Lesotho Driving Guide
Lesotho is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit
Lesotho, which means “The Land of the People who Speak Sesotho,” is a small landlocked country in Southern Africa. Its lowest elevation is at the junction of the Makhaleng and Senqu rivers, which measures 1,400 meters, giving it its nickname. The country is full of mountains and rugged yet spectacular terrains.
Besides the landscapes and national parks, Lesotho is also rich in culture and history, having preserved many heritage sites. The Basotho people can speak both English and Sesotho, making the country a tourist-friendly destination. So if you want to unwind and let loose, make sure to visit Lesotho to experience the different adventures “The Kingdom of the Sky” has to offer.
How Can This Guide Help You?
It’s always intimidating to travel abroad, especially if you share little culture and similarities with the country you’re visiting. This guide will tell you all you need to know about road tripping abroad, specifically in Lesotho. So make sure to read about the requirements you’ll need, road rules, driving etiquettes, and even the best tourist attractions for a memorable trip in the country.
Located in Southern Africa, Lesotho is a small country that is completely enclosed by South Africa. It has the highest lowest point in the world and is abundant in rocky mountains and rugged terrains. Lesotho’s isolation from much of the world allows its people to preserve a lot of their traditions. Thus, every year, more tourists flock-in not only to experience the country’s stunning natural wonders but its diverse culture as well.
Lesotho is a small country located in Southern Africa. It is called “The Kingdom of the Sky” since its lowest elevation, measuring 1,400 meters, is the highest lowest point in the world. It is a nation full of mountains and valleys and is landlocked by the much bigger South Africa.
Tourists who plan on driving into Lesotho may find it a bit challenging as the country is full of rugged terrains and steep slopes. However, these very features draw in thrill-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts who also want to experience the country’s high altitudes and mountain villages.
The National and official languages of Lesotho are Sesotho and English. These were established as the country’s main languages during its independence in 1966. Sesotho, also called Sotho, is a native language of the Basotho tribe and is commonly known as a Bantu language. Roughly 85-90% of Basotho consider Sesotho as their first language.
On the other hand, English is mainly used in official business. Government officials use English, as well as educational institutions, specifically secondary school. English is taught early on since it is believed to be a necessity for jobs. So you don’t have to worry about a language barrier if you’ll visit Lesotho, as many people can speak English.
Lesotho is a small country with a total land area of 30,355 sq. km., making it roughly the same size as Maryland. This also makes the country a bit smaller than Belgium and slightly bigger than Albania and Macedonia. Do note that although these European countries may be considered large in their continent, they are relatively small compared to the vast nations in Africa.
Back in the 17th century, multiple Sotho societies settled in Basutoland and Free State areas. These Sotho tribes were then united against the Zulu invaders by King Moshoeshoe. By 1833, three French missionaries met with King Moshoeshoe to ask for permission to establish a Morija mission station. This visit will eventually spark a conflict between the indigenous residents and the European immigrants.
After multiple conflicts with Trekboers (European nomadic pastoralists) and eventually the British, Basutoland gained independence from Britain on October 4, 1966. The nation finally became known as Lesotho, with Jonathan Leabua becoming the country’s first prime minister.
Lesotho has a population of 2.1 million Basotho led by a parliamentary or a constitutional monarchy. Its government has three branches— the executive, judicial and legislative branches; and the constitution was adopted on April 2, 1993,
The King of Lesotho is the de facto head of state and is only there for ceremonial purposes. In contrast, the prime minister exercises all power and is the head of government and the multi-party system.
Lesotho garnered over one million tourist arrivals from 2018 alone, with 90% of the visitors coming from South Africa. The number of foreigners entering Lesotho increases every year, allowing tourism to benefit the economy by employing more locals.
Suppose you want to explore the great outdoors, sightsee stunning landscapes, or experience rich culture and heritage. Make sure to visit Lesotho as the country is the perfect place to visit if you want to get in touch with nature and history.
You’ll need specific requirements if you’ll be driving in Lesotho, and an International Driver's Permit is one of them. You’re highly required to bring an IDP, especially if you’re not from a Southern African Development Community (SADC) State. Here are some of the most important things you should know about an IDP if you want a stress-free drive in Lesotho.
Do You Need an International Driving Permit in Lesotho?
Aside from a native driving license, foreigners must also have an International Driver's Permit (or an international driver’s license) to go driving in Lesotho. Our website has all the necessary information you’d need about IDPs and their purpose. Make sure to check the FAQs page if you have questions about IDPs or the pricing page if you want to know the costs.
If your local license isn’t in English or doesn’t have Latin alphabet characters, you must obtain an IDP. But remember that an International Driver's Permit isn’t an official document, and you’d still need your foreign driver’s license to drive in Lesotho.
Note that an IDP issued by us has a validity of one to three years. And when choosing your IDP’s validity, you must consider your future travels. Suppose you have successive destinations scheduled in three years right after your trip to Lesotho. It’s best to get an IDP with a validity of three years, so you won’t have to apply for a new IDP each year and spend more money.
What Are the Requirements For an International Driving Permit in Lesotho?
One of the benefits of applying for an IDP from us is that the application process is entirely online. You don’t have to worry about going to a company in person and collecting all the documents you’d need for the application. IDA will provide an application form that you must duly fill-in. You will also upload a copy of your driver’s license and a passport-sized photograph.
Once you’ve submitted all the requirements and paid all the fees, you can now wait for your IDP to go driving in Lesotho. Zip code or postal codes must not be forgotten; make sure to put them in your address for fast and accurate mailing.
What if I Lose My International Driving Permit?
As mentioned, one of the benefits of ordering an IDP from us is getting to apply anytime and anywhere as we offer shipping worldwide. If you lose your International Driving Permit in Lesotho, you won't have to apply all over again since IDA will ship a replacement free of charge.
