Lesotho

Latest update

This Advice was last issued on Thursday, 17 April 2014.   It has been reviewed and reissued with editorial amendments. We continue to advise Australians to exercise a high degree of caution in Lesotho because of the high levels of crime.

Lesotho overall

Summary

  • We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Lesotho because of the high levels of crime.
  • Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.
  • The level of HIV/AIDS infection in Lesotho is very high. You should exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.
  • Australia does not have an Embassy or Consulate in Lesotho. The Australian High Commission in South Africa provides consular assistance to Australians in Lesotho.
  • Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
click on image to expand

Entry and exit

Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Contact the nearest Embassy or Consulate of Lesotho for the most up to date information.

Make sure your passport has at least six months' validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.

If you are arriving from a country where yellow fever is endemic, you will be required to present a valid yellow fever certificate to be allowed entry into Lesotho.

Australians travelling to or from Lesotho through South Africa (including transiting) should read the Entry and exit section of our travel advice for South Africa. In particular, you should note South Africa’s Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate requirements and its policy on provisional travel documents (i.e. one page travel documents).

Safety and security

Terrorism

Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General advice to Australian travellers.

Civil unrest/Political tension

You should avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings as they may turn violent.

Crime

We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in Lesotho because of the high levels of crime. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks.

Armed robbery, carjacking, petty theft and pickpocketing occur frequently, particularly in the capital Maseru. There are also incidents of gun-related crime and residential break-ins, particularly in Maseru. Foreigners are often targeted.

Security risks increase at night and during weekends. Avoid walking alone or at night. Do not leave valuables in your car, keep car doors locked and car windows shut at all times and do not pick up hitchhikers. Be particularly vigilant at ATMs because of the risk of crime.

Due to the very high prevalence of HIV/AIDS, victims of violent crime, especially rape, are strongly encouraged to seek immediate medical assistance.

Money and valuables

Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. The South African rand is widely accepted in Lesotho. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries.

Consult with your bank to find out whether your ATM card will work in Lesotho. Care should be exercised when withdrawing money from an ATM because of the risk of theft. We recommend you use ATMs in controlled areas such as banks, shops and shopping centres. Keep your credit card in sight at all times when using it.

Make two photocopies of valuable documents such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep one copy with you in a separate place to the original and leave another copy with someone at home.

While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.

As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.

You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passports.

Local travel

Driving in Lesotho can be hazardous due to poor local driving practices, poorly maintained vehicles and inadequate lighting. While roads between main urban centres tend to be in good condition, the majority of Lesotho's roads are unpaved and poorly maintained. Some rural areas are only accessible by four-wheel-drive vehicles. Roads in mountainous areas are often steep and twisting. Wild animals and livestock often stray onto roads. For further advice, see our road travel page.

Buses and taxis are poorly maintained and often overloaded.

Airline safety

Please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.

Laws

When you are in Lesotho, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.

Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.

Penalties for drug offences, including possession of 'soft drugs', are severe and include lengthy imprisonment.

Serious offences, such as murder and rape, carry the death sentence.

Homosexual acts between men are illegal under common law. See our LGBTI travellers page.

Photography around military or government buildings is prohibited.

Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, child pornography, and child sex tourism, apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.

Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.

Information for dual nationals

Lesotho does not recognise dual nationality. This may limit the ability of the Australian Government to provide consular assistance to Australian/Basotho dual nationals who are arrested or detained. We recommend you travel on your Australian passport at all times.

Our Dual nationals page provides further information.

Health

We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.

It is important to consider your physical and mental health before travelling overseas. We encourage you to consider having vaccinations before you travel. At least eight weeks before you depart, make an appointment with your doctor or travel clinic for a basic health check-up, and to discuss your travel plans and any implications for your health, particularly if you have an existing medical condition. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our health page also provides useful information for travellers on staying healthy.

Medical facilities in Lesotho are very basic. Visitors are advised to use facilities in Bloemfontein, South Africa (140 kms from Maseru). In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a major centre in South Africa or to Australia would be necessary. Medical evacuation costs would be considerable.

You should take an adequate supply of the medications you require as they may not be available in Lesotho.

The rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Lesotho is very high. You should exercise appropriate precautions if engaging in activities that expose you to risk of infection.

Water-borne, food-borne and other infectious diseases (including tuberculosis, typhoid, hepatitis, filariasis and rabies) are prevalent with more serious outbreaks occurring from time to time. We advise you to boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, and avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Do not swim in fresh water to avoid exposure to certain water-borne diseases such as bilharzia (schistosomiasis). Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.

Where to get help

Australia does not have a High Commission or Consulate in Lesotho. You can obtain consular assistance from the nearest Australian High Commission which is in South Africa:

Australian High Commission, Pretoria

292 Orient Street
Arcadia
Pretoria 0083, South Africa
Telephone +27 (0) 12 423 6000
Facsimile +27 (0) 12 342 8442
Email pretoria.info@dfat.gov.au
Website http://www.australia.co.za

If you are travelling to Lesotho, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.

In a consular emergency, if you are unable to contact the above High Commission you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.

In Australia, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra may be contacted on (02) 6261 3305.

Additional information

Wildlife

Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens’ advice.

For parents

For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children page.



While every care has been taken in preparing this information, neither the Australian Government nor its agents or employees, including any member of Australia's diplomatic and consular staff abroad, can accept liability for any injury, loss or damage arising in respect of any statement contained herein.

Maps are presented for information only. The department accepts no responsibility for errors or omission of any geographic feature. Nomenclature and territorial boundaries may not necessarily reflect Australian Government policy.