Packing list for Lesotho

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People preparing to come to Lesotho are, of course, interested in finding out what items and clothing they should bring. The problem in preparing such a list is that even the best suggestions are subject to variations and changes, depending on your personal interests and style. There is no perfect list! In the past, many Volunteers have regretted bringing half of what they packed. Almost everything you could want or need is available in-country, so do not load up on a lot of basic items.

Volunteers must prepare themselves for extremes in climate (up to 95 degrees Fahrenheit in summer and below freezing in winter). You may have to discard a lot of preconceived ideas of Africa, including visions of hot, steamy jungles. Sweaters and coats are a must because there is no central heating, and buildings get very cold when nighttime temperatures drop below freezing. Some buildings have fireplaces or heaters, but they typically heat only a small area. All clothes should be washable and comfortable. You will most likely do your laundry by hand in cold water, so bring clothes that can take that kind of treatment. There is a lot of wind, dust, and dirt, and clothes need to be washed frequently.

General Clothing

  • Comfortable shoes (sandals, tennis shoes), durable walking shoes (with good tread), and good-quality waterproof/Gore-Tex hiking boots
  • Sweatshirts and sweaters
  • One pair of shorts for vacations and lounging in the house (older people will frown upon you for wearing shorts in many areas of Lesotho and you won't be able to wear shorts during training)
  • Warm jacket or coat and light jacket
  • Items for cold weather, including long underwear, tights (for women), hat, gloves, scarf, fleece tops
  • Lots of underwear (harsh detergent and scrubbing are rough on underwear)
  • Rain gear, including boots*
  • Swimwear and light gym wear (there are pools and you'll have chances to jump in the ocean on vacation or the senqu while you're in Lesotho)

Rain Boots can also be purchase in Lesotho, they are a national staple.

For Men

  • At least one dressy outfit for swearing in (dress shirt, tie, and slacks)I would not pack a suit
  • Dress shoes
  • Hiking/running shoes
  • Button-down shirts and T-shirts (if you're a teacher, you will be expected to wear dress shirts virtually always, although you can get away with t-shirts at most schools)
  • Several pairs of khaki trousers and one or two pairs of jeans
  • Dark-colored socks (white ones are difficult to keep clean)
  • A pair or two of shorts.

For Women

  • At least one dressy outfit (a nice dress)
  • Dress shoes
  • Dresses and skirts for work (knee length and longer)
  • Blouses (wash-and-wear) and casual tops such as tank tops
  • Two slips
  • Two or three pairs of pants (to wear on holidays and in some work situations) Personal Hygiene and Toiletry Items
  • A three-month supply of birth control pills, if applicable
  • You may be put in the mountains and be really greatful for camping gear
  • You may also be put in a camptown and be really greatful for lots of american style clothes
  • (mix it up)

For Both Genders

  • A three-month supply of any prescription medicine you take
  • Any favorite brands of toiletry or cosmetic items (but most items are available locally)
  • Two towels and washcloths (essential during training)


  • Herbal teas and spices
  • Ground coffee (French presses are sometimes available locally, but it'd probably be a good idea to bring one, especially a backpacker's in the mug-style) Also, you can get instant coffee here easily, but not ground coffee. You can't really get good tea either so pack some.
  • A good hand-operated can opener (you won't be able to find a decent one in country)
  • Vegetable peeler (you won't be able to find a decent one in country and will peel a LOT of vegetables)
  • A good chefs knife, and even a way to sharpen it
  • Two sturdy water bottles (e.g., Sigg, Nalgene- even Platypus)

Travel coffee Mug/Thermos


  • Sleeping bag for a cold climate, preferably one that packs into a small stuff sack (some Volunteers prefer down bags because of their warmth; others advise against down, as it can be hard to keep clean and dry) . You will have a bed at your place, but bags are nice for when you visit other volunteers (and you will do a lot of that)
  • Lightweight foam sleeping pad
  • Two backpacks—a day pack and a large camping pack
  • You will be able to charge your electronics (intermittently for some, frequently for others) so bring your computer/ipod, Kindle etc, it will make your time here a lot more enjoyable (and on the bad days, bearable)
  • Battery-operated radio (FM/AM and shortwave) and/or a tape player
  • Music CDs, iPod, books, children’s songs,
  • Batteries (available in-country, but expensive and not as long lasting as those in the United States) and/or power-pack units
  • Solar battery recharger for those without electricity, though a solar set is easier to get in country
  • solar ipod etc charger (voltaic makes a good backpack, solio makes a good small charger)
  • Solar or battery-operated calculator
  • Two additional passport pictures
  • Sewing kit
  • Sunglasses and a hat for the sun
  • Swiss Army knife (very expensive in Lesotho)
  • Pictures of your home, family, and friends (Basotho LOVE pictures)
  • Credit card (American Express, Visa, or MasterCard)
  • Duct tape
  • Camera and supply of film—it is expensive here, but prints (color only) can be processed locally
  • Personal passport
  • A travel book called Lonely Planet: Africa on a Shoestring (by Kevin Anglin, Becca Blond and Jean-Bernard Carillet, Lonely Planet Publications, 2004) (this is also available in country through volunteer trading)
  • Headlamp or Flashlight (small Maglite is a good choice[headlamps are great for middle of the night latrine runs])
  • Markers, crayons, colored pencils, ink pens, mechanical pencils