In recent years, Lesotho became somewhat of a go-to for travelers looking for novelty, and for great reason, it is one of the most beautiful countries in Southern Africa. However, there have been less-than-reassuring reports from those who have visited this sanctuary.
How safe is Lesotho for tourists? Is Lesotho safe for solo women travelers? These are the most frequently asked question when it comes to this country. In this Lesotho safety guide, we’ll give you plenty of Lesotho safety travel tips and tackle each risk you might expose yourself to during your vacation there.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting The Kingdom of Lesotho
Overall Risks in Lesotho: MEDIUM
South Africa has a reputation for being unsafe for tourists for a wide variety of reasons. First of all, its countries are extremely poor. Some of them are struggling badly with a lack of proper healthcare, jobs, epidemics, rape, violence, and political turmoil.
Lesotho is without a doubt one of the least dangerous countries in South Africa. This doesn’t mean that you should go there without taking some common-sense precautions. The risk of getting mugged, for instance, is pretty high, as is that of being scammed.
There is also a multitude of reports of cars being stolen and the drivers being subjected to violence. While Lesotho is exponentially safer than many countries in South Africa, there are plenty of things to watch out for. Is Lesotho safe to visit? – it is, yes, but this shouldn’t warrant you throwing caution to the wind.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Lesotho: HIGH
Due to being a poor country, some of the locals resort to stealing. You shouldn’t go there with all the jewelry you have on you or expose other valuables. Violence is very common in Lesotho and muggers have no problem whatsoever using it.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Lesotho?
Don’t wear necklaces, rings, and any other items that might get you in trouble. And we get that taking photos is a must when visiting a foreign country, but don’t wear your camera around your neck.
Thieves operate in and around the major tourist sites, so make sure you avoid large crowds, as well as the empty streets, particularly during the night. If you can get a guide you can trust, then by all means do so. He/She will know the hot spots for thieves.
Scamming Risk in Lesotho: HIGH
In Lesotho, you can easily be charged for everything, from cab fares and food from street vendors to lodging. This is where your negotiation skills will come in handy. Consider staying at a reputable hotel and always double-check prices.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Lesotho?
If you have any hunch that you’re about to be scammed, you should move on; the commonest form of scamming in Lesotho is the classic cab fare. Taxi drivers have a 6th sense of tourists and will not shy away from asking some absurd amounts of money for even the shortest fares.
Stay away from unofficial taxis and the risk of getting scammed will be decreased a great deal. This is one of the most valuable Lesotho safety travel tips we can give you. An even more valuable one is to ALWAYS have some spare change in your pocket.
If you carry big bills on you and you’ll ask for change from a taxi driver, you might be in for some really nasty surprise, i.e. he’ll say that you’ll have to put another bill on to cover the fare.
Kidnapping Risk in Lesotho: LOW
Violence and political unrest are common in Lesotho, but kidnapping isn’t. People mainly resort to petty crimes like a mugging. Obviously, this doesn’t mean that you should stroll around the country as if you’re home.
The most frequent form of kidnapping is the express one, in which people are taken to ATMs under the threat of violence and need to withdraw a certain amount of money to be left alone. Fortunately, even this form is pretty uncommon in Lesotho, so you’re safe from this point of view.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Lesotho?
Given that the kidnapping risk is low in Lesotho, you don't need to take any drastic measures to avoid such scenarios. Let's say that you only need a bit of common sense and some caution, meaning that you should stay away from remote areas or, if you are in an urban area, away from the city outskirts, slums, and its shady alleys.
In short, you should stay away from places that would not be generally safe for tourists. Don't put yourself in danger just because you feel like exploring more. Stay safe, stay on the tourist road.
Terrorism Risk in Lesotho: LOW
Sure, political clashes are pretty common in Lesotho, but terrorism isn’t something you should worry about. Political marches and violent protests are confined to the larger areas and are nonexistent in the remote ones. Anarchist groups exist, but they don’t target tourists or civilians, for that matter.
As a traveler, the last thing you should lose sleep over it whilst in Lesotho is terrorism. You’ve got higher chances of being struck by lightning than to become a victim of terrorism.
- How to avoid terrorism in Lesotho?
