Lesotho border crossings were among the easiest and fastest I’ve ever encountered! I drove a rental car, but you can also use public transportation. Check for updates from your lodging or the last town before doing any Lesotho border crossings, as they will have the most current information. The Lesotho Embassy website has visa information based on your citizenship, including cost and length of time you can remain in the country. Also, ensure your South Africa visa is in order if crossing overland, since Lesotho is a tiny country entirely surrounded by South Africa.
Unofficial Lesotho border crossings information with times and costs. The toll for bringing into Lesotho my 4-door rental car was a few dollars, payable in South African currency (ZAR).
Unofficial list of Lesotho’s Visa Requirements For All Countries.
USA citizens receive a passport stamp upon arrival. As a reminder, the visa for USA citizens to enter South Africa is received upon arrival at zero cost. And, here’s my favorite website for figuring out Visa Rules around the world. However, in the end, you should always check with the embassy of the country(ies) you’ll be entering for the rules they have for your citizenship.
Bringing the rental car into Lesotho was easy. I advised the rental car agency of which countries I would be entering, and there was no additional cost for Lesotho by the rental car agency. Lesotho charged a several dollar fee for bringing the car across the border and signs are posted with costs.
Lesotho has its own currency equal (1:1) to South African Rand (ZAR). Therefore, I never changed money in the country. Hotels and roadside food stands accepted either currency, but returned change in Lesotho currency, unless I requested ZAR.
Sani Pass Border
4x4 vehicle required due to a steep, unpaved road. Also, possible to cross by public transportation. However, don’t miss the Sani Pass Tour, if you are in the area! I’ve written a blog post on this really fun tour. This is a high elevation border crossing and it snowed on us in the afternoon! It is also in a landscape called Drakensberg, and this area itself is a UNESCO site. This area is a major watershed, and you must always come prepared for any weather– sunshine, rain, or snow.
Road: Paved on the Lesotho side and gravel on the South Africa side and in no-man’s land (the extremely steep uphill between the 2 border posts). In March the road was actually fine, and I think my car would have made it. However, I read that it is impassable except in 4x4 during part of the year, so the border is restricted to 4x4 vehicles the entire year.
Time: The border crossing bureaucratic process is quick and easy. However, no-man’s land is long! It’s a steep uphill from South Africa exit to Lesotho entry at the top of the mountain. Public transportation runs the route and probably takes about 30 minutes. Since I was on full-day tour, and we stopped for photographing the landscape, plants, and animals, it took much longer.
Qacha’s Nek Border
I entered Lesotho here in my little rental car, because a 4x4 is required to enter via Sani Pass Lesotho border crossing. No problems at all. Easiest border I have ever crossed! The woman stamping my passport was curious where I had come from and we chatted. Usually border personnel are so strict and busy, but not here.
Road: The only unpaved section was about 30 kilometers on the South African side of the border, but no problem for my little Volkswagen Golf.
Time: 30 seconds at the South Africa exit and 1 minute at the Lesotho entry (because the guy in the payment booth gave me the wrong change, and he had to give me a little more).
Maseru is the capital city of Lesotho and I exited the country here. The Maseru, Lesotho border crossing was far busier than the others, as it is the capital city. Driving through Maseru to the border crossing I encountered heavy traffic. I saw more cars in Maseru than I had throughout the entire rest of my week in the Lesotho countryside.
Road: Paved everywhere.
Time: Plan for extra time at the Maseru border, as it is crowded. And, I was told that I should avoid crossing into South Africa on FRIDAY’s. People receive their paychecks on Fridays, and then cross into South Africa for shopping, as do commuters who work in Lesotho during the week and return home to South Africa for the weekends. I found the passport check line was short and quick on a non-Friday. However, within just a few minutes, there was a big line behind me. I then drove a short distance and paid a small amount to re-enter South Africa. The border crossing progress took about 10 minutes, but traffic in Maseru on my way to the border was slow.
Summary of Lesotho Border Crossings
I crossed the 3 borders overland, driving a rental car. I was alone and all the men and women, whether officials or other travelers communicated with me in English easily and were surprisingly friendly. All fee costs are posted, but count your change. I was short-changed once only by a few dollars. However, it confused me, since the currency was new to me.
Here is a summary of my 5-week solo Lesotho and South Africa roadtrip. I saw so many animals and had no problems at all. A very easy journey around 2 countries. Many people speak English and I only got to drive on the left-hand side of the road!