Maseru is the capital of and largest city in Lesotho and is very close to the north western border with South Africa. Although there isn't a huge deal to see in Maseru, it is well worth stopping here upon entry into Lesotho to stock up before venturing further in (where there are very, very few Western-style shops).
You can get into Maseru by car through the entry point from South Africa.
Maseru Bridge Border Post is a drop off point for most South African national coach services, from where you can catch a taxi into Maseru.
- Vaal-Maseru Bus Services, ☎ +27 18 462-1000. sometimes runs a Johannesburg to Maseru service. It's best to call them for up-to-date information.
- Local bus from Bloemfontein. At 06:00 daily a coach leaves from Bloemfontein's main bus station direct to the Maseru Bridge border in about 2 hours. If you miss this then numerous Toyota Hiaces will drop you half way, where you can pick up a second Hiace to Maseru - this option takes from 3 to 5 hours depending on how long it takes for the Hiace to fill.
Being the transport hub of Lesotho, anywhere in Lesotho that's connected by road to here will have a Minibus taxi service to Maseru. For more information on taxis, see here.
Moshoeshoe Airport is located 18 km from Maseru. South African Airways operates a couple of daily flights from Maseru to Johannesburg, which typically cost around LSL2,200. Luggage is lost very regularly and there is no lost luggage reporting system. You should arrange taxi pick-up in advance as there are no taxis at the airport. Taxis charge around LSL100.
Mission Aviation flies from the smaller Moeshoeshoe I airport just off Airport Road, 2 km from central Maseru. They offer charter flights to amongst other places, Mokhotlong, Thaba-Tseka and Katse and are contactable on +266 2232 5699. Flights are fairly expensive, their little planes can be cramped, but they fly to most airstrips in Lesotho.
The bus stop on Moeshoeshoe Rd is the main taxi station,but private cabs are available from the price of LSL20.
For information on catching taxis in Lesotho and Maseru, call Comfort Taxis and speak to Khosana on +266 6274 5199.
For information on catching taxis in Lesotho,Moonlight taxis are on +266 22312695
There is not a huge deal to see in Maseru, as the city is essentially a base for expeditions and travels deeper into Lesotho.
- The Mokorotlo. One of the country's most monumental buildings, the Mokorotlo is the traditional hut built in a modern sophisticated style, it is a virtual museum where you can learn more about the cultures and tradition of the friendly Basotho nation.
- Thetsane is worth having a wander around on a weekday - two kilometres south of Maseru on Pioneer Road (past the Pope's Podium) are a cluster of factories that churn out t-shirts and jeans for numerous US chain stores, including Kmart, Children's Place and Gap (if you've ever bought an Old Navy top chances are it was stitched together here). The chaotic hustle and bustle of Thetsane contrasts sharply with the slow pace of life elsewhere in Lesotho, and it's a fascinating place to see what African industrialisation looks like.
- The Lehakoe Club and Gym, Moshoeshoe Road (next to the Central Bank, near the Houses of Parliament) Excellent gym by any standards, with 2 swimming pools, tennis & squash courts, steam rooms and sauna. M215 per month membership, also daily and weekly membership available.
- Lesotho National Tennis Courts Kingsway bypass, functional and cheap tennis courts, tuition available.
- Maseru Golf Course, play a round with some alcoholic expats.
- Moeshoeshoe Day is celebrated in Maseru in early March with colourful processions through the city centre.
- Go canoeing on the Caledon river. The Lesotho-Durham Link offer canoeing trips (phone in advance to see what they can offer, +266 223 25166). Around LSL200 for an afternoon.
- Join the Hash The Maseru Hash House Harriers are a good way of meeting expats, getting some exercise, and seeing some more off-the-beaten-path parts of Maseru. They're quite tame, with the traditional drinking games kept to a minimum.
- Hike up the Hill behind the Lesotho Sun. Behind the hotel is a rocky hill (where they are now building the new Chinese funded parliament building - Lesotho supports the One China policy). Should take about 30 minutes to climb but is well worth the effort - go before sunset and take your camera!
- Trips from Maseru. If you are living and working in Maseru there are numerous options for day trips and weekend getaways. This is a few years old now but have a look here.
Supermarkets and food
- Pick'n'Pay, Pioneer Shopping Centre, Pioneer Road - Very well-stocked South African supermarket and liquor store.
- OK Shoprite, Kingsway (LNDC Centre, behind the Vodacom shop) - Good stocking up place before you head to the mountains
- OK Shoprite, Moeshoeshoe Rd - again a good stock up place.
- Fruit & Veg City, Kingsway (Cathedral end) better fruit and veg than shoprite, also has a very random 'Italian deli' section selling very expensive pasta and Italian wine.
- Bensons Quality Fresh Meats, Main North road - very good (South African run) butchers. Original owners have sold this business to run Pick'n'Pay. They deliver too. +266 22321479
- Basotho Hat, Kingsway - a government run craft store which stocks locally made crafts. Large variety of beautiful hand-made jewelry of copper and ceramics, dresses, wire push toys. Worth poking your head in just to enjoy the unusual architecture.
