One of the most memorable things to do in the Southern Drakensberg is let yourself be taken for a ride - up one of the most spectacular mountain passes on our part of the continent Sani Pass climbs to an altitude of 2 874 m and is the only road link between KwaZuluNatal and the rugged kingdom of Lesotho.
It's a dramatic 4x4 trip, climbing some 1 330 metres in six and a half kms', and the road snakes upwards beneath towering' cliffs, past tumbling waterfalls, colourful plants,unique birdlife - and the occasional wreck! Among the final zigzags is a waterfall that doesn't see any sun during winter, and stays frozen from May to September.Among the final zigzags is a waterfall that doesn't see any sun during winter, and stays frozen from May to September.Winter is a thrilling time to tackle Sani if you can handle the cold. This part of the Berg is the best for accessible snow.Named after the San people who once lived in the area 1 the route developed over the centuries as a path for game migration 1 then a bridle path following the Mkomazana River.
The Pass felt the wheels of a Jeep for the first time in 1948 when an intrepid ex-R.A.F pilot Godfrey Edmonds took over 12 hours to get to the top. A regular transport service began in 1955, and for visitors who don't wish to drive themselves up the Pass, day trips ar~ available with several tour operators. An overnight stay at the top in a rustic chalet, is also possible.The drive up takes about two hours, including photo-stops and passport checks at the South African border post.To get to the top of Sani, you must have your passport or South African l.D. documents when travelling on a day tour with a recognised tour operator:you won't be allowed into Lesotho without it. Between the two border posts the climb continues around hairpin bends for 8 kms, and the road feels like a rocky riverbed. But the bumps are worth it: you'll feel on top of the world when you summit.
Close to the Lesotho border post is the Sani Top Chalet. Built in 1958, it sleeps 30 people in simple, rustic accommodation, including 10 backpacker-style dormitory bunks. It's also the highest licensed pub in Africa, and the size of the tots are most welcome. A 15 minute drive from the Chalet brings you to Black Mountain Pass which, with enough snow, is an excellent ski run against the backdrop of Thabana Ntlenyana: at 3 483 m, it's the highest peak south of Kilimanjaro.
There is also a small Basotho settlement near the Chalet that has its own "highest pub in Africa", where you can share some amahewu with the locals.For birders too, the trip up Sani can be rewarding. Species to be seen include the Cape Bunting, Thickbilled Lark and a wide variety of the raptors including the Lammergeyer, or Bearded Vulture, and the Black and Martial eagles. This is a glorious and unforgettable experience whether you go for the frozen waterfall and the ski runs, or the summer flowers and mountain hikes. It's a Pass for all seasons.
The first 4x4 tnp up the Pass took 12 hours
CONTACT SANI PASS TOURS for your booking. Day trips daily departures from UNDERBERG daily at 09h.30 return 15h.30 - 16h30 tel 033 7011064
Only valid SA PASSPORTS are acceptable to access SANI PASS.