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Sani Pass


Sani Pass is a road that connects Lesotho with Kwazulu Natal. It is a notoriously dangerous road, which requires the use of a 4x4 vehicle and above average driving experience. It has occasional remains of vehicles that did not succeed in navigating its steep gradients and poor traction surfaces, and has a catalogue of frightening stories of failed attempts at ascending the path over the Northern Lesotho mountains.

While South African immigration at the bottom of pass prohibits vehicles deemed unsuitable for the journey, the Lesotho border agents at the top generally allow vehicles of all types to attempt the descent.

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The Border between the two Countries closes at 4:00 pm every day and the Pass is often closed due to weather conditions, especially duing winter. At the top of the pass is the Sani Top Chalets where, after a challenging trip, from either direction, visitors can experience a drink in the "highest pub in Africa".

Sani Pass is a route that connects Kwazulu-Natal and Lesotho. It is a notoriously dangerous road, which requires the use of a 4x4 vehicle and above average driving experience. It has occasional remains of vehicles that did not succeed in navigating its steep gradients and poor traction surfaces, and has a catalogue of frightening stories of failed attempts at ascending the path over the Northern Lesotho mountains.

While South African immigration at the bottom of pass prohibits vehicles deemed unsuitable for the journey, the Lesotho border agents at the top generally allow vehicles of all types to attempt the descent. The Border between the two Countries closes at 4:00 pm every day and the Pass is often closed due to weather conditions, especially duing winter. At the top of the pass is the Sani Top chalets where, after a challenging trip, from either direction, visitors can experience a drink in the "highest pub in Africa" The Lesotho border post is at Sani Top.

The road drops from there down the torturous zig-zags of the Sani Pass as it descends from the mountain plateau down the Drakensberg mountains and into the South African province of Kwa-Zulu Natal. The Sani Pass was originally a bridle trail for pack animals and was opened up to vehicle transport in the 1950's. The hair-raising pioneering of this route was done by Mokhotlong Motor Transport, a company still operating tours from its base at the bottom of the pass. In the early days, there were several bends where 3-point turns were needed to get around.

Today, the road is better, although it is still only open to four-wheel drive vehicles ascending. Although the descent can be made in an ordinary vehicle, it is not recommended. The South African border post is 8km from the top of the pass and Sani Lodge is a further 16k on the right. The town of Underberg is a further 19km along. The Sani Pass is the gateway to Lesotho’s Roof of Africa circuit that links the spectacular scenery of the Drakensberg with the attractions of Northern Lesotho, as well as South Africa’s Golden Gate National Park via Caledonspoort or the Monontsa Pass.




 






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