- Chinese tailors, Kingsway, opposite Fruit & Veg - good tailors who can duplicate a suit for LSL1,000-ish (they take the measurements from an existing suit rather than measure you)
- Lesotho Cellphone Services, 10 Lioli Rd. Industrial Area - a cheaper place to purchase white goods and electrical items than the furniture shops along Kingsway
- For electronics On Kingsways, also just opposite Fruit & Veg there is a large and surprisingly well-furnished shop selling computers and accessories, mobile phones and accessories, cables, etc., at decent prices.
- White Box Food, not a restaurant, but a good budget eating option - on Kingsway at lunchtime lots of food vendors are cooking up chicken, pork, rice and papa and serving it to the office workers in town for around LSL12-15 a box - very tasty and very filling
- M'editerranea Pizza, (just off Pioneer Rd, near OK supermarket) - good fresh pizza, by far the best coffee in town, great atmospheric music.
- Mimmo's Italian Deli, United Nations Rd - nice decor, variable food, including very garlicy pizzas and pasta dishes. Service is pretty bad but this is Lesotho.
- Nando's, Moeshoeshoe Rd - good chicken, Portuguese style
- KFC, Kingsway - chicken
- New Asia, Kingsway (behind Victoria Hotel) - good Chinese restaurant - access from the carpark behind Victoria Hotel
- Peace Restaurant, Moeshoeshoe Rd (just down from Nando's) - at the back of a Chinese grocery shop the Peace Restaurant offers an authentic Chinese eating experience - good food, plastic chairs, Chinese karaoke on Friday and Saturday nights! You can almost believe you are in China
- Good Times Cafe, LNDC Centre, Kingsway (above the Vodacom shop) - the only nightspot in Maseru also serves up adequate South African fare - OK for lunch if you have 1,5 hours or more. Tends to be empty in the evenings except for a few expats. Big screen for live football.
- Solomon's Ground, below the post office at the corner of Constitution Road, this restaurant offers decent Italian food and on Thursdays offers an Ethiopian buffet.
- Lancer's Inn, Kingsway - good food but slow service.
- Lesotho Sun, Nightingale Rd - a Chinese restaurant, and a grill restaurant, both quite average for the price (expensive) but if you are after a nice steak then it's more convenient than a trip to Ladybrand. There's a gluttonous all you can eat buffet on Sundays at lunchtime with loads of food. Doors open at 12.30 but it soon packs out as post-church middle-class Basotho families stuff themselves. Get there early if you want to get your nose in the trough! LSL120 per person.
- Maseru Sun Cabanas, runs the same Sunday lunch buffet food-fest as the Lesotho Sun, but at last one traveller reported that Cabanas "buffet" grill was much better than at the Lesotho Sun, even though they are both part of the Sun International Group, and had a much wider choice. That said, a tip is that the butter pudding on the desert table is great, in an old-fashioned home style.
- Regal Restaurant, Kingsway (part of the Basotho Hat complex) - the only non-hotel, non-Chinese restaurant that offers a pleasant dining experience - good (British-style) Indian food, appealing interior. Expensive, though, and though some call the service good, others say it's average at best.
- Ocean Basket, South African chain serving seafood and sushi.
- Good Times Cafe LNDC Centre, Kingsway (above the Vodacom shop) - the only non-hotel bar in Maseru likely to appeal to the tourist - can be very lively at weekends especially after pay-day (at end of the month) with live music and many of Lesotho's young and rich in attendance - but can be quiet on week nights.
- Lesotho Sun - Pool bar - Great for sundowners. Buy-1-get-1-free on Fridays 5PM-7PM (very popular)
- UN Club - the opening times are a little unpredictable, but worth a try for the more adventurous - its next to the Sparrows bar / gas station behind Lancers Inn (GPS / Google Earth coordinates 29°18'57.63"S 27°28'48.57"E)
- Local bar in the suburbs - want to get off the tourist trail and see some suburban Maseru life? try this bar - safe and friendly (and cheap), with a pleasant beer garden out back used for hosting the occasional wedding reception. About 2 km southeast of the cathedral traffic circle, just off main south (GPS / Google Earth coordinates 29°19'40.17"S 27°30'24.83"E)
|This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:|
|Mid-range||LSL200 to LSL800|
Many backpacker types pass through Maseru en route to Semonkong Lodge or Malealea in the mountains, or head to Ladybrand in South Africa. However do not discount Maseru as a budget overnight destination - there are affordable accommodation options, the best of which is probably the Lesotho-Durham link.
- Lesotho - Durham Link, off the Agric / Old Airport Road, on the northern edge of the lake, ☎ +266 2232 5166. 3 km from the centre of Maseru you'd need to get a taxi or a combi down the old airport road, ask to go to the Agric College as your driver may not have heard of the place. Camping is also possible at LSL35 per night - only recommended for the summer months (October through May). LSL100 per person (dormitory).