Once again, terrorism has a low risk of happening in Lesotho - still, this doesn't mean that you should entirely exclude this risk. In order to avoid being involved in any acts of terrorism, it is recommended to keep an eye out for any suspicious activity, especially if you are in a very crowded area.
Moreover, if you are visiting places of prayer, official buildings, large shopping malls, markets, or town squares, you might as well want to keep an eye out for any suspicious individuals or packages.
Risk For Women Traveling Alone in Lesotho: MEDIUM
If you take some precautions, you will be relatively safe in Lesotho. Rape is very common, that’s true, but it’s mainly confined to rural areas where there’s no law enforcement.
We know that BNB is a very good way of saving some money and getting to know the locals and their culture, but as tempting as it may sound, we advise you to get accommodation at a good hotel.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler?
You never know who has ill intentions and the last place you want to stay with complete strangers is Lesotho and South Africa in general. Do not give in to strangers that seem too eager to show you around or are too friendly. And we shouldn’t even mention this, but we will: DO NOT TRAVEL DURING THE NIGHT.
Stay in your room until the morning. You’re not missing out on anything and you’ll be safe. You might be itching to visit that amazing nightclub you’ve been told about, but remember this: you’re in a foreign country where you have no friends therefore you’re pretty much the perfect prey.
Rape Risk in Lesotho: HIGH
Lesotho has a disastrous reputation for rape and violence against women. However, efforts were made in dismantling the ideology that leads to rape. These are slow, though, and rape remains a huge problem in Lesotho.
Do not, by any means, walk the streets alone at night or visit remote areas where police forces are wildly ineffective. From this standpoint, Lesotho is one of the most unsafe countries to visit as a woman, particularly as a solo traveler.
Keep in mind that the efficiency of the Police is almost nonexistent in South Africa, so you might not be able to find help in case you’re targeted. Travel only by day and even if you prefer traveling alone, consider refraining from doing it. You can travel solo in any other country, but Lesotho shouldn’t be on your list.
So, is Lesotho safe for solo women travelers? Sadly, no, it is not. Quite from the contrary, it’s like going to fight a bear with plastic cutlery.
- How to avoid getting raped in Lesotho?
As mentioned above, it is strongly recommended that you avoid traveling during the night, as well as alone. The streets of Lesotho can be very dangerous, especially if you take the routes that are not used by tourists - it is obvious why. We reinforce what we said in a couple of paragraphs and advise you to stick with the tourist-recommended areas and avoid any exploring on your own.
Moreover, make sure you acknowledge the country's local laws as customs so that you do not offend any locals. Obviously, it is recommended that you approach a decent outfit and not interact with any strangers if you are alone. Keep valuables and cash out of sight - any simple robbery can turn into something more serious, given the right reasons, so to speak.
Risks For People Traveling with Children in Lesotho: LOW
The main risk is the lack of proper medical services. Get a first-aid kit, just in case, and refrain from traveling during the night. You don’t want your car to break down in the middle of nowhere.
Also, the driving conditions in Lesotho are brutal, especially in the rural areas.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
One of the most important rules that you should follow, when it comes to traveling with children, is to always travel with one or more companions that are able to take care of the little ones when you cannot do so. Even though there are little to no risks that would put their safety at risk, it is still recommended that someone keeps an eye on them at all times.
The children could either get lost in a big crowd, simply make themselves unseen, or - worst case scenario - get themselves into some dangerous situations if you are not watching over them.
In terms of health, it is recommended that you pack up a proper first-aid kit that would be competent in healing/ dealing some possible problems - band-aids, ache pills, for example for headaches, stomachaches, and so on, as well as any pills they may need in alleviating other affections.
Natural Disaster Risks in Lesotho: LOW
Heavy snowfall and drought are common in Lesotho, but earthquakes, flash floods, and other extreme weather events are relatively uncommon. During the summer, drought is prevalent while in the mountainous area, frost is king.
If you want to visit as much of the country as you can, make sure you get clothes for both warm and extremely cold weather. Take a look at the weather predictions before you leave for Lesotho.
You are probably expecting a list of vaccines among our Lesotho safety travel tips and we are obliged to provide it, of course.
Transportation Risks in Lesotho: MEDIUM to HIGH
First of all, it is worth mentioning that there is no transport system in effect in Lesotho. The only way through which you can travel with a vehicle - besides your own car or possibly a bus provided by your travel agency - is via taxis. If you do wish to rely on a taxi, it is recommended that you use only pre-booked taxis and avoid hailing them down the street, as most drivers are known to either scam or try to rob their passengers.
In terms of driving standards, they are very poor - thus, careful driving is strongly recommended. The local mini-bus taxis - a variation of the taxi transport system -, are usually poorly maintained, uninsured, while drivers are known to ignore safety and road rules.
Moreover, if you are driving your own car, keep in mind that animals crossing or just being on the road is a hazard. Naturally, the chances of encountering an animal or more on the road increase during the night.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Lesotho: MEDIUM
Even though there are no reports on the use of drink spiking in Lesotho, we still recommend you to be cautious when ordering drinks or when accepting them from a stranger, even from someone you've just met. Also, given the fact that muggers frequently target foreign nationals, especially in Central Maseru, it is likely that you will be approached and talked to by people who don't have good intentions, so to say.
When it comes to visiting nightclubs, pubs, and bars, it is recommended that you stay extremely cautious. Keep your belonging close to you and do not join random people's groups. In fact, you should not be going to such facilities if you are not accompanied.
Be particularly careful when going to or returning from the nightclubs, pub, or bar, as well as when walking on foot around it. Taxi drivers might try to either scam or rob you, while opportunist muggers or petty thieves might patrol the surrounding areas of the aforementioned type of locations in order to find some prey.
In short, be cautious, vigilant, and always keep an eye out for anything suspicious.
Health Risks in Lesotho
The Kingdom of Lesotho comes with basic healthcare and medical facilities. Expatriates here usually rely on the medical facilities found in Bloemfontein - a 90-minute drive from Maseru, in South Africa.
Naturally, it is strongly recommended that you travel with proper travel health insurance, as well as with enough funds to cover the costs of any treatment of medicine that you might have to pay for. This includes emergency transfers, helicopter transfers, and such.
Make sure that you do have quite a generous amount of money in one of the bank accounts that you can use while visiting this country, in order to make sure that - in the case of an injury, especially a severe one - you are able to use your funds and get treated as soon as possible.
The country's medical assistance number is 121. After calling an ambulance and being referred to a medical facility, if it is required, you should contact either your insurance company or medical assistance company as soon as possible and inform them of your situation.
They will help by telling you if the treatment or medicine that you might have to pay for will be covered by the insurance or not, as well as many other suggestions and recommendations.
List of Vaccines You Need in Lesotho
We know that you’re probably scared of the number of vaccines you will need for Lesotho, given that it’s a country in South Africa, which is known for frequent endemics and a faulty healthcare system.
The situation isn’t as black, though. In fact, when visiting Lesotho, you need the exact same vaccines you would when traveling anywhere else. For instance, the vaccines for Hepatitis A and B, rabies, influenza, and cholera are compulsory.
Yellow fever and typhoid fever are relatively common in South Africa, so make sure that you get immunization against them. Keep in mind that healthcare in South Africa is a problem and that hospitals that are actually equipped are scarce. Make no mistakes – get all the vaccines and you’ll be on the safe side of things.
Most Dangerous Areas in Lesotho
- Central Maseru - this is where most muggers/ petty thieves that target foreign nationals are active. Naturally, if you are in the city you will most likely have to pass through its center; therefore, caution and vigilance is recommended.
- Border Crossings - reportedly, there have been quite some cases of armed car-jacking taking place near the country's border crossings. Either be very careful if approaches one, or simply stay away from it. If you are involved in such an incident, hopefully not, it is recommended to not resist and comply with the attackers' requests.
Concluding Remarks: Is Lesotho Safe to Visit?
South Africa has a bad reputation among travelers. It’s still in development and it’s got a ton of problems that the “modern” world has gotten rid of. Lesotho, however, is a relatively safe country to visit, especially when travelers have taken all safety precautions.
We want to warn against women traveling there solo because it’s unsafe. There are plenty of safer countries where you can go alone, but Lesotho isn’t one of them.
We hope that you’ve found this Lesotho safety guide useful and that it provided all the Lesotho safety traveling tips that you were looking for. It’s certainly better to know what trouble you could get into beforehand rather than when you’ve already gotten into it.