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Lesotho

If you’re travelling to Lesotho, our travel advice and updates give you practical tips and useful information. 

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake.

Overview

Security status

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Lesotho.

Latest alert

There was an attempted coup in Lesotho in August 2014 and the security situation in the following months was unpredictable and tense. Notwithstanding the holding of peaceful elections in February and the formation of a new government in March 2015, the political and security situations remain tense. The killing of a former army commander in late June 2015 has further increased tension in the country.

Irish citizens resident in or visiting Lesotho are advised to limit their movements at this time and to take particular care if it is necessary for you to travel after dark or outside the capital Maseru.

You should monitor the local media for new information on any potential security risks and follow the instruction issued by the local authorities. You should also avoid all demonstrations, protests and public gatherings.

Emergency assistance

Because there is no Irish Embassy in Lesotho, we’re limited in the help we can offer you in an emergency. However, if you need assistance, you can contact the Honorary Consulate in Maseru or the Irish Embassy in Pretoria.

Other EU Embassies

You can also contact the Embassies or Consulates of other EU countries in the Central African Republic for emergency consular assistance, advice and support.  

Our tips for safe travels

  • Purchase comprehensive travel insurance which covers all your intended activities
  • Add an alert for your destination within the Travelwise App.
  • Register your details with us so that we can contact you quickly in an emergency, such as a natural disaster or a family emergency
  • Follow us on twitter @dfatravelwise for the latest travel updates
  • Read our Topical ‘Know Before You Go’ guide

 

Safety and security

Political unrest

Lesotho's national general elections in February 2015 and the subsequent formation of a coalition government seem to have calmed the previously volatile political situation that followed an attempted coup in August 2014. However, you should remain alert. There are occasionally spontaneous political demonstrations in Maseru and it's advisable to avoid demonstrations, rallies and large public gatherings as a precaution. 

Terrorism

Although the threat from terrorism in Lesotho is low, there is still a global risk of indiscriminate terrorist attacks, which could be against civilian targets, including places frequented by tourists and expatriates.

Crime

Crime remains relatively low in Lesotho but you should take sensible precautions:

  • Don’t carry your credit card, travel tickets and money together - leave spare cash and valuables in a safe place.
  • Don’t carry your passport unless absolutely necessary and leave a copy of your passport (and travel and insurance documents) with family or friends at home.
  • Avoid showing large sums of money in public and don’t use ATMs after dark, especially if you’re alone. Check no one has followed you after conducting your business.
  • Avoid dark and unlit streets and stairways, and arrange to be picked up or dropped off as close to your hotel or apartment entrance as possible.
  • Keep a close eye on your personal belongings and hold on to them in public places such as internet cafés, train and bus stations.
  • Do not walk around Maseru after dark and avoid driving in rural areas at night.
  • Keep doors locked, windows shut and valuables out of sight when driving in urban centres, especially Maseru.

Petty theft

Muggers in central Maseru sometimes target foreign nationals. We advise you to avoid walking alone in isolated areas or after dark and driving in rural areas at night. Only carry essentials with you and keep valuables out of sight.

Theft from vehicles

When driving in urban centres, especially Maseru, keep doors locked, windows shut and valuables out of sight. Park in well-lit areas and don’t pick up strangers. Take care at the approaches to main border crossings, particularly at night. Armed car hijacking is also increasing.

Personal safety

There have been recent incidences of armed attacks on pedestrians. If you have no alternative but to walk around Maseru, avoid taking the same route repeatedly and be vigilant. If you are attacked, or your car is hijacked, don’t resist.

Taxis

There is a public transport/taxi service in Lesotho but safety cannot be guaranteed. We recommend you take telephone taxis. Always confirm the fare in advance and never take a lift from a stranger.

Reporting crime

If you’re a victim of a crime while in Lesotho, report it to the local police immediately. And you can contact us at our Irish Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa if you need help.

Driving

If you’re planning to drive in Lesotho, you should be extremely careful as road safety standards are poor.