The following budget accommodations were built as training centres although they do cater for travellers if you ask in advance!
- Anglican Training Centre, Corner Assisi Rd and Lancers Rd, ☎ +266 2232 2046. Basic amenities, LSL 120.
- Maseru Backpackers, near the air squadron and air field (slightly out of town but pleasant), ☎ +266 2232 5166. Hot water and kitchens. LSL 150 per person per night.
- Lesotho Work Camps Association, Kingsway (behind the Catholic cathedral on the roundabout at the top of Kingsway). Hot water and a small kitchen, although not so clean as the Anglican Training Centre. LSL 120 per person per night.
- Mohokare Guest House, 260 Kofi Annan, New Europa, ☎ +266 2231 4442, fax: +266 2231 4445, e-mail: email@example.com. Tranquil modern,comfortable and safe accommodation, 3km from the city centre. Its a great place to stay without being expensive. Quote 'Kavi' when booking Single- LSL400, Double-LSL550.
- Boikhutsong Bed & Breakfast, 623 Tjobolo, Hillsview, ☎ +266 63059190. A 6 bedroom guesthouse in the Hillsview suburb - get a taxi or its a 30 min walk.
- Foothills Guest House, 121 Maluti Road, Maseru West., ☎ +266 58706566, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. A short walk from town in the leafy Maseru West suburb (where the King and most of the Government live). A good alternative to the pricey hotels in town. Double from LSL450.00, single from LSL295.00.
- Lakeside Hotel, ☎ 22313646. Not a good choice for the tourist as the hotel is miles out of town on Main North Double room from LSL274, Single from LSL183.
- Mpilo Lodge, Maluti Road, Maseru West, ☎ 22317800, e-mail: email@example.com. Doubles from LSL500, singles from LSL350.
- Victoria Hotel, Kingsway, ☎ 22313687. Often the business traveller's last resort when the other hotels are full. Adequate at best. Next to the red light area and the cinema. Double room from LSL600, Single from LSL540.
- Lancer's Inn, Kingsway, ☎ 22312114, fax: 22310223, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Right in the centre of Maseru, just off Kingsway, this is a nice colonial style hotel, reasonable rooms, and also self-catered rondavels available. Lancer's tends to be used by business travellers, although King Letsie occasionally dines in the restaurant. Double rooms from LSL845, singles from LSL745.
- Lesotho Sun (20min uphill walk from the centre.), ☎ 22313111. Perched up high on a hill overlooking the city. Not one of the Sun hotel chain's flagship hotels but it is the most 'luxurious' hotel in the city, with a very nice swimming pool. As Lesotho's classiest hotel it hosts endless government workshops and is where foreign dignitaries stay when visiting for regional conferences. Refurbishment has been on the drawing board for ages but is always set to commence 'next year'. There is a casino on site, gym, small cinema and business facilities. Double rooms from M862, singles from LSL762..
- Maseru Sun Cabanas, Old Europa, ☎ 22312434. Much the same as the Lesotho Sun but has a larger pool. No need to go anywhere to get food because there is a restaurant by the pool site that serves delicious food[both western and traditional food] Double rooms from LSL862, singles from LSL762.00.
- Queen Proteas, New Parliament Dr (At the east end of the Kingsway bypass, near the turn off for the new Parliament building), ☎ +266-22315215, 58079472. Opened in late 2009. Luxury hotel a little way out-of-town hence this is a better option if you have a car. All rooms are en suite and have Wi-Fi access. Double rooms from LSL450.
In Maseru, there are several internet cafes, although fairly cheap (usually LSL0.20-0.50 per min) they are pretty slow at best. The main internet cafés are:
- 999 Internet, Kingsway (opposite the Post Office). The best value in Maseru
- Leo Internet, (near the Basotho Hat)
- The Lesotho Sun, very expensive.
Cellphones are available for hire from various shops in Maseru. If visiting Lesotho (or anywhere in Southern Africa) then bring an unlocked cellphone with you and buy pay-as-you-go SIM cards in each country you stay - a good way of staying connected. Most towns in Lesotho have cellphone coverage.
There is a large Post Office on Kingsway. Post is unreliable and can take up to a month to reach its destination, but usually more likely to take a fortnight. Sending a letter by airmail will cost you approx LSL2.40.
Embassies and Consulates
- United States, 254 Kingsway Ave, ☎ +266 2231-2666 ext 4124, e-mail: USConsularMaseru@state.gov. Tu 08:00-12:00, 14:00-16:00, F 08:00-12:00.
- Leribe - town in the north of the Country
- Semonkong - pony trekking in the Highlands and to the impressive falls
- Malealea - pony trekking in the Highlands from the large lodge
- Thaba Bosiu - historic mountain fortress of the Masotho
In South Africa:
- Ladybrand - the closest town across the border. A nice place to escape to if you are living in Lesotho and are craving Western-ness!
- Bloemfontein - the nearest cinema (again, will only be useful to know this if you are living in Lesotho!)