO Community, the site also lists NGOs working in Lesotho.
Lesotho is truly the “Kingdom in the Sky”. All of Lesotho lies at over 1300 metres above sea level. Also known as the Switzerland of Southern Africa because of the beauty and mountainous landscape. Lesotho is over 30 000 square kilometres and is covered in gullies, sparkling waterfalls, and rugged mountains .
The HIV/AIDS incidence rate in Lesotho is the 3rd highest in the world at around 25% or 1 in 4 people infected. Even more worrying is the prevalence rate is around 50 percent for women in urban areas under 40.
Consult a doctor as to which vaccinations you will require, but they will most likely include Hep A, Hep B, and Typhoid. If you are staying in rural areas for a long time then a rabies shot would be a good idea.Tropical diseases such as Malaria, Yellow fever and Bilharzia are not present.
It is a very good idea to carry some sterile needles and dressing in your first aid kit — the hospitals throughout Lesotho are not of a very high standard.
If you do have any serious health problems while in Lesotho, get in contact with your country’s embassy either in Maseru, or in most cases, in Pretoria in South Africa, as there are very good hospitals across the border in SA for those who can afford to use them.
Lesotho is at a very high altitude, and the air is very thin especially in the Highlands, be warned that you may suffer from altitude sickness when you first arrive. Drink a lot of water and keep covered up, skin burns quickly in the thin mountain air. It gets very hot in the sun in the summer!
The water in Lesotho is not clean and should not be drunk untreated. Be warned about street vendors who sell fizzy drinks as these are usually in unclean reused glass bottles.
Vaccines and Medicines
Check the vaccines and medicines list and visit your doctor (ideally, 4-6 weeks) before your trip to get vaccines or medicines you may need.
History, Language and Culture
Originally, the Sotho-Tswana people lived in what is now Free State in neighbouring South Africa. They were a farming people, and when the Zulus started attacking villages and the Voortrekkers started encroaching on their land, they fled up into the Lesotho mountains. Here, continuous attacks from the Zulus forced local tribes to join together for protection, and by 1824, King Moeshoeshoe had established himself as king and Thaba Bosiu as his mountain fortress.
Moeshoeshoe allied himself with the British Cape Colony government in a bid to protect the Basotho from the Boers’ rapidly increasing presence in the area. Much fighting followed, forcing Moeshoeshoe to go straight to the imperial government of the British, and in 1868, Basotholand (as it was then called) became a protectorate of the British Empire. It was granted independence from the British Empire on October 4th, 1966.
The Kingdom of Lesotho was formed through the pursuit of peace, and this peaceful nature still exists in the Basotho. They are a friendly and welcoming people and do not have the aggressive history some of the peoples of neighbouring countries have.
Lesotho has two official languages – English and Sesotho
See section on useful phrases below
Leribe Craft Center
One of the oldest weaving establishments in Lesotho
Morija Arts & Cultural Festival
Celebrating the diverse cultural heritage of Lesotho
Must see in Lesotho
Why Visit Lesotho ?
Spectacular scenery. Adventure Tourism
Ha Kome Historical 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.
The Kome Crafts and Information Office that is about 500 metres up the road from the caves houses locally-made crafts including crafts from Lesotho Mountain Crafts in Teyateyaneng, 21 km from the centre. You will also find a tuck shop and a small café at the centre.
At the Kome Crafts and Information Centre you can have picnic and even strike up a barbecue/braai at one of its many stands. The helpful staff at the centre can help you organise pony treks around the Pulane area and even assist you with guided tours of the Kome Cave Village. Catering is available upon request. Camping is permitted but there aren’t any shower facilities.
A high clearance vehicle is recommended if you driving down to the centre and sensible footwear for the the trip to the cave dwellings.
Near the Ha Come cave dwellings
The nearest filling station to the caves is in Teyateyaneng.
Some accommodation options in and around Pulane include; Ka Pitseng Guest House, Blue Mountain Inn, Mmelesi Lodge, Aloes Guest House, the Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village, Pyramid Gardens and Khotsong Guest House.
Other places of historical significance near the Ha Kome cave dwellings are the Bokhopa pinnacle where cannibals waylaid their grass robes to trap the passersby and a large overhang where that inhabited in Malimong (Place of the cannibals).
Source Visit Lesotho Travel
Maletsunyane Falls, Semonkong
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.
Semonkong Lodge offers you the chance to explore the magnificent scenery and culture of Lesotho. The Lodge together with the local community provides ponies and guides for the adventure, day trips to the Maletsunyane Falls.
