If your idea of an adrenaline rush is to argue about politics with Schwarzenegger on the edge of a cliff or to hum a love song at an AC/DC concert, then you have what it takes to set out on the journey to the Sani Pass in a 4 x 4 vehicle.
I extend you an invitation to go all over this South African region, on an all-terrain vehicle to discover what happiness is, mixed with a little adrenaline.
Those who love all-terrain vehicles don’t just want to take a joy ride around the neighborhood; they want to rev up the engine and test out the resistance! There’s no better place to test it out than the Sani Pass. A quintessential destination for all-terrain drivers.
All year round and from everywhere in the world, vehicles arrive with the intention to conquer the challenge: to reach the summit of the most respected and admired mountain pass of the country, located at 2,873 meters above sea level.
If you plan on coming, bear in mind these 8 KEY factors of this mountain pass:
1. Land Rover Essence
A Land Rover is the epitome of a rough outdoorsman, wearing a salakot and hiking boots. It’s a rough vehicle, not suitable for a wedding car, however, it is ideal to handle this wild route.
As a matter of fact, the Land Rover was the first vehicle to reach the summit back in 1948. Driven by Godfrey Edmons, it took five and a half hours for this RAF ex-pilot to complete the route. It may seem like a long time, but the trail was not built for any vehicles back then.
The achievement gave Edmonds world recognition. In 1961 he founded the Mokhotlong Mountain Transport Sani company, for those adventurers that did not want to drive, so that they could reach the Sani Pass.
The fact that you can still rent a vehicle today, with a skilled driver to reach the pass, without having to be worried about the gearbox, shows that it was a good move to start the company.
2. Dragon Mountains
Right in the heart of the Drakensberg (Dragon mountains) mountain range, the Sani Pass has amazing views.
The mountain range where the pass is located is the 250 kilometer natural border between Lesotho and South Africa. It is a combination of charming natural areas, making this place one of the most beautiful of this particular area of Africa, covered by a thick mantle of vegetables.
3. Special Animals
On the way up, towards the Sani Pass and Lesotho, you will go through a spectacular protected natural area. On the right edge, the route goes through the Ukhahlamba-Maloti National Park, declared by World Heritage Site in 2000. On the left side, the main highlight is the Mkhomazi Wild Reservoir.
In these protected areas you can find several species of mountain antelopes, most of them originate from this part of Africa. There are 290 different birds that inhabit the area. Among those, you can find the Cape Vulture, the Bearded Vulture or singular passeriformes like the Montano Prispit, the Drakensberg Klipspringer and the Buff-streaked Chat.
The white rhinoceros lives in their valleys and lower plains. In addition, the Eland antelope, the black Wildebeest and numerous amphibian and chameleons, also reside in some of the lower plains.
We must be realistic, only the luckiest ones will be able to gaze from a distance at some of these splendid and elusive animals.
4. Low Clouds
Not only does the topography contribute to the risk of this journey, but the meteorology does as well. Due to the slope and altitude, there are many continuous difficulties, which is why we should warn you about the possibility of low clouds that may complicate your drive.
It’s not unusual to find rain, hail and even snow. In any case, it’s an incentive for the risky drivers.
5. Last Six Curves
The first easy slope is quite deceitful. The last part is frightening. The progressive grade runs into a tough series of curves. Some are 180º degree, where the vehicle flies over the edge. The loose rocks add the needed tension to the adventure.
The last six curves are a test for the skillful drivers. The heavy slope will even make you use the first gear, and of course, the four wheel traction.
On that section of the route, high concentration is required, clutch without hesitation, and choose the right gear at the right moment.
6. Pub in the Heights
To get there is something serious. You will be rewarded with a cold beer on the highest pub in Africa.
There is a clean, cozy lodge in the summit. The Sani Mountain Lodge, where local food is served along with the local beer Maluti. You can enjoy them while talking about the adventurous journey.
7. Lesotho Gate
If you reach the summit you will encounter the Customs Office that separates South Africa and Lesotho. Technology is unknown there, and the office is nothing more that a pretentious hut. If your goal is to finish the journey in Lesotho, you will have to go through. Passport and vehicle documentation is required. The fee depends on the vehicle model, but it won’t make you go bankrupt.
8. Sunset at the Valley
The sunset at Sani Pass is an out-of-body experience. It’s recommended to spend the night there, and watch how the sun rises on the valley among the sea of clouds.
If a spider wants to be a hummingbird, it has to evolve. At Nattule, we teach the sedentary how to have wings and fly. And to the nomads, we broaden their horizon and show them places like the Sani Pass. A 33 kilometers winding path.
Seen from up above, it looks like a cardiogram; seen at ground level, it is terrifying.