So at the border we are, virtually speaking. Luckily this time around passports are not a requirement, but should one rush here post-lockdown, then they are an absolute necessity, it is after all an international border crossing.
For the next 8 kilometres to the top of Sani Pass one is going to ascend a smidge under 1000m. Although the switch backs are the steepest part of the climb it sort of equates to just over 100m ascent for every kilometre travelled.
A 4X4 is a requirement and with the current state of the pass one would be playing with your heart rate if it didn’t have low range as well. Hemorrhoid Hill, Twin Springs, Suicide Corner, Ice Corner and Grace Corner all speak for themselves.
For the more adventurous a hike up the pass is a seriously good option. About two and a half hours will get one of moderate fitness from the border to the top. That air is thin so hydrate plenty and keep a steady pace.
Summertime ( and the living is easy!) and the rain brings on a kaleidoscope of colour with wild flowers in abundance and the verdant greens give the pass a pastural glow. Mountain streams abound and imbibing nature’s bounty on a hot steamy day is heavenly.
The weather in summer can be a bit of a lottery, often with misty days depriving one of the breathtaking vistas, but the journey is no less exciting or enjoyable.
Winter obviously can bring the snow and perma ice, and one may even encounter our local mountain rescue club members Paul and Barend practising their ice climbing skills on Ice Corner.
However, the winter weather is generally more stable and the greens morph into all manner of pale pastel hues from browns to reds and rusts that compliment the normally crystal blue skies.
Keep an eye out for endemic birds like the Drakensberg Rockjumper and Drakensberg Siskin, also the little creatures like rock agamas, crag lizards and my favourite, the cute little Sloggets Ice Rats that scurry around the rocks at the top, ever mindful of the Jackal Buzzard, Verreaux Eagle and Falcons that patrol the skies searching for supper!
Don’t……. be in a hurry……. stop along the way, there is nothing like a gastronomic pause for padkos and a cup of coffee, to sit, to breathe and drink in the pure bliss of nature’s perfect imagery.
The best part about summiting at 2840m is the sight of Sani Mountain Lodge wherein lies the highest pub in Africa, but don’t think you can sneak in there without stamping into Lesotho first, they don’t take kindly to it. Check-in and then go sip a Hot Chocolate or chug back a Maluti Lager (Lesotho Brewed) on the deck of the lodge and take a moment to enjoy the wonder of it all.
Sadly there is internet connectivity there so if you’re like everyone else, then go and sit in the comfy lounge on your cell phone for the rest of the stay. (i kid you not…, who knows maybe Covid will have changed our appreciation of things that really matter).
After in excess of 200 trips up Sani Pass, it never on any occasion fails to captivate, enchant and enamour me,………and at times, scare me too!
THE ARMCHAIR TRAVELER'S GUIDE TO THE SOUTHERN BERG
EPISODE 2 - SA BORDER TO SANI TOP
Don’t get too comfy, because next episode we gonna take a little hike with a difference!
Places to see
What to do