Sani Pass is a must for any adventurer’s bucket list and is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular and picturesque 4×4 mountain passes in Africa.
Nestled in the Southern Drakensberg and rising to an altitude of 2874 metres, Sani Pass – the name derives from Rafolatsane, son of Paramount Chief Letsie – links KZN to the Kingdom of Lesotho.
The only road which crosses the summit of the Drakensberg, the pass attracts locals and adventurous travellers from around the world who wish to traverse the breath-taking natural landscape this precarious mountain has to offer.
The Sani Pass popular known as the “Roof of Africa” was used as a trade route between South Africa and Lesotho where goods were transported by pack mule. The odd donkey and horse can still be seen plodding up the steep route today.
While the journey takes between three and four hours to negotiate the eight kilometres of un-tarred rocky, gravel road, it offers a great punch with its unforgettable views of the Sani Pass and the mountains.
The route can be tackled by a self-drive or by a tour company available in the area. The drive begins fairly easily, but soon becomes harder as the gradient increases. Tourists are advised to have off-road driving experience before attempting to drive the route.
The best time to visit is in winter as tourists can experience chilly weather and heavy snowfalls that blanket the escarpment offering an added attraction in the form of skiing.
Locals and tourists can drink refreshing Maluti beer at the “highest pub in Africa”, and relish scrumptious meals. The Sani Mountain Lodge offers accommodation and a good place to break the journey.
There are many good quality accommodation options near Underberg which provides a convenient place to spend the night before tackling the pass such as the Premier Resort Sani Pass, Penwarm Country Lodge, Mkomazana Mountain Cottages and Amazian Mountain River Lodge.
The Sani Pass is a popular mountain-biking destination that can also be accessed with off-road motorbikes and combined with motorcycle tours of the Southern Drakensberg or Lesotho.
A vast floral variety, in a number of species and their traditional uses can be seen along the green slopes while traveling up the Sani Pass. Enjoy the impressive views of the Khomazana Valley where tourists can stop at a specific viewpoint with space for parking about halfway up the track.
Visitors crossing the Lesotho border can cosy up in a private homestead where they can taste freshly baked bread and savour traditional beer brewed by the Basotho.
The Basotho are very warm and friendly and have developed a unique culture living in villages. Many of them must tread on foot down and back up the Sani Pass to gather firewood to be used to keep warm and to prepare meals in their homesteads.
Discover the Southern Drakensberg in KZN by visiting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3h_seX_doLs