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Lesotho travel guide

About Lesotho

Tucked away in the heart of South Africa sits the Kingdom of Lesotho, known to locals as the Kingdom of the Sky and to travellers as the Switzerland of Africa.

As the nicknames suggest, Lesotho is mostly made up of the rolling highlands and dramatic, rugged peaks of the Maloti Mountains, the tallest of which stands at a shade under 3,500m (11,482ft) above sea level. Lesotho is the only independent state in the world that is entirely above 1,000m (304m) altitude.

The high altitude and mountainous geography lend a spectacularly scenic backdrop to the numerous outdoor activities on offer, including pony trekking, rock climbing, fishing, abseiling, hiking, bird watching, mountain biking and even skiing on the snow-covered slopes below the Mahlasela Pass.

The existence of valuable mineral and water resources led developers to build roads through some areas of Lesotho, but much of the kingdom and its villages remain remote and can only be reached on foot, by horseback or by light aircraft.

But Lesotho’s remoteness is a large part of its appeal, and this also helps preserve the rich traditional culture of the Basotho people, which you can experience at a number of cultural villages dotted across the kingdom. Lesotho also boasts some prominent examples of ancient rock paintings made by the nomadic San people that once inhabited this area.

Since Lesotho gained its independence from the British, poverty and unemployment have seen this protectorate lose a large percentage of its population to South Africa’s mines, while those that stayed behind have had to live with one of the world’s highest rates of HIV, which in turn has had detrimental effects on the country’s economy.

But while Lesotho might not be able to boast the wealth and infrastructure of its much larger neighbour, when it comes to raw adventure and natural beauty it can certainly hold its own.

Key facts


30,355 sq km.


2,160,309 (UN estimate 2016).

Population density:

64.2 per sq km.




Constitutional monarchy.

Head of state:

King Letsie III since 1996.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Sam Matekane since 2022.

Travel Advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Lesotho set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Lesotho High Commission Lesotho in the UK.

All visitors to Lesotho must travel through South Africa, whether travelling by air or land. You need to meet South Africa’s entry requirements.

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Lesotho.

Passport validity requirements

To enter Lesotho, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 90 days after the date you arrive.

Make sure you get your passport stamped.

You need at least 4 blank pages for passport stamping. Lesotho border control need to stamp your passport and so do South African border control on your way to and from Lesotho.   

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

Visa requirements 

You can visit Lesotho for up to 90 days without a visa.

You can extend your stay by completing a 90-day temporary permit extension form and taking it to the Visa Application Centre in the Manthabiseng Convention Centre, Maseru. Your passport will need to be valid for the extension period.  

If you overstay without permission, the authorities may detain you and will charge you weekly fines.   

Vaccination requirements

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the vaccinations and certificates you need in TravelHealthPro’s Lesotho guide.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Lesotho. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.  

Taking money into Lesotho

Declare cash or travellers cheques in any currency if the value is 25,000 Lesotho loti or more. If you do not, the authorities could seize your money when you leave and you could be fined.  

The Lesotho loti is pegged to the South African rand on a one-to-one basis. Both currencies are accepted throughout Lesotho.

UK debit and credit cards are widely accepted for payment and at ATMs. If you are travelling outside Maseru, take enough cash to cover local purchases.


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.    

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Lesotho

Although there’s no recent history of terrorism in Lesotho, attacks cannot be ruled out.  

Political situation

There are occasional political demonstrations in Maseru. These are usually peaceful, but there is a risk of isolated incidents of violence. Move away from demonstrations or gatherings, particularly if you see the security forces are present. Lesotho successfully held elections in 2022 but has had a history which includes political-related violence in past decades.  


Much of the violent crime in Lesotho is gun crime between organised crime groups. However, foreigners are vulnerable to opportunistic street crime and vehicle crime.

Gender-based violence is very high in Lesotho. Most crimes based on gender are between people who already know each other, but violence towards women and girls happens in all areas of the country.

Mugging and violent vehicle crime

Muggers can target foreign nationals. Do not walk alone in isolated areas or after dark.

Armed carjackers or robbers may try to stop your car or get into it while you are stationary. The danger is greatest in urban areas. Do not stop your car if people try to flag you down and do not give lifts to strangers.

Keep doors locked, windows shut and valuables out of sight. If you are driving across the country:

  • try to drive during daylight hours
  • take care near border crossings and at road junctions
  • be wary of road blocks that need you to stop or slow down

If you are caught up in an attack, do not offer any resistance.

Petty theft and burglary

Take precautions to safeguard your valuables and cash. Leave them in hotel safes, if possible. Keep copies of important documents, including your passport’s photo page and entry stamps, in a separate place.

There is often an increase in thefts, especially burglaries from villas, leading up to the Christmas and Easter holiday periods.

Laws and cultural differences

Personal ID

Always carry a copy of the photo page of your passport and your entry stamp. Officials may ask to see these.

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

Possession of drugs is a serious offence and punishments can be severe, including prison sentences.

LGBT+ travellers

Sexual activity between men is illegal, but FCDO is not aware of this being enforced. Showing affection in public may attract unwanted and negative attention.

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Transport risks

Road travel

You can use a UK photocard driving licence to drive in Lesotho for up to 3 months. If you still have a paper driving licence, you may need to update it to a photocard licence or get the correct version of the international driving permit (IDP) as well.

Driving standards and road conditions in Lesotho are poor. You should drive with caution.

Animals roaming on the roads are a hazard, especially at night.

Taxis and minibuses

Local minibus taxis (‘4+1s’) may be poorly maintained and uninsured. They often ignore road safety rules including speed limits. Avoid using them and steer clear of them when driving.

It’s safer to use transport arranged by your accommodation or by a tour operator.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical numbers

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, call 112 and ask for an ambulance.

If 112 is not operating, call locally on 80093030121. 

You can also access emergency treatment across the border in South Africa. Mediclinic Bloemfontein is a 90-minute drive (140km) from Maseru and has private ambulances. 

Mediclinic: +27 51 404 6225

Ambulance: ER24 +27 102053588

Contact your insurance company quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Vaccinations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip check:

Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Lesotho. Read more about altitude sickness on TravelHealthPro.


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.

Healthcare facilities in Lesotho

Lesotho has basic medical facilities. Most foreign visitors use healthcare facilities in Bloemfontein, South Africa, a 90-minute drive from Maseru.

In Lesotho, Queen Mamohato Memorial Hospital (+266 2231 3260) and Maseru Private Hospital (+266 2233 3600) are the main hospitals. Both are in the Maseru area. Outside of Maseru there are District hospitals in most of the Districts.

FCDO has a list of medical facilities in Lesotho.  

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Lesotho

Telephone: 112 (ambulance, fire, police) 

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you are in Lesotho and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa who provide consular assistance for Lesotho.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

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