Lesotho

Sani Pass Day Tour: The Sani Pass is a gravel track connecting South Africa with the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. Rising 1332 metres to an altitude of 2876m in just 9 kilometres it has 1:3 gradients and numerous tight hairpins. It’s the most dramatic 4×4 drive in South Africa.

My childhood best friend and her family were out from Australia as we were celebrating my 50th which had come gone and hers which was fast approaching. We had made a plan to stay at Fairview in Drakensberg Gardens as we use to come here on holiday at my Oupa’s timeshare every December when we were at school. As part of this trip we had arranged with Major Adventures to do a Sani Pass Day Tour.

It truly is one of the most spectacular drives in Africa. We met at the offices in Underberg at 8.30am and did the paperwork and processed payment. There were 8 of us and we climbed aboard a comfortable 10 seater 4×4. Our driver was the every friendly Elias who was also very fit and accustomed to running up and down the hills in the Berg. We were soon on our way and before we knew it we were snaking up the mountain around hair raising bends while Elias explained the history of the pass to us. It was originally built as a bridal path as part of a trade route in 1913. It is said that the drivers had spare animals which would replace any laggards that they would push over the edge after switching loads! In those days Sani was easily identifiable from afar due to the vultures and lammergeiers circling. The first vehicle negotiated the pass on 26 October 1948 by an ex spitfire pilot called Godfrey Edmonds who, aided by labourers manhandled a war surplus jeep up the path which took 6 hours!

We had several stops to admire and photograph the magnificent views of walls of sandstone and cascading rivers.

We then reached the Border Post where Elias handled the logistics and we got our passport stamped.

We headed to a Basotho Village and enjoyed a cultural experience led by a young lady called Mapesagu who hosted us. She is a very bright young lady and had won a trip to the USA as an Ambassