The Spectacular Sani Pass Drive
Sani Pass becomes busier than Durban’s city morning traffic when it snows on the Drakensberg or in Lesotho.
Sani Pass has to be one of the most spectacular routes to experience on the way to Lesotho. This pass connects South Africa with the eastern Lesotho town of Mokhotlong and is one of the have-to-do 4×4 drives in South Africa.
The conditions on the pass vary greatly, depending on when it was last graded and the weather conditions. It’s also best to keep in mind that during heavy snow and severe cold, the pass may be closed.
“…the views back down over the pass and into South Africa are nothing short of magnificent!”
Sani Pass is just under 10km in length and starts once you have cleared the South African border post. Before heading off, stop your vehicle for a minute to prepare for what lies ahead, by engaging low range.
The pass starts off gently and easy, on a nice wide road. Once you’re almost halfway into the climb, you’ll see a waterfall on the left with plenty of space for a convoy to stop for a break. This is the last place to stop and stretch your legs until the Lesotho border post at the top.
Once you are back on the road, the track will begin to narrow and a series of switchbacks and dramatic drop-offs begin. Shortly after one of the left-hand switchbacks, you’ll see a beautiful waterfall on the left-hand-side, which if weather permitting may be frozen. Unfortunately, the track is far too narrow for you to be able to stop and observe the waterfall.
As the gradient of the trail increases somewhat, your 4×4 will have to work a little harder to make it to the top, which sits at an impressive 2,874m. At this point you’ll need to clear the Lesotho border post, so make sure your passport and vehicle registration papers are handy.
Once you have paid your R40 and have cleared the border post, you stand at the top of the pass. This is a great opportunity to pose for a pic at the famous sign before you start heading towards the Sani Mountain Lodge. Accommodation is available here, meals are served around a fireplace and this is home to what they claim to be the highest pub in Africa. You should definitely take a little stroll around the lodge, as the views back down over the pass and into South Africa are nothing short of magnificent!
For those who would like to travel further into Lesotho, it’s a great idea to carry emergency rations, a gas stove, space blankets and sleeping bags and that’s even if you’re not intending to spend a night. The conditions change so quickly and a familiar cup of soup or sleeping bag will help keep you cheered up.
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