In summer, you can swim in the pond below while in winter the pond freezes over and an ice enclosure develops around the falls. Pony trekking is the way to see them.
Source Visit Lesotho Travel
Katse, is a disease free area, is one of Lesotho’s popular tourist destinations. It was named after a wealthy man called Katse who used to have a lot of livestock and provided agricultural produce to the local communities.
The area is now a home to the Highest Dam Wall in Africa, Katse Dam. The congenial Katse Village, developed in the early 1990s is located in this area and provides a spectacular view of the Katse reservoir as well as the country’s rugged mountain scenery.
At 2,000 metres above sea level, Katse Dam is described as “a striking piece of modern engineering”. The Dam is one of less than 30 double curvature concrete arch dams in the world; one of the world’s 10 largest concrete arch dams in terms of its volume; and the highest dam in Africa. The Dam has since its construction in 1991 been attracting thousands of people who come to see this engineering creation.
Subeng Dinosaur Footprints
Lesotho is rich in relics of its prehistoric past, especially of early dinosaurs and of the first primitive mammals to walk the earth. Fascinating for the non-specialist visitor are the dinosaur footprints preserved in sandstone.
One of our best examples is at Subeng Stream. The Subeng Stream is about 5 miles north of Hlotse, and within easy walking distance from the main Hlotse-Butha-Buthe road. The track way features the footprints of several different dinosaurs that existed from the period at the end of the Triassic era, some 180-200 million years ago. These were early ancestors of the creatures that feature in the film Jurassic Park.
Source Visit Lesotho Travel
Liphofung Nature Reserve
Liphofung Nature Reserve, “place of the eland” cave occupies an important place in Lesotho history. The area around ‘Moteng Valley is known for its high mountains and beautiful scenery.
Travellers can enjoy the scenery while quad biking, pony trekking to the rock art sites or bird watching. This is the smallest of the Lesotho Highlands Development Authority reserves at about 4 hectares. The cave is in fact a large overhang in the Clarens sandstones, which is a typical feature of the Lesotho lowlands region. This is particular site lies in a tributary stream valley of the Hololo River just off the main route from Butha Buthe to Oxbow and Mokhotlong. Access is by means of a newly constructed concrete road and is passable for all vehicles. A small visitor’s centre incorporating a display of Basotho culture and San rock art has been developed, along with ablution facilities and a small shop. The site is proving to be a popular destination with school groups and tourists en route to Oxbow.
Source Visit Lesotho Travel
Sehlabathebe National Park
Source Visit Lesotho Travel
Tse’hlanyane National Park
Tse’hlanyane National Park, is located deep in the front range of the Maluti mountains, with headquarters at the foot of the Holomo Pass.
The reserve owes its origin to the access road to the Hlotse tunnel adit for the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP). This protected area lies at the junction of the Tse’hlanyane and the Holomo rivers.
Over 5600 hectares of extremely rugged mountains terrain is protected within this park, which includes one of the very few indigenous woodlands in Lesotho. The reserve also encompasses a reasonable proportion of mountain ‘fynbos’ with a high degree of endemism.
The park is reached by a 32km-gravel access road that leaves the main A1 route 8 km south of Butha Buthe. The route passes through the village of Khabo’s and parallels the Hlotse River along a very picturesque valley until it reaches the park entrance.
Source Visit Lesotho Travel
Thaba Bosiu Mountain
Thaba Bosiu, The name Thaba Bosiu means the ‘Mountain at Night’. It was in July,1824 when Moshoeshoe and his people took occupation of the mountain which his brother Mohale had reconnoitred.
He named the mountain Thaba Bosiu-Mountain at Night because he and his people arrived there in the evening and the essential protective work took him until late at night. Many years later the news to intimidate his enemies was spread that at night time the mountain grew larger than usual. This is where the Basotho nation was built. The fortress has eight springs and seven passes, the main one being Khubelu. Thaba Bosiu was never conquered by his invaders.
The mountain is flat-topped and it is situated in the valley of the Phuthiatsana River. It is about fifteen miles east of the junction of this river with Mohokare or Caledon that divides Lesotho from the Free State. It rises about 350 ft. from the surrounding valley and its summit is surrounded by a belt of perpendicular cliffs some 40 ft. high on the average.
Nearby, there are San paintings and Ntlo Kholo (Big House) Cave and Cultural Village.
Source Visit Lesotho Travel
- Afriski — Ski and Mountain Resort for Skiing in Winter (June – September) and Mountain Adventure Sport in Summer (October – April)
- Bokong Nature Reserve — hiking paradise; the Lepaquoa waterfall freezes in winter into a solid column of ice!
