Learn more about the Roof’s history and find out the facts…
The Roof of Africa had its humble beginnings in 1967 when Bob Phillips, a Roads Engineer working in Lesotho, approached the Sports Car Club in Johannesburg and asked them if they would like to run a race over the worst road in the world that he had just finished building. The Roof of Africa was born!
The Roof of Africa quickly gained in popularity and it had become sponsored by The Star newspaper further promoting what was fast becoming a legend. In 1969 motorcycles starting competing against the cars and the event was soon split into two categories.
The event continued to grow through the 70’s 80’s and 90’s and the legend continued to grow. Up until 1982 the event ran right across Lesotho with overnight stops in either Matatiele or Sani Pass. From 1982 the event has been contained within the borders of Lesotho. The Roof of Africa was also attracting overseas interest and regular participation from overseas competitors
By the year 2000 Off Road car racing had become a highly specialised sport with big Manufacturer involvement. Single vehicles were now costing multi million Maloti and the Roof became “too tough” for them and the controlling federation under pressure from manufacturers decided to drop cars from the calendar. This was opposed by 90 percent of the car competitors but were overruled by the manufacturers who had taken subtle control of the sport, the cars did return for three more events from 2004 to 2006 and were run as two day events. However this signaled a rebirth for the Roof of Africa with record motorcycle entries being received worldwide, Hard Enduro or Extreme Enduro has become increasingly popular and the Roof became known as the mother of hard enduro. However in 2019 the cars are back! and will race together with other category’s of competitors who wish to experience the adventure racing in Lesotho has to offer
ROOF OF AFRICA FACT & FIGURES
The Roof has been run every year since 1967, except 1998 due to the riots in Lesotho.
2019 will see the 52th staging of this event.
The Roof is a non political event that has enjoyed great relationships with all the ruling parties and Military over the years.
The event is inscribed on the FIM International Calendar and attracts competitors from up to 20 different countries.
The Roof is at the forefront of technology.
The Roof attracts nearly 400 competitors.
The Roof is contested by the top competitors in the world as well as all the top competitors from the sub-continent.
The Roof is now considered as a “bucket list event” in the same way that people do the Comrades Marathon, Two Oceans, Cape Epic etc.
The Roof has an enviable safety record. Medical Support is of the highest available standards and world class hospital facilities are close by.
The event is attended by many Lesotho dignitaries.
The prize fund equivalent or better than the other Extreme events worldwide.
The Roof is a highly visible sport reaching not only the town, but a lot of people in rural areas as well.
It injects an estimated M100 million into Lesotho economy during Roof of Africa week.
Organisation supports local businesses and communities.
The Roof has boosted the Tourism Industry in Lesotho probably more than any other medium.
The Roof enjoys good relations with its sponsors.
The Roof’s Social Responsibility Initiatives include.
Support for “Riders for Health” Project
Various Community Initiatives
Employs community members
Employs a full time liaison officer to interact with communities along the routes to minimise inconvenience, crop damage and environmental issues.
Some useful information about Lesotho
Getting in and out of Lesotho
Lesotho has a number of Border control crossings but as the event is in the vicinity of Maseru there are only 4 options that really matter for travellers to the event:
Maseru Bridge – this is open 24/7 but it is the busiest crossing point and you could get significant delays
Ficksburg/Maputsoe Bridge – this is also open 24/7 and is the second busiest crossing point. It’s about 80 km north of Maseru but the road between the two is tarmac.
Peka Bridge – this is not a busy crossing. It’s about 60 km north of Maseru and is only open between 08:00 and 16:00 hrs. Most of the road to Maseru is tarmac but there is also 6 to 8 km of gravel near to the Border crossing.
Van Rooyens Nek – 90 km South of Maseru, generally not very busy and recommended for people travelling from P.E. East London.
Comms and Sim cards
There are 2 main network providers in Lesotho, Econet and Vodacom and there seems to be many outlets for getting a sim card and airtime.
Driving Laws in Lesotho
The following info came from a Lesotho vehicle hire company’s website:
Seat belt laws in Lesotho insist that everyone in a moving vehicle is wearing one. You will be fined if you don’t.
Drinking and Driving
The drink driving laws in Lesotho are the same as in the UK. You must have no more than 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood and there are regular police patrols throughout the year to catch motorists who break the law.
Must Have Documents
There’s quite a range of documentation required:
Original vehicle registration document.
Owner’s written authority if not the driver.
Authority from the finance company if the car is secured against a debt.
The speed limits for Lesotho are as follows:
Minimum Driving Age
You have to be at least 18 to be able to drive in Lesotho. If you’re renting a car the minimum age is 21. If you’re less than 25 years’ old you’re likely to have to pay a premium for your lack of experience and age.
Safety Camera Warning Devices
Detectors for safety cameras are not illegal in Lesotho but we recommend that given the state of the roads you stick to the speed limits.
On the Spot Fines
If you are stopped by the police, do not be tempted to offer to pay a bribe. You’ll find that sometimes you are asked to pay cash when stopped. If you can safely refuse, do so as it prolongs the campaign to stamp out corruption. You should be given a ticket detailing the offence and how to pay the fine indicated.
Child Safety Rules
In Lesotho, there are no specific laws for the protection of children so it is up to you to ensure they are kept safe.
Animal Safety Rules
Drivers need to be alert to the safety of animals on the roads as Lesotho take animal welfare very seriously.
Behaviour of drivers towards pedestrians
Drivers need to be especially alert to the presence of pedestrian crossings on all types of road and should stop and not obstruct a pedestrian who has stepped onto such a crossing.
Drivers should stop and not obstruct a pedestrian who is boarding or alighting from a public motor vehicle.
Drivers should not cut across or obstruct columns or processions of people, such as lines of school children, who are accompanied by a person in charge.
Rules of the Road
Standard international driving laws apply with one or two exceptions:
In Lesotho you’ll drive on the left.
Many roads are compacted dirt which are fine in the dry season but will require a 4 x 4 in the rainy season.
Watch out for people stepping out into the road without looking.
There are no specific regulations for towing but make sure you can see clearly and that the vehicle is securely attached. Make sure your trailer licence is up to date as this normally checked exiting the border.
There are no fixed speed cameras in Lesotho and mobile speed traps are rare, usually only used after a speed related accident in that area. People generally drive sensibly and in accordance with road conditions although there are plenty that take advantage of the lax police control on speed!
Using Mobile Phones when driving
Whilst many drivers can be seen on their phones whilst travelling around, it is illegal to do so without a hands free kit.
Thefts from cars is prevalent in Lesotho so you should try to park somewhere visible and at night, well lit. If possible, use attended parking lots.
You’ll find plenty of free parking but Lesotho is a country where it’s sensible to pay the small parking fees and know that your car and you will be safe. There are attended garages and lots in the main cities, elsewhere just use common sense and park as close as you can to your destination.
Enforcement of parking is rarely done and so you are unlikely to get a ticket for parking except if you seriously overstay your time in a parking garage.
There is little in the way of concessions for disabled drivers but most people are friendly and helpful and will try to find you a more convenient place to park.
Motor Way Signs
The motorways in Lesotho are called highways and are long distance routes across the country, the main one being the A3. Motorway signs are green with white writing.
Lesotho speaks two official languages; Sesotho and English. All signs are in English and everyone speaks the language too!
You won’t find many traffic lights in Lesotho and they’ll be in the main cities. The ones you do encounter follow the internationally recognised sequences and so there should be no confusion.
There are several toll roads in Lesotho, all of them being the main fast highways. Tolls are not expensive but they allow you to use faster and safer stretches of road.
The emergency number in Lesotho is 123 for the police, 122 for the fire service and 121 for the ambulance.
What to do in an emergency
If travelling away from the main roads in Lesotho you should ensure you have a means of communication, plenty of water and spare fuel. If you break down, rescue can be some time away. You should ensure that you have contact numbers of a rescue organisation with you or use the number given to you by your hire car agent in Lesotho.
In the event of an accident you will often find that if there is simply damage to the vehicles, the matter will be sorted out in cash on the spot. If someone has been injured or the damage is severe then you’ll need to exchange insurance details and call the police and medical services as appropriate. If possible, don’t move the vehicles but if they have to be moved for safety reasons, take a photograph of the scene.
As of March 2019, the average price of 95 octane unleaded petrol in Lesotho is around R10 per litre, whilst diesel is slightly more expensive. Prices can vary between the towns and the smaller villages.