Malealea Lodge & Pony Trek Centre
web: www.malealea.com www.malealea.co.ls
Tips for a good road trip
|Tips for a good road trip|
|Getting to Lesotho by car|
Good planning is vital for a fun, hassle-free trip around Lesotho. Here are some tips that will help you prepare.
Getting to the remotest area of Lesotho is not only possible, but is usually uncomplicated. Lesotho has a fast-growing network of tarred roads and high-quality dirt roads and feeder routes. If you're driving, it's recommended that you seek local advice regarding how long a journey may take and if you'll need four-wheel drive. A good road map is essential.
As in South Africa, you drive on the left side of the road. The major highways are two-lane class 6 roads. The general speed limit on national highways is 100km/hr, secondary roads 80km/hr and in urban built up areas 65 km/hr (but is rarely enforced). Driving in Lesotho is quite an experience, and probably the best way to see the country. However, be cautious of pedestrians, cyclists and livestock on all roads. There are well-tarred roads between all major towns. Please remember that the journey is often the goal rather than the destination. Getting anywhere in Lesotho can be slow due to traffic, animals and the undulating countryside. Patience is an African virtue.
Car hire companies are based in Maseru. You will need to produce a recognized international driver's licence to hire a car.
Insurance & vehicle papers
PTA insurance must be purchased either before leaving or at the border. Travel insurance and medical insurance should be taken out before leaving home. Have all your vehicle papers on hand for roadblocks. While driving in Lesotho the following documentation is required at all times:
- Vehicle registration book
- Vehicle certificate of insurance (Heavy fines are imposed for driving an uninsured vehicle)
- International or Domestic drivers licence
- Commercial vehicles not registered in Lesotho require a permit to operate in Lesotho.
If you are renting a car, check the insurance conditions reference motoring in Lesotho and dirt roads. Remember, if you are anywhere other than in the Lowlands help with any mechanical problems is a long way away.
Petrol supplies in the remoter eastern areas are scarce, check before departure that you'll be able to reach the next supply point. Both diesel and petrol are available in all towns and intermittently in small villages. Always take extra jerry cans of fuel if driving to the more remote regions. Unleaded fuel is only available in Maseru.
Supplies for you and your car
Most food supplies and second hand spares can be obtained in Lesotho. Medical supplies however are not readily found outside the major cities. In winter, overnight temperatures often drop below zero - make sure you have anti freeze in your radiator.
Be equipped with warm clothes, bedding and plenty of food and water. Carry a range of tools and essential spares with you. Two spare wheels and a couple of spare tubes are a must due to the condition of the roads. Spare jerry cans of fuel and water, a towrope, compressor, winch and a spotlight are useful items to have. Many of the villages along the main routes offer tyre-mending services at a very reasonable fee.
Be fully equipped for spending the night with no facilities at all except perhaps a nearby river. Have a bucket for washing pots and clothes, all cooking gear and all the food you need for the whole journey apart from fresh vegetables. Meat is not always available in the remoter areas so bring substitutes. Most villages will sell onions, tomatoes, potatoes, bread, sugar, fruit, salt and oil. You can buy just about anything you need for your journey in Maseru, but tinned food is pricey. Always have at least twenty litres of drinking water in the vehicle at all times as well as spare jerry cans of petrol. It is best to boil all water before drinking it.
Accommodation and camping
Lesotho has a wide range of standards when it comes to places to stay - from five star hotels and luxury lodges comparable to any in Africa, to cheaper guesthouses and campsites.
Even though camping facilities are marginal, if you’re well prepared you can find some of the best, unexplored and remote places in the country and very often have them all to yourselves.
Be very careful in towns and villages not to leave your vehicle open and unattended. People with little are easily tempted. You should have no problem sleeping outdoors in designated camping areas or remote places along the way, but get into the habit of locking things away before you go to sleep.
As far as personal safety is concerned, one could easily travel or even hitchhike alone throughout the country without a problem. Theft however is rife in the bigger towns and cities. Don’t walk around with things you can’t do without, like your passport or airline tickets. Carry minimum amounts of cash and keep it hidden or in a money belt and if possible, don’t leave your car unattended. This is less of a problem in the rural areas.
Lesotho is warm in summer and can get very cold in winter. Lightweight, preferably cotton, casual clothes can be worn in summer, with a jacket or jersey for early winter mornings and evenings.
Budget travellers should consider drip-drying clothing and be prepared for hand washing. In most places one can hire someone to do your washing.
Tap water in the major towns is purified and perfectly safe to drink. In the more remote areas always boil it first, except if you’re staying at a lodge or hotel where drinking water is boiled already. Bottled water is readily available in the bigger towns.
Lesotho is an extremely photogenic country. Rich colour and good low lighting conditions abound. It is considered rude to take pictures of people without asking them first. A 200mm (or longer) telephoto lens will prove very useful.