Contact customer service, provide your name and IDP number, then pay for the shipping costs. Once you have your IDP, you can finally continue driving in Lesotho. Remember, zip codes or postal codes must also be specified on your address for your new IDP’s quicker shipment.
Renting a Car in Lesotho
Lesotho is one of the countries that you just have to explore by car. Not only is the public transport subpar, but getting to certain destinations would be difficult unless you have a private vehicle. If you have plans to go driving in Lesotho, updates on available rental cars, average prices, and other requirements are just a few of the things you should be aware of. So continue reading to know other crucial details if you’ll be driving in Lesotho.
Car Rental Companies
Finding a reputable car rental agency is essential in having a smooth trip in Lesotho, especially since you’ll be driving during your stay. You can find many rental companies in the country’s capital, Maseru, and some of these include:
- First Rent
- keddy by Europcar
These car rental agencies are popular and found all over the globe. So if you want to book a vehicle from any of them, simply search their website and follow the booking process. You can also rent a car after you arrive by dropping by the company's office or going up to its stall at the airport.
Rental car companies all have different policies, so you’ll have to discuss or inform them if you want to bring your rental car outside of Lesotho. Many rental agencies in South Africa allow their customers to bring their cars across borders, so driving into Lesotho via a rental car is quite common. However, rental companies in Lesotho tend to have limited benefits when it comes to crossing borders with their cars. So make sure to settle this with your rental agency to avoid complications in the future.
Before you can rent a car or pick up the vehicle you booked, certain requirements must first be presented. The documents you’ll need to rent a car are the following:
- Driver’s license
- Credit or debit card
- International Driver's Permit
Note that an IDP must accompany your native license if it is not in English or does not have any Latin alphabet characters. A translated license that has been approved by the embassy is also accepted.
The most popular rental cars in Lesotho are economy cars. However, most of the attractions in the country are found beyond the cities. So if you have plans of driving through Lesotho’s mountainous and rocky areas, you’d want the best experience. Since using an economy or any other car isn’t ideal for off-roading activities, it’s best to rent a 4x4 vehicle instead.
Remember that when choosing a vehicle, there are some things you must always consider. These include the number of passengers, the number of luggage you’re carrying, and how comfortable the car is.
So before you get ahead of yourself and start thinking about driving in Lesotho, check the websites of car rental companies you’re interested in to know the vehicles available and canvas for their prices first. In the end, just make sure that your vehicle would serve its purpose and fit your budget so you won’t have issues during your trip.
Car Rental Cost
The average costs for rental cars generally fluctuate, especially during peak season. Currently, the average price of a rental car in Lesotho is $34 per day. Note that purchasing additional car accessories and booking your rental car at the airport can increase your expenses. Finally, before you go driving in Lesotho, know that different pick-up and drop-off locations will also result in additional charges.
The legal driving age in Lesotho is 18 years old. However, rental companies will require most of their customers to be within 21 to 25 years. Most agencies would also want their drivers to have at least one to two years of driving experience. And if you are below 25 years, you may get to rent a car, but you’ll have to pay a Young Driver Fee. The surcharge price differs according to your location and the rental company, and it costs between $25-35.
Having a car can help in saving money. But if you don’t have a vehicle beforehand and renting a car is the last resort, remember that paying a Young Driver Fee will be worth it. Not only can you travel at your convenience, but you also have a vehicle all to yourself.
Car Insurance Cost
Many overzealous travelers tend to dive straight into their road trips and forget about car insurance. Car insurance is incredibly important if you’ll drive in countries like Lesotho, where poor road conditions persist and accident rates are high.
You can usually purchase rental car insurance from your rental company, and their costs may vary depending on what the insurance covers. So make sure to discuss the inclusions and pricing with your rental car agency before you purchase one.
Car Insurance Policy
Different rental car companies may have different insurance policies, so it’s important to read and understand what insurance you’ll be buying. Not only can you avoid spending extra in case your domestic insurance has already covered it, but you’ll also be aware of the coverage and inclusions of the car insurance you’re about to buy.
Depending on the company, some of the insurance policies include:
- Collision Damage Waiver or Loss Damage Waiver
- Super Collision Damage Waiver
- Roadside Assistance Cover
- Personal Accident Insurance
Road Rules in Lesotho
Lesotho is full of challenging main roads to drive on; this is why foreign drivers must always know the road rules before driving in the country. Here are some of Lesotho’s top road rules that you must always follow to avoid committing violations and gaining possible fines.
Every country has its own set of driving regulations, and Lesotho is no different. Every traveler wants a trip with minimal to zero bumps, and you can usually achieve this if you’re familiar with the basic road rules of the place. So before you get behind the wheel in Lesotho, make sure to know a few of the most important traffic regulations for a smooth trip.
As a former British colony, Lesotho has many similar rules to the UK, and one of these is the accepted Blood Alcohol Concentration. The BAC in Lesotho is 80 mg/dL or 0.08%. If you are caught driving under the influence, especially by border police, you will be penalized accordingly.
Lesotho doesn’t allow the usage of any mobile or Bluetooth device. Due to the high cases of road accidents, it’s essential to have your eyes on the road. Thus, it’s better to use a hands-free device. Nonetheless, to ensure your safety and the lesser probability of car collisions, make sure to have your sole focus on the road instead.
Before you get behind the wheel, it’s important to practice certain protocols to ensure a smooth and safe trip. According to the National Road Traffic Act of Lesotho, drivers must always follow or observe these rules:
- Carry a valid driver license and an International Driver's Permit
- Aside from these documents, make sure to bring your passport, car registration, and insurance as well
- Drive a road-worthy vehicle
- Drivers must check their cars and ensure that it is fully functioning and in good condition; the vehicle must also have emergency items such as reflective triangles, fire extinguishers, a tool kit, and a spare tire
Make sure also to inform your family, friends, and accommodation of your road tripping plans. Making a travel itinerary is also important so that you won’t have unnecessary stops in between your drive.
