Added by Bryan Young
Take the scenic route to Africa’s highest pub by driving, or hiking, up 4,370 ft (1,332 m) via Sani Pass where along the way you will view epic waterfalls and mountains vistas.
Sani Pass is the highest mountain pass in South Africa, connecting the town of Underberg in KZN to Mokhotlong in Lesotho. It is strictly a 4x4 vehicle drive and takes visitors from a starting elevation of 5,065 ft (1,544 m) at the South African border post all the way up the winding road to 9,435 ft (2,876 m) at the top and the Lesotho border post.
Just to be clear, if you arrive from South Africa you will start your journey by heading up Sani Pass. If you are already in Lesotho you will arrive at the top of the pass and drive down it.
The pass winds 13 miles (21 km) through the Mkhomazi Wilderness area and passes numerous waterfalls and scenic viewpoints. The road has an average gradient of 1:20, but near the top it gets as steep as 1:4, so don’t be fooled by the tame nature of the bottom portion of the drive. The weather is extremely variable and the best time to drive it is in the morning so when you arrive at the top you will have clear skies and great views on the road you just drove. Clouds tend to roll in in the afternoon and engulf the lodge.
At the top enjoy a beer at Africa’s Highest Pub at the Sani Pass Mountain Lodge. There is a beautiful deck where you can take in the views and watch other vehicles make their way up the pass.
If you’re looking to add an additional excursion to your trip you can also take a hike up Lesotho’s highest mountain and the highest peak south of Mount Kilimanjaro – Thabana Ntlenyana – 11,423 ft (3,482 m).
The trek from the Sani Pass Mountain Lodge takes an estimated 8 hours, but you can continue to drive on the tar road until you reach the highest point, 10,629 ft (3,240 m), where you will see a hiking sign for the mountain. There is a dirt lot that you can park at and then head toward the mountain without a guide. This is the best option if you’re short on time. However, the high peak is not very distinguishable among the other peaks in the area, so look for some pictures before setting out so you head to the top of the correct one! (It lies to the left of the double peaks if you are hiking from the road.)
This parking area also happens to be a perfect place to enjoy a beautiful Lesotho mountain sunset!
Passport Control Note:
From South Africa you must first check in with South Africa border patrol before driving up Sani Pass. Once you make your way up the pass you must stop again at the top to check in with the Lesotho border post as well. It’s important to note you will receive 2 stamps (one out of South Africa and one entering Lesotho.) Upon returning down the pass you must repeat this process.
- Rain jacket/fleece for the cold mountain air
- 2 L water
- Road snacks
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Camping, Chillin, Hiking, Photography
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