- Sehlabathebe National Park — remote mountain reserve great for hiking with rare wildlife, impressive waterfalls, and ancient rock paintings and stone shelters.
- Ts’ehlanyane National Park — Sub-alpine National Park at the foot of the Holomo Pass. Home to one of the few remaining Che-Che (old wood) forests, with hiking trails and pristine rock pools and rivers.
- Roof of Africa route — Running between Oxbow & the S.African border, this narrow, winding road runs through some of the highest passes in Africa
- Thaba Bosiu — The mountain stronghold where King Moeshoeshoe the Great established the Kingdom of Lesotho
- Pony-Trekking especially at either Malealea,, or at the Basotho Pony-Trekking Centre — whether you’re a seasoned pro at horse riding or a complete novice, pony-trekking is an extremely enjoyable way to see the Lesotho countryside! These organized tours give you access to parts of the country which you wouldn’t see from your car. The exceptionally sure-footed Basotho Pony can take you through far-off villages and atop daunting mountains.
- Hiking in the Highlands. Contact the Department of Tourism , who will find you a guide, and then fly into a completely cut off village and hike your way out, staying in remote villages over night. You can also purchase 1:25,000 topographical maps for about 25LSL from the office of Lands, Surveys, and Physical Planning in downtown Maseru and do this yourself (recommended only for experienced hikers).
- Trekking and Climbing in the Maluti/ Drakensberg mountains
Road Travel in Lesotho
Travel Advisories and Warnings
Other Useful Links
Current News from Lesotho
LENA-Lesotho News Agency
Official Lesotho News.
Mail & Guardian
Leading newspaper from South Africa, covers all Africa with current information
News from Lesotho.
© Simon Ager Omniglot www.omniglot.com
Useful Sesotho phrases
A collection of useful phrases in Sesotho (Southern Sotho) a language spoken in Lesotho, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zambia.
Key to abbreviations: frm = formal, inf = informal, sg = singular (said to one person), pl = plural (said to more than one person).
|Welcome||Kena ka kgotso! (sg)|
Kenang ka kgotso! (pl)
|Hello (General greeting)||Lumela|
|How are you?||O kae? (Where are you?)|
O phela joang? (How are you living?)
|Reply to ‘How are you?’||Ke teng, wena o kae?|
(I’m here, where are you?)
Ke phela hantle, wena o phela jwang?
(I’m living fine, how are you living?)
|Long time no see|
|What’s your name?||Lebitso la hao ke mang?|
|My name is …||Lebitso laka ke …|
|Where are you from?||O tswa kae?|
|I’m from …||Ke tswa …|
|Pleased to meet you|
|Mmoro (sg) Mmorong (pl)|
|Fonane (sg) Fonaneng (pl)|
|Good night||Fonane (sg) Fonaneng (pl)|
|Sala hantle (to person staying)|
Tsamaya hantle (to person leaving)
|Good luck!||Ke u lakaletsa lehlohonolo|
|Cheers! Good Health!|
(Toasts used when drinking)
|Have a nice day|
|Bon appetit /|
Have a nice meal
|Bon voyage /|
Have a good journey
|O tsamaye hantle; Tsela tsweu (white road)|
|I don’t know||Ha ke tsebe|
|I don’t understand||Ha ke utlwisise|
|Please speak more slowly|
|Please say that again|
|Please write it down|
|Do you speak Sesotho?||O a bua Sesotho?|
Na o a bua Sesotho?
|Yes, a little|
(reply to ‘Do you speak …?’)
|Do you speak English?||O a bua Senyesemane?|
Na o a bua Senyesemane?
|How do you say … in Sesotho?|
|How much is this?||Ke bokae?|
|Thank you||Ke a leboha|
Ke a leboha haholo
|Reply to thank you||O amohetswe|
|Where’s the toilet?||Ntloana e kae?|
Batekamore e kae?
|This gentleman will pay for everything|
|This lady will pay for everything|
|Would you like to dance with me?|
|I love you||Ke a o rata|
|Get well soon|
|Leave me alone!||Ntohelle kele notsi!|
|Help!||Ke kopa thuso!|
|Call the police!|
|Christmas and New Year greetings||Keresemese e monate le mahlohonolo a selemo se setjha|
|Birthday greetings||Letsatsi le monate la tswalo|
|One language is never enough|
|My hovercraft is full of eels|
Why this phrase?
For up to date weather reports check the Lesotho Meteorological Services
Want even more information on Lesotho?
BEST OF ALL – For all Southern African Countries:
Africa South of the Sahara: Lesotho (by Karen Fung)