Turning Signals at a Traffic Circle
Always signal when you are going to turn in a traffic circle in Lesotho. If you’ll be turning left in large traffic circles, use your left indicator and make sure to keep in the left-hand lane. If you are performing a U-turn or turning right, make sure to stay in the right-hand lane. You should only signal left and change into the outside or left-hand lane once you have successfully passed other exits.
In mini or small traffic circles, signaling is similar to those done at four-way stops, so you must always signal before entering the circle. Thus, you must first indicate what direction you’ll be traveling in before you enter the circle.
It’s as important to know the rules you should observe after driving as it is to know the rules before and while you’re driving. In Lesotho, drivers aren’t allowed to stop or park in these locations:
- Areas with signs indicating that stopping and parking are illegal; and areas that can block traffic signs
- Pedestrian, cyclist, and level crossings and pavements
- On the crest of hills; and bends with little visibility
- Near excavations or obstructions on public roads
- Areas where parking may disrupt the traffic
- Areas that can block vehicles and entries to properties
- Within five meters of a pedestrian crossing marked with a road sign; and within five meters of any intersection
- Beside a longitudinal marking wherein the carriageway between the marking and the vehicles measures less than three meters
Every country has its own set of general standards in driving, which can be difficult to grasp by foreigners. In Lesotho, you have the option to drive a manual or an automatic car. But for tourists who come from countries that drive on the right, know that it’s best to rent an automatic car. This is because driving manual cars and at the same time navigating on the left side of the road may get a bit overwhelming.
Speed limits are very important since they can prevent collisions by directing the vehicles’ speed; unfortunately, not all Basotho drivers follow them. Traffic enforcers don’t always reprimand and penalize the violators. However, Lesotho’s Road Traffic Act states that people who don’t follow these road rules will be fined.
Even if Lesotho has lax driving laws, you must still follow the implemented speed limits, especially when driving through Lesotho’s towns and cities. The speed limits you must remember are as follows:
- Urban areas - 50 KpH
- Rural areas - 80 KpH
- Highways - 100 KpH
Wearing seatbelts has been proven to reduce casualties and major injuries from vehicular accidents. Drivers in the country are quite reckless as they have little regard for road rules and other motorists. This is why it’s important to wear your seatbelts. Lastly, you may be fined if you are caught not wearing one. So to ensure your safety and to avoid paying fines, make sure to always wear your seatbelts.
Driving abroad can be intimidating, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the driving laws. So make sure you don’t disrupt the traffic by violating road rules. Here are some things you must always remember while driving in Lesotho:
- When you are approaching a large traffic circle (around 16 m in diameter). Do note that vehicles coming from the right have the right of way— you may only ease your way into the traffic once there is a gap that permits you to enter. Always remember to signal if you are going to turn
- For small or mini traffic circles (seven to ten meters in diameter), the first vehicle to arrive always has the right of way
- If you overtake a vehicle, be sure to perform the maneuver on the right
- On a two-way carriageway with three lanes, drivers aren’t allowed to take the lane at the edge to their right; if there are four lanes, drivers cannot take the lanes found entirely on the half of the carriageway to their right
- If a road has two carriageways, drivers cannot take the carriageway at their right
- Always follow the right of way in Lesotho
Lastly, note that you must always have good road sense; it’s important to drive defensively as local drivers can be very irresponsible. If you are settling in the country, make sure to take a defensive driving course in Lesotho— enrolling in these classes is a good way to refresh your defensive driving skills. This enforces your safety, as well as your capability as a driver in Lesotho.
Traffic Road Signs
Road signs are very important, as they guide and direct drivers on what to do on the road. Lesotho shares similar traffic signs with 15 other states that are part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC). These countries signed a treaty to unify their road signs, which are as follows:
A. Regulatory Signs - indicate or reinforce particular traffic laws and regulations
a. Control Signs
- Ex. Stop, Give Way/Yield, No Entry
b. Command Signs
- Minimum Speed Limit, Keep Left/Keep Right, Taxis Only
c. Prohibition Signs
- Speed Limit of—, Hitchhiking prohibited, U-turn prohibited
d. Reservation Signs
- Reserved for buses, Reserved lane for buses, Reserved for taxis
e. Comprehensive Signs
- Dual-carriageway freeway begins/Single-carriageway freeway begins
f. De-restriction Signs
- End of toll route, Switch headlamps off, end of living street
g. Exclusive Secondary Signs
B. Warning Signs - informs motorists of potential hazards
a. Advanced Warning Signs
- T-junction ahead, Crossroad ahead, Fork ahead
b. Hazard Marking Signs
Gore plate, Boom/Barricade
C. Guidance Signs - provide information to specific destinations
- Location Signs
- Route Markers
- Direction Signs
- Freeway Signs
- Tourism Direction Signs
- Local Direction Signs
- Guidance Sign Symbols
- Diagrammatic Signs
D. Temporary Signs - provide information on temporary road conditions
- Temporary Regulatory Signs
- Temporary Guidance Signs
E. Combination Signs - a combination of more than one traffic sign
- Selective Restriction Signs
- Comprehensive Signs
- Supplementary Plates
- Temporary Combinations
Right of Way
Knowing when to yield or give way is important to avoid miscommunications and confrontations on the road. The National Road Traffic Act of Lesotho states that:
- You must give way to vehicles going uphill if you are traveling down a mountain or a steep road and the oncoming traffic is difficult
- At intersections, you must yield to drivers approaching from your right side unless there’s instruction to do otherwise
- You must always give way to vehicles on a public road, given that you are coming from an earth track
- You must yield to the vehicles traveling if you are emerging on to the road from the property bordering it
- You must always give way to the pedestrians crossing on their designated lanes
- You must yield to vehicles traveling on the highway if an acceleration lane does not continue an approach road
Legal Driving Age
Before you apply for a driver’s license or start enrolling at a driving school in Lesotho, do know that the legal age to drive a car in the country is 18 years old. But if you want to drive a motorcycle or a scooter, you must be at least 16 years old. However, before you can obtain a driver’s license, you should first have a learner’s driving license or permit.
