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Literally nestled in South Africa, Lesotho is completely surrounded by its only neighbour. Known as the ‘Kingdom in the Sky’, it is the only country to be entirely above 1,400 metres. This nation of heights and breathtaking natural vistas features mountains, several national reserves, trekking adventures, rock art, villages of the Basotho people and exotic birds, all of which can be taken in through self-drive.
Driving in Lesotho can be challenging and should be done with care. Road conditions can be poor so it is a good idea to hire a four-wheel drive vehicle. Watch out for animals on the road, especially if driving at night. There may be long stretches where there are no petrol stations.
Driving licences: a British driving licence can be used for up to three months or an International Driving Permit for up to a year.
Which side does Lesotho drive on: the left.
Main roads: 60mph (100kph)
Secondary roads: 50mph (80kph)
In towns: 40mph (65kph)
Alcohol limits: 0.10 per cent compared to 0.08 per cent in the UK.
Driving age: 18 years.
Seatbelts: are required to be worn by everyone riding in the car. There are no laws with regards to child restraints.
Mobile phones and GPS: it is illegal to use a mobile phone while driving. GPS, however, can be helpful when travelling outside of the major cities.
Cost of fuel in Lesotho: close to half the price of petrol in the UK.
Car hire and fuel payment: credit cards are not widely accepted. It is advisable to use travellers’ cheques and cash. While the Lesotho loti is the official currency, the South African rand is widely accepted. Credit cards can be used for car hire.
Insurance: when hiring a car, third-party insurance is included in the price. However, drivers are advised to consider excess insurance.
Traffic and parking: parking should always be in a secure location when in the cities. Never leave valuables in parked cars. Traffic is rarely an issue, but cattle on the roads can cause hold ups.
The only railway in Lesotho is the line that connects Maseru with the Bloemfontein-Bethlehem railway network of South Africa. There are no domestic services.
There are private taxis available throughout Maseru and other major cities, costing around £2. There are also minibus taxis that take passengers around the city for about £0.20 and minibus taxis that take passengers between cities for about £4 one way.
There are no longer any direct buses into Lesotho from South Africa. Instead, travellers must take a minibus taxi from a location such as Johannesburg to Maseru. There is a good network of buses that connects cities throughout the country. These buses tend to be slow. Minibus taxis are a quicker option.
The main airport is Moshoeshoe International Airport, which is located just 11 miles (18kms) northeast of Maseru. Travellers coming from the UK generally fly into Johannesburg, South Africa, and then connect to Moshoeshoe International Airport by regional flight. There is no longer a domestic airline so scheduled passenger flights between domestic locations are not available.
The majority of the major cities in Lesotho rest on the border of South Africa and don’t offer much by way of things to see or places to visit. This includes the capital city of Maseru, which is primarily used by visitors as a hub to stock up on supplies before venturing deeper into the country.
Spanning the eastern border between Lesotho and South Africa is Sehlabathebe National Park, where travellers will find impressive hiking, rare wildlife, waterfalls and rock paintings. This remote mountain reserve is well worth a visit.
In the north is Oxbow, which is one of a handful of destinations in Africa where skiing is possible. South of Oxbow is the Bokong National Reserve, famous for its Lepaquoa Waterfall, which is known to freeze into a column of ice in the winter.
From Maseru, take the A2 south to Morija where you can see actual dinosaur footprints. Or, instead, branch off on the A5 for the centre of Lesotho where Semonkong and the Maletsunyane Falls, the highest single drop waterfall in southern Africa, are located.
Lesotho is located in the Southern Hemisphere, with summers here lasting from October until April and winters from May to September. The heaviest rains usually fall between December and February. Summers are hot, with temperatures maxing out at around 35°C in the lowlands and much cooler temperatures in the highlands—averaging about 18°C. While winters are rather mild on the plains, in the mountains the mercury can sometimes drop to below freezing and be accompanied by snow.