If you want to drive:

  • Bring your international driving license and make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance – after three months, you must get a local driving licence
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is against the law and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving if caught
  • Keep your vehicle doors locked and your bags kept out of sight to prevent opportunistic bag-snatching if you’re stopped at traffic lights
  • Watch out for animals roaming on the roads, especially at night
  • Local mini-bus taxis are often poorly maintained and uninsured, and ignore road safety rules

Vehicle hire

If you’re hiring a vehicle, we advise you not to hand over your passport as a form of security. If you’re allowing your passport to be photocopied, keep it in your sight at all times.

Check that you have adequate insurance and read the small print of the vehicle hire contract (particularly any waiver that will come into effect if the vehicle is damaged).

Local laws and customs

Remember, the local laws apply to you as a visitor and it is your responsibility to follow them. Be sensitive to local customs, traditions and practices as your behaviour may be seen as improper, hostile or may even be illegal.

Illegal drugs

Illegal drug use (no matter what the drug) carries stiff penalties, including fines and long prison terms. 

Health

Please be aware that Lesotho lacks good medical facilities. 

HIV and AIDS

There is a high incidence of HIV and AIDS in Lesotho so you should exercise necessary caution if engaging in activities that expose you to possible infection. 

Get travel and medical insurance

Before travelling, the Department strongly recommends that you obtain comprehensive travel insurance which will cover all overseas medical costs, including medical repatriation/evacuation, repatriation of remains and legal costs. You should check any exclusions and, in particular, that your policy covers you for the activities you want to undertake. 

Vaccinations

Check what vaccinations you may need for your trip at least eight weeks before you travel. We can’t advise you on vaccinations, but you can get information about vaccinations from your local GP or an International Health and Travel Centre.

Evidence of vaccination (in the form of a certificate) can be a requirement for entry to some countries.

Medication

Make sure you bring enough medication for your entire trip and for any unexpected delays. You may wish to also bring copies of your prescription in case you lose your medication.

Additional information

Passports

Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of 90 days from the date of exit from Lesotho. You must have at least two spare pages to allow the immigration authorities to affix visa stamps.

It’s advisable to take a number of photocopies of your passport with you when travelling to Lesotho and you should carry a photocopy of your passport at all times during your stay. 

If your passport is lost or stolen while you’re abroad, we can help.

What we can do:

  • Issue you a replacement passport that will let you finish your trip, or;
  • Issue you with an emergency travel document to get you home.

We’ll do our best to help you as quickly as possible but this can take some time. Your location and circumstances may limit the help we can give you. As Ireland does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Lesotho there may be additional complications in processing and application for a new passport.

You should contact our Irish Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa to find out what you need to do to apply for a passport. They will also be able to advise you on the fees which apply. 

South Africa entry requirements

If you intend to visit South Africa before or after Lesotho you should be aware that whilst South African authorities state officially that only one blank passport page is required for entry, there have been reports of some South African officials insisting on two blank pages. 

Money

You should take traveller's cheques or South African Rand in cash, which circulates as an official currency in Lesotho along with the Maloti (local currency). Maloti are not generally accepted in South Africa. 

ATMs

Some of ATMs in Lesotho have the facility to accept international ATM cards (First National Bank, Nedbank and Standard Bank). Credit cards are widely accepted (Visa/Master cards) in most stores and restaurants in Maseru. However, you may find places in the rural areas that do not accept these cards. 

Climate

Maseru and the surrounding lowlands often reach 30⁰C in summer.

Winters can be cold with lowlands getting down to -7⁰C and the highlands could be as low as -18⁰C at times. Snow is common in the highlands between May and September. Take note of weather forecasts before travelling in the highlands during these months.

Lesotho’s varied climate brings different forms of drought, floods, heavy snowfalls and any other forms of weather-related hazards. At the moment, about three-quarters of all the country’s natural disasters are related to weather, climate and water and their extremes. 

More advice

Ireland doesn’t have an Embassy or Consulate in Lesotho so we can’t verify detailed travel advice to ensure that it’s accurate, appropriate and up to date. However, we encourage you to conduct your own research and to read these links to travel advice from other foreign ministries: