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Country Reports

Lesotho Country Report

Overview

INTRODUCTION

The small, mountainous, and landlocked country of Lesotho (population 1.9 million) presents few risks for travelers. Travelers should, however, take note of the country’s recently turbulent political environment.

SOCIOPOLITICAL RISKS

A political crisis broke out in late August 2014 following the deployment of the military to the residence of Prime Minister Thomas Thabane in the capital Maseru. Prime Minister Thabane sought refuge in South Africa, calling the move an attempted military coup d’état; he returned to Lesotho several days later under the protection of the SADC (Southern African Development Community). General elections were held in early 2015 and a new government has been sworn in, raising hopes that this would return the country to order. However, tensions surged once again in summer 2015 following the assassination of an army major, rival of the prime minister, threatening the country’s political stability.

CRIME

Given the risk of crime in the country, travelers should adhere to basic security measures while in the country.

Despite roads being in relatively good condition, it is advisable to minimize nighttime travel (particularly in rural zones) and to drive with doors locked and windows rolled up in Maseru. Furthermore, travelers should keep all valuable objects concealed when in public and avoid public transit. It is advisable to avoid parking in isolated lots, particularly those located at scenic overlooks, where a number of tourists have become victims of theft and assault in recent years. It is also advisable to stay away from demonstrations due to the risk of violence.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Travelers should keep in mind that while tourism infrastructure (hotels, restaurants, etc.) is developing, services remain relatively limited at this time.

HEALTH

Health conditions in the country are worrying. 23 percent of the population is HIV-positive (up to 50 percent of women in urban areas). Therefore, travelers should be sure to practice safe sex while in the country; in the event of rape, seek immediate care from a South African hospital (e.g. in Bloemfontein). It is possible to call an ambulance that will come from Bloemfontein, located approximately 90 minutes from Maseru by car (150 km).

Travelers should take simple precautions to protect themselves from traveler’s diarrhea (wash hands frequently and drink only bottled or decontaminated water). Generally speaking, health facilities in the country are rudimentary. Medical services closer to Western standards are available in Bloemfontein (South Africa) or Bethlehem (South Africa; 60 km [35 mi] from Butha-Buthe). It is also advisable to take out travelers insurance covering health care and medical repatriation.

Climate

Lesotho's climate is tropical and the country experiences two seasons, a dry season that lasts from May until September and a rainy season from October until April. In the winter (July-August), temperatures fall significantly as elevations increase and snow is relatively common. In the summer, days are pleasant but nights are often cool. Floods are common during the rainy season and in the winter months.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +266 Police: 123 Fire Dept.: 122 Ambulance: 121

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

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