If you have successfully been issued a learner’s license, this means that you have understood the rules and concepts of driving in Lesotho. You will be unable to complete your driver’s license application if you cannot get a learner’s permit. Remember that drivers with learner’s licenses are only allowed to drive if they have passengers who own a professional driver’s license.
Given that an applicant with a learner’s permit violates the rules or has their license revoked, they will be unable to apply for a new learner’s driving license for 12 months. Thus, the driver’s license application will be delayed.
Laws on Overtaking
Passing, also called overtaking, is a maneuver wherein a driver approaches a vehicle from behind and catches up or passes them through the other lane. You are allowed to overtake in Lesotho only when:
- There is no vehicle from behind that is attempting to pass or overtake you
- The driver ahead of you has not signaled their intention to overtake the vehicle ahead of them
- The lane you will take is clear of any vehicles
- You are sure that you’re not endangering any vehicles around you
On the other hand, overtaking is prohibited when:
- You are approaching a crest or a hill
- You are on a bend or when visibility is poor
- A pedestrian lane is nearby
You will drive on the left side of the road in Lesotho. Just like in the UK, the country has implemented left-hand traffic. This also means that the cars are a right-hand drive. If you come from a country that doesn’t drive on the left side, then driving in Lesotho might take some getting used to. Just make sure always to have the presence of mind whenever you’re driving to avoid mishaps on the road.
Here are some tips if you need to adjust in driving on the left side of the road:
- Get to know your vehicle— know the controls and learn them
- Get used to opening the door on the right side
- Learn the turn signals on your car
- Practice driving before setting out— that is, with the engines still turned off
- Practice shifting gears
- Be familiar with the driving laws
Driving Etiquette in Lesotho
Sometimes, certain scenarios like car troubles or run-ins with police are inevitable. That’s why you must always seek and read advice that teaches you how to deal with such problems. Not only will you be equipped with the knowledge on how to face them, but chances are, you won’t have your trip soiled by them as well.
Car troubles can be quite dangerous if you’re traveling in a country with high crime rates. It gets risky at night, particularly for women. Here are some things you must do if your car breaks down in Lesotho:
- Pull over on the far left of the road with your wheels turned to the left as well
- Flash your emergency signals, such as your hazard lights, and set up your reflective triangles to warn oncoming motorists
- Make sure to exit the vehicle on the left side (the passenger side) to not interfere with the traffic
- Wear bright or reflective clothing if you have any
- Don’t try to fix your vehicle. Contact roadside assistance right away (if you purchased car insurance, roadside assistance might be one of its coverages)
- Call anyone you know or your rental company, and inform them of your current situation
Of course, it’s also better to prepare yourself for the worst. Having your car breakdown is the last thing on your mind, but before you get on the road, make sure to have these items just in case:
- Important phone numbers
- Telephone numbers of your accommodation, family and friends, rental company, and roadside assistance
- A fully charged phone, a charger, or a power bank
- A phone card and spare change in case you need to call anyone and a public phone is found nearby
- Comfortable shoes if you need to walk long distances to call for help or look for assistance
- Emergency kit
- Fire extinguisher, at least two reflective triangles and jacket, toolbox
Lastly, here are some emergency hotlines that you might need in Lesotho:
- Police - 123/124
- Ambulance - 121
- Fire - 122
Lesotho police rarely ever stop tourists. Many foreigners share their experiences and say that they usually never see or encounter police in the country. However, if you have a run-in with local police, just make sure to stay calm and have your documents ready.
Before you present your documents, ensure that the officer approaching is an authorized and official police officer. The Lesotho Mounted Police uniforms are typically dark blue with “police” sewn on their front breast pockets. Also, make sure that the police stopping you is carrying a badge.
Border police are usually strict with documents, particularly car documents. So if you’re driving into Lesotho from South Africa, be sure to have your passport, driver’s license, IDP, car registration, and insurance on-hand. If you think the police that stopped you will request bribes, turn them down, and make sure not to pay them anything as this enables their actions.
Suppose you’re driving from Johannesburg to Lesotho. It would be relatively easy since you’ll just be following the main N1 highway, and the chances of you getting lost are slim. But traversing the minor and lesser-known roads in Lesotho would be a bit of a problem. So unless you own accurate GPS devices, you’ll need to ask help from locals.
Remember that most of the Basotho can speak in English, so you don’t have to worry about a language barrier. But if you think you’re surrounded by people who only speak little English, then it might be necessary to use some (Southern) Sesotho.
Basotho are warm and hospitable people, but aside from a friendly wave or a smile, it’s important to greet them first before asking for help. Here are some words and phrases in Sesotho that can be helpful during your trip to Lesotho:
- Dumela - Hello
- O kae - How are you?
- Ke a kopa - Please
- Ke a leboha - Thank you
- E - Yes
- tjhe - No
- Ntshwarele - Excuse me
- Tshwarelo - Sorry
- Ema - Wait
- Ke kopa hore o ikise… - Please take me to …
- Nka fumana … hokae? - Where can I find …?
- Aterese ke mang? - What is the address?
- E hole hakae …? - How far is …?
- Ntho ena ke bokae? - How much is this?
The most common checkpoints you’d encounter are those at border crossings. So if you’re driving into Lesotho from South Africa, it’s impossible to miss these checkpoints. Make sure to have your passport, driver’s license, IDP, car registration, and insurance.
South African police aren’t that strict when it comes to car registration. However, border police in Lesotho is the opposite. So if you plan on driving to Lesotho, make sure that your car’s registration hasn’t expired and that you’re also carrying your car insurance.
A common issue among the police is unauthorized checkpoints. These are usually erected to extort bribes, especially from foreigners who are ignorant of the area. If you encounter these types of checkpoints, firmly stand your ground and don’t give them any money, so their behavior won’t be condoned.
