At the end of July, the UNHCR officially handed over to the Lesotho government 48 low-cost brick houses that had been used for three decades as housing for apartheid refugees from South Africa and neighboring countries at the beginning of the apartheid era as part of its permanent refugee problem. The United Nations Refugee Agency has officially returned the homes, expressing its long-term concern for the future of a country whose refugee problems have long been there. In the early 1990 "s, when apartheid ended and refugee numbers fell to just 1,000 - a fraction of the 7,000 in Swaziland, which was Africa's largest refugee population at the end of apartheid - Lesothso hosted more than 4,500 of them. Although the number of refugees fell to around 2,400 in the early 1990 "s, when South Africa returned to democratic rule, some of the buildings housing apartheid refugees from South Africa are still owned by UN refugee agencies.
Students were allowed to attend local schools, and the National University of Lesotho even became home to some of the country's most talented students from South Africa and other neighboring countries.
Basutoland became its crown colony again in 1884 and the capital again became its capital. In 1963, neighboring South Africa introduced a documentation law requiring all Lesotho citizens to present travel documents before crossing the South African border. Lesothso was subject to an economic embargo that prevented it from flying its planes into South African territory and blocked food imports.
The British diplomatic mission charged 50 PS50 (an additional PS70) for processing Lesotho's visa applications, while the authorities in Lesotho demanded that the visa application be transferred to them. However, they decided not to charge the additional fee because they were in direct correspondence with the South African Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development (MDFID).
For information on taxi driving from Lesotho to Maseru, call Comfort Taxis and Khosana on (0800)
If you need a visa to enter Lesotho, you can apply for one in the country where you are legally resident or if you are in a foreign mission in Lesotho. If you have a serious health problem in Lesotho, visit the best hospitals near the border with South Africa, which are free for those who can afford it. Four-wheel drive is also available via the Sani Pass on the eastern border for entry and exit to Lesothso. If you rent a car in France, Germany, Italy, Spain or any other country outside the EU or the USA, you will be allowed to bring your car to Lestho. However, if you rent a car from Lesrotho, it may not be covered by your car insurance.
A driver may bring a car rented in South Africa to Lesotho without the written permission of the lessee. If you drive to Bloemfontein, you could easily hitch-hike to Lestho, but pay attention to the number plate of Lesothso.
However, it is risky to walk to Maseru alone, so check the UK Government's travel advice if you are against the government. Lesotho's borders with South Africa are porous, and individuals or groups with links to terrorism can move freely between the two countries without permission from the local government or security forces. Criminals can, however, smuggle firearms into the country because they have to behave under very strict gun control laws, and governments are very concerned about the threat of terrorist attacks in the region, particularly in Masekele.
Kidnappings are rare, but most are more accurately classified as false imprisonment and are usually kidnappings in which the criminal drives the victim to an ATM to collect money for later release. If you are visiting Lesotho or anywhere in southern Africa, bring an unlocked mobile phone and buy a pay-per-sim card to stay connected. The South African Vodacom Sim Card can be used if you have it, as long as it has at least 1 GB of data per month.
It is best to work from home with a cash card, but it is good to get some cash in South Africa beforehand, especially if you are going to be kidnapped.
The official currency of Lesotho is the loti (LSL, plural maloti), which is divided into 100 litres. While change is usually given in lotus, lotsi and rand are legal tender in South Africa.
The loti is tied 1: 1 to the South African Rand (ZAR), the edge 0.5: 1. Lesotho is a member of the African Union, along with Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. SouthAfrican Airways (12) flies daily from Maseru to Johannesburg, which normally costs M2200.
Moshoeshoe I International Airport is located about 20 km southeast of Maseru, but the flight is quite expensive and the small plane can be cramped. You can fly to most of Lesotho's runways, except for Moshoehoei Airport, the capital of South Africa, at Msholotsho Airport.