Vehicular collisions are very common and have fatal casualties in Lesotho. So before you set off and start road tripping, make sure to read some tips on how to deal with car accidents if you ever find yourself in one.
In Case of Accidents
Getting into a car accident is a scary experience, especially if you’re abroad. You’re not familiar with foreign driving laws, and immediate protocols may differ from those in your home country. Additionally, depending on what country you’re in, costs incurred might be expensive, especially if you don’t have insurance. The National Road Traffic Act in Lesotho states that drivers have certain duties in case of accidents and must:
- Stop the vehicle immediately and report the accident to the police or any attending (traffic) officer
- If the driver sustains any injuries and was unable to report the accident, they must report right away once they are capable of doing so
- Know the extent of the injuries sustained by everyone involved
- If anyone is injured, the driver must extend help
- Give their name, address, and license number if required
- Drivers must also exchange details with the parties involved
- Leave the site as it is and not remove any vehicle until authorized by a traffic officer
- The vehicles can be removed only if they cause a disturbance to the traffic
Driving Conditions in Lesotho
Before you start driving in Lesotho, make sure to read any news about its current road conditions or statistics about its vehicular accidents. All this crucial data will help prepare you for its roads; you’ll also know what to expect of the drivers and their driving culture. This guide tells you all the latest updates about Lesotho’s driving conditions, so if you plan to drive in the country, make sure to read this thoroughly.
Car collisions are unfortunately common in Lesotho, and according to the 2018 data published by WHO, the deaths caused by traffic accidents reached 2.09% of the total deaths in Lesotho. News from the OSAC 2020 Crime and Safety Report also states that driving in Lesotho has one of the highest risks to personal safety and security.
A mixture of human and environmental factors contribute to the challenging and dangerous road experience in the country. These include poor road conditions, wandering livestock, unskilled drivers, and natural disasters, with overspeeding, wrong overtaking, and even drunk driving being the major causes of car collisions.
However, even if driving in the country can be quite risky, its beauty persists. And it’ll be a total waste to pass up the opportunity to see the wonders of the country. If you’re not confident in driving, you can always hire a driver, especially if you want to explore the more challenging roads and go driving in the Sani Pass in Lesotho.
Compact cars and pickup trucks are some of the most popular private vehicles in Lesotho. Other vehicles you’d encounter are taxis and buses. Taxis are more common in the capital, Maseru, whereas buses operated by Lesotho Freight and Bus Service can be used to travel within towns and cities. Do note that public transport in Lesotho is incredibly uncomfortable, so renting a vehicle during your stay in the country is the best option for you.
The Lesotho government established the Road Fund to set up toll roads to fund other roads and highways. Most toll roads in Lesotho are on the main highways, and they offer safer and faster roads to drive on. So if you have plans of driving in Lesotho, the updated toll fees adjusted by the Lesotho Road Fund must be noted. The new toll fees are as follows:
- Class A - M45
- Class B - M85
- Class C - M125
- Class 4 - M295
The roads in Lesotho span roughly 8,000 kilometers, with the majority remaining unpaved. The country’s major roads are generally in good condition and have blacktopped, while secondary roads are either gravel or dirt roads. On the other hand, the road conditions get poorer in residential areas since they’re typically ridden with potholes and collapsing shoulders.
It also gets particularly dangerous during the wet season as plants and other vegetation grow on the roads’ edges, reducing visibility and increasing the risk of accidents for drivers. Road hazards like rubble from landslides and the lack of traffic signs also make driving in Lesotho more challenging.
Basotho are known to be quite reckless drivers. Many locals get behind the wheel without proper training and don’t follow road rules. Driving under the influence and overspeeding is quite common, resulting in the country’s high accident rate.
Driving gets even riskier and challenging since livestock usually wanders on the roads. Additionally, pedestrians tend to cross the road carelessly, and streets are left unlit after nightfall. This all seems like a recipe for disaster, but remember, renting and driving a car is the best way to get around the country.
If you’re not confident in driving in the country and don’t want to hire a chauffeur, you can always opt to take a defensive driving course to ensure your safety in Lesotho. Remember that renting a car is the ideal way to explore the nation. So enrolling in this course will boost your knowledge and skills on defensive driving and your safety in Lesotho.
Driving in every country is a unique experience, and although there might be rules that are similar in some countries, they might be implemented or practiced due to different reasons. Driving in Lesotho is different from driving in other countries; that’s why you must know some unique driving rules to ensure your safety and security before you start your journey.
Are They Using KpH or MpH?
Like the majority of countries in the world, Lesotho uses KpH as the unit of speed. Most vehicles and speed limit signs would display KpH, so this might take some getting used to for people from countries that use MpH.
Is It Safe to Drive at Night?
One of the prevalent road problems in Lesotho is the lack of streetlights. Roaming livestock, pedestrians, and carjackers make driving after dark dangerous and difficult. So as much as possible, refrain from driving at night or experiencing the nightlife in Lesotho.
Keep Your Car Doors and Windows Locked
Crime rates in Lesotho are quite high, especially since its economy is unstable and many people are left without jobs. This results in plenty of locals resorting to petty crimes, including carjacking.
Individuals are advised to lock their car doors and windows while driving since thieves and robbers might try to enter, especially if the vehicle is unmoving in the middle of heavy traffic. Also, find a safe parking space and make sure not to leave important belongings inside your vehicle just to be safe.
Things To Do in Lesotho
Lesotho is a quaint little country full of beautiful mountains and rugged terrains. A lot of its tradition and heritage is preserved, making it a perfect place to visit if you want to be immersed in its culture. If you want to relocate to Lesotho, note that there are some things you have to process before you can successfully reside in the country, so make sure to continue reading to know what they are.
Drive as a Tourist
Driving is the best way to get around the country, especially if you’re driving to Lesotho from Johannesburg or other parts of South Africa. Don’t forget your passport, driver’s license, International Driver's Permit, and car documents to ensure a smooth trip.
Suppose your license isn’t in English or doesn’t have Latin alphabet characters. Don’t forget to bring an IDP, as it would make your trip easier by allowing rental car companies and border police to understand and check your license quickly.
Work as a Driver
Before you can work in Lesotho, you’ll first need to have a work visa and permit. Typically, your employer will be the one to process the permit, so finding a company or an employer before you arrive in the country is a bonus. Most of the workforce is based on mining, agriculture and farming, and manufacturing. However, do note that there are some driving jobs available in Lesotho, so you can make some money out of driving if you want to.
Some of the driving job opportunities include vacancies for delivery and truck drivers. But since trailer truck driving is different from a typical driving job, you’d have to apply for code 14 lessons at driving schools in Lesotho. Note that as of 2020, there have been driving jobs available in Lesotho; just make sure to apply for the positions right away since you’ll have a lot of competition.
Remember that there are different kinds of licenses for particular vehicles. And you can enroll in driving schools in Maseru, Lesotho, to take up courses on how to operate them. You can also start your own driving business if you think there are scarce driving vacancies in Lesotho. Just make sure that you have the appropriate permits and certificates to set up your business properly.
Work as a Travel Guide
Most countries in South Africa, particularly Lesotho, usually don’t employ foreigners as a tourist guide. Additionally, being a travel guide also requires certifications and experience. So if you’re unable to work as one, do know that you can try applying for other job vacancies instead.
Apply for Residency
Suppose you decide to relocate to Lesotho. Whether it be for work, study, or other purposes, you will be required to apply for residency. Some documents you’ll need for the application of your residence permit are as follows:
- Duly filled-in application form
- Copy of National ID documents
- Medical certificate
- Inclusive of microbiology results; eye, ear, and teeth test; and x-ray
- Other requirements depending on your type of residence permit
- The documents differ for employees, investors, missionaries, spouses, and foreign students
- Proof of payment or receipt of the application fee
The immigration officer will first register the applicant before the residence permit is issued. And the passport will also be stamped indicating the applicant’s residence in Lesotho. A residence permit can be an indefinite permit or a two-year permit. Temporary residence permits that last for 90 days are also issued.
Other Things to Do
Aside from driving jobs and residence permits, there are other important things you should know if you’ll be living and driving in Lesotho. These include exemption permits, driver’s licenses, and work opportunities in the country. Although the nation isn’t that developed, falling in love with the simple way of life and stunning scenery isn’t impossible. So you must always equip yourself with significant knowledge before relocating to Lesotho.
Can I Apply for a Basotho Driver’s license?
If you are staying for more than six months or applying for driving jobs in Lesotho, you’ll first need a local driver’s license. But before you can get your license, you must first obtain a learner’s license and pass driving tests. Note that there are good driving schools in Maseru, Lesotho, that offer driving courses you must first take prior to taking the exams. Lastly, the documents you’ll need for the application of your driver’s license are the following:
- Duly filled-in application form
- Medical certificate
- Two passport-sized photos
Remember that applying for certain licenses have different fees. Driving schools will also have different charges according to the courses you’ll take. For example, there will be a difference in costs for taking courses on code 2 (light motor vehicles) and code 14 in driving schools in Lesotho.
Also, don’t forget that before you can apply for a driver’s license, you must first be 18 years old. Applicants will have to visit the office of Public Works and Transport to apply for their driver’s license. They can also apply through a driving school in Lesotho. If you plan on doing so, note that they’ll charge you a service fee on top of the application fee.
Is It Easy to Find a Job in Lesotho?
Do know that it’s quite difficult to get a job in Lesotho, especially if your purpose for relocating is purely work-related. The country’s unemployment rate is quite high at 23%; it’s also more common to find volunteering opportunities through non-governmental organizations, and some of these opportunities include healthcare or environmental projects. However, you might find a few driving vacancies in Lesotho that are also under NGOs.
Since paid opportunities are difficult to find in Lesotho, expect a bit of difficulty when searching for jobs. And although there were some openings for driving jobs in Lesotho back in 2020, competition is still high, that the slots would be filled quickly. Many Basotho moved to South Africa in hopes of finding a stable job. However, this has led to their extended— and eventually illegal stay, in the country.
Recently, the government took initiative to regularize the stay of locals in South Africa by creating exemption permits. So remember that by visiting and even driving in Lesotho, not only are tourists able to explore and have fun in the country, but they’re also able to help boost the economy through the tourism industry.
Top Destinations in Lesotho
If you’re staying in South Africa, one of the best decisions you could make is driving to Lesotho. And if you’re not, don’t hesitate to fly to this tiny country. Lesotho boasts many wonders— from national parks to cultural villages; it is definitely one of the world’s best countries to have a road trip in. So before you book that ticket or start that car, here are some of the top tourist attractions you can visit in the country.
Ha Kome Cave Village
The Ha Kome Cave Village in the Pulane area in Berea District is one of the most interesting sites to visit in Lesotho. Five houses make up the entire village that was carved from the faces of the surrounding mountains.
The settlement was used as a hideout during the Lifaqane Wars and cannibalism in the late 18th century. To this day, the caves are still home to the descendants of their first settlers from 200 years ago and are constantly visited by curious tourists.
- From Moshoeshoe I International Airport, head north, then turn left.
- Turn right onto Main South 1 Rd/A2.
- Take a left turn and then turn right.
- Make a slight left, then turn left.
- Keep left, then turn left.
- Turn right.
- Make a slight right, then turn right.
- Turn right twice.
- Make a sharp right. This entire trip would take around one hour and fifteen minutes.
Things to Do
One unique cultural site you can visit in Lesotho is the Ha Kome Cave Village. Although the cave houses are the main attraction, there are other things you can do on-site if you want to relax or go for a quick adventure. So make sure to check out this list if you want to do other activities by the village.
1. Tour Around the Kome Cave Village
You can take a tour around the cave houses with the help of a guide, or learn more about the village by interacting with the local villagers. The locals are warm and friendly and will answer all your questions about their culture and history. So if you want an authentic experience with the townsfolk, don’t hesitate to knock on their doors and approach them.
2. Go Camping
Guests can go camping at the camping facility next to the village’s reception building. If you want to take a break from the city and enjoy stunning mountain sceneries, make sure to go camping by the village. Not only are you getting in touch with nature, but you get to see the rural life by the mountains as well.
3. Have a Picnic
If you get hungry during your visit, you can take a break by having a picnic by the Kome Crafts and Information Center. Guests who’ve brought food and supplies are also permitted to set up a barbecue or braai if they want to cook their meal.
4. Visit the Café and Tuck Shop
If you want to grab a bite to eat or buy some snacks, you can find a small café and a tuck shop at the Kome Crafts and Information Center. Note that the drive up to the village can get pretty rough, so you’d probably end up buying some food and drinks if you don’t have any.
5. Go Pony Trekking
The Ha Kome village is situated in the scenic Pulane area, and one of the activities you can do is pony trekking. Go up to one of the staff at the Kome Crafts and Information Center and arrange a pony trek to explore the stunning landscape.
There are much fun yet challenging locations to go driving at in Lesotho, and the Sani Pass trumps it all. Lying in between South Africa and Lesotho, this trail is considerably short but incredibly challenging, and most visitors that attempt to drive on it come from the South African side.
The Sani Pass is the only road one can take to cross the summit of the Drakensberg Mountain. It has attracted tourists from all over the world, and at the same time vehicular accidents. There have been occurrences wherein cars slide off the trails, particularly during winter, so if you’re not confident in driving the Sani Pass in Lesotho, make sure to hire a seasoned driver to operate your vehicle.
- From Mokhotlong, head southeast on the A14 route via the Black Mountain Pass (Kotisephola Pass).
- Drive for around 60 km to reach the western end and summit point of Sani Pass.
Things to Do
Sani Pass is one of the most challenging paths you can take. The drive isn’t for the faint of heart as accidents can be quite common, particularly during winter. However, this terrain attracts many tourists who want to experience the craziness of off-roading in Lesotho. Here are a few things you can do while you’re enjoying the rough roads of the Sani Pass.
1. Drive the Rugged Terrains
The most popular and challenging activity in the Sani Pass is to drive and get through it. Its rugged terrains make it possible for only 4x4s to traverse the roads, and any other types of vehicles used will be prohibited from crossing Sani Pass. So if you’re not experienced in off-road driving, you might have to leave this to the more experienced drivers. Just be sure to buckle up and enjoy the rough ride.
2. Hike Up the Trails
If you think that driving a 4x4 isn’t for you, then you have the option to hike up Sani Pass. This is much easier for travelers as it isn't a difficult trail to hike at all. It would take tourists around two to three hours to get to the top and two hours to get down.
3. Go Birdwatching
Since mountains and vibrant fauna surround you at the Sani Pass, expect to find many birds in the area. You might spot various species like the Drakensberg Rockjumper, Sentinel Rockthrush, Bush Blackcap, and the Mountain Pipit. Don’t forget a pair of binoculars so you can see the birds up close without having to disturb them.
4. Take in the View
Once you’ve reached the top of Sani Pass, don’t forget to take in the spectacular view. If you want a keepsake, make sure to have your phones or cameras ready to take a picture of the gorgeous scenery around you.
5. Visit the Highest Pub in Africa
The Sani Mountain Lodge is found on the top of the pass and is considered the “Highest Pub in Africa.” Guests who’ve had a challenging drive to the top can take a rest as it offers accommodation, while those who are hungry can eat some meals served at the lodge’s restaurant.
Sehlabathebe National Park
One of the most beautiful national parks in Lesotho is Sehlabathebe National Park. Its name means “Shield of the Plateau,” and it’s considered the oldest reserve in the country. The park is practically almost inaccessible, yet it provides a certain peacefulness and solitude that every traveler needs. Set on the border with South Africa, Sehlabathebe National Park offers many activities that visitors can enjoy, so don’t hesitate and be sure to drop by the reserve.
- From Maseru, head southeast on A5 via Semonkong to Qacha’s Nek.
- Head northeast to a fair unsurfaced road that runs close to the South African border as it approaches the national park gate.
Things to Do
Since Africa is abundant in national parks, it’s not a surprise that Lesotho has some too. Here is a list of various activities you can do while enjoying the serenity of Sehlabathebe National Park.
1. Check Out the Ancient Stone Dwellings and Rock Paintings
Suppose you want to see something more historical and cultural in the park. You can visit the caves and rock-shelters that are home to the largest and most concentrated rock paintings in the region. These paintings are the only remnants of the San people, as they represent the spiritual life of the tribe who resided in the area for more than 4,000 years.
2. Spend a Night on the Campsite
Go camping to experience a night out in the wilderness of Sehlabathebe National Park. If you want to escape the bustling city, spend a night (or a few days) in the park’s camping site to immerse yourself in the stunning nature surrounding you. The park has good camping facilities and a ranger station, so you don’t have to worry about your safety in the area.
3. Watch Out for Rare Birds
Sehlabathebe National Park isn’t one of the top birding destinations in Africa. However, birdwatchers and other travelers can still enjoy watching birds of different species fly by the area. The park’s rugged features offer decent artificial habitats to birds like the Cape vulture or the bearded vulture. So make sure to bring some binoculars or even a camera to see birds flying around clearly.
4. Go Fishing on Tsoelike River
Since Sehlabathebe National Park offers tranquility to its visitors, one equally peaceful activity you could do on its grounds is fishing, which is typically for the calm and the patient. Visitors who want to eat or go camping in the park can go trout-fishing at the nearby dams or the Tsoelike River, just like Lesotho’s second Prime Minister, Leabua Jonathan, who began the activity in the area.
5. Explore the Park and Hike its Trails
Sehlabathebe Park is full of majestic rock formations and rugged terrains that are perfect for hiking. Visitors can also take a stroll around the area while enjoying the rare wildlife they might come across or the wildflowers that could be in bloom. If you’re searching for activities that aren’t too dull, yet at the same time aren’t too intense, then strolling around or hiking in the park would be perfect for you.
The town of Semonkong gets its name from the imposing Maletsunyane Falls. Its cascading waters fall to the gorge that’s over 190 meters below. This drop causes a mist to form and leads to the birth of the town’s name— “The Place of Smoke.”
The village was established in the 1800s and was once used by the outlaws as a hideout. At the present day, many activities and natural wonders have drawn visitors to the town, making it one of the best places to visit in Lesotho.
- From Semonkong Airport Lesotho, head west toward A5.
- Turn right onto A5.
- Make a left turn then you turn right.
- Turn left.
- Make a right turn. These directions will lead you to Semonkong Lodge, a lodge that hosts many activities within the area, including those by Maletsunyane Falls. And the entire drive will take around ten minutes from the nearest airport.
Things to Do
Semonkong has one of the most diverse activities you can enjoy during your stay in Lesotho. It’s perfect for both adventure seekers and travelers in need of a relaxing trip. Here is a list of activities you can enjoy if you want an unforgettable experience in Lesotho.
1. Try Abseiling off Maletsunyane Waterfalls
For thrill-seekers and outdoor enthusiasts, make sure to try abseiling off of Maletsunyane’s ledge. Semonkong Lodge operates the longest commercially operated single-drop, officially recognized by the Guinness World Records. If you want the exhilarating feeling of jumping off a cliff with the spraying water right beside you, then make sure to try this activity that isn’t for the faint of heart.
2. Take a Hike to the Villages
The area near Semonkong Lodge boasts beautiful scenery to explore on foot. You have the option to hike the trails or even take a guided overnight trek to the nearby villages. The lodge organizes these activities, which you can also go by using packhorses that’ll carry your belongings.
3. Experience the Culture Through a Community Tour
If you have some spare time, drop by Semonkong Town and learn more about its culture through a community tour. You can participate in a guided tour, visit the local market and brewery, and enjoy authentic cuisine at the local restaurant. Check out other activities you can do in the town hosted by Semonkong Lodge at the lodge’s website www.semonkonglodge.com/tours/.
4. Go Mountain Biking Around the Falls
If you want more outdoor fun, sign up for one of the mountain biking events that the lodge hosts at the Lesotho Sky MTB Challenge. For those who are up for the adventure, participate in the six-hour-long ride if you think your legs won’t fail you. For more novice riders, you can take shorter rides around the falls instead and savor the lush greenery in the area.
5. Watch Horse Races during Winter
Semonkong’s remoteness from the rest of Southern Africa allows Basotho ponies to thrive and stay as an important part of the everyday Basotho life. If you’re at Lesotho during winter or one of its significant holidays (the King’s birthday or Independence Day), try to see and experience the horse races held by locals who are eager to showcase their best horses.
Thaba Bosiu, which means “Mounin of the Night'' is a historical plateau found in the Maseru region. It used to be a place of refuge for King Moshoeshoe I and his people. But what once was a stronghold is nothing but a royal graveyard now. Nevertheless, the place holds a lot of culture and history and has many attractions that draw-in tourists every year. So if you want a cultural experience in Lesotho, make sure not to skip Thaba Bosiu.
- From Moshoeshoe I International Airport, head north, then turn left.
- Turn right onto Main South 1 Rd/A2.
- Choose a right turn and then a left.
- Make a slight right.
- Turn right.
- Make a left turn twice. It will take you roughly half an hour to reach your destination.
Things to Do
Thaba Bosiu is one of the oldest and most legendary places in Lesotho, and your trip to the plateau will surely bring you closer to the nation’s history. Check out some things you can do to make the most out of the monumental area.
1. Visit the Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village
Head to the cultural village to experience traditional Sesotho life, complete with its village dwellings like the Khotla or the Chief’s Hut, the Thakaneng or the children’s playground, and other traditional buildings. You can even watch some cultural performances and book a village tour if you want to immerse yourself in the place.
2. Drop by the Museum
The Thaba Bosiu mountains are home to the rich and deeply-rooted history of Lesotho. So make sure to drop by the village museum to know more about the country’s, as well as the village’s, history. Guests can participate in interactive multimedia presentations or look at the cultural exhibits to learn about Lesotho’s pre and post-colonial past.
3. Take a Bite at their Restaurant
If you want a taste of traditional, but at the same time contemporary cuisine, be sure to head to the Shoeshoe Restaurant for authentic Basotho food. The menu covers breakfast, lunch, and even dinner meals, so you have the option of having breakfast at night if you want to. If you want a fine dining yet cultural experience, then make sure to try out the food served at the Shoeshoe Restaurant.
4. Look at the Royal Cemetery and Graves
Drop by the Royal Cemetery for a historic but slightly macabre experience in Thaba Bosiu. The village was known to be a fortress for the first King and his people. Thus, it shouldn’t be a surprise that he and his clan are buried there. If you visit the cemetery, you’ll get to see the tombs of King Moshoeshoe I and his successors, King Letsie I until King Moshoeshoe II, and even the graves of other royals and dignitaries.
5. Take Some Snaps of Mount Qiloane
Near Thaba Bosiu is Mount Qiloane, a conical mountain landmark that inspired the mokorotlo, or the traditional Basotho hat. A pillar of sandstone, roughly 30 meters off the ground, sits atop the hill and is made up of three steps that gradually taper to a point. Before you leave, don’t forget to take some pictures of the stunning view to have a memento of one of the most legendary and unique looking mountains in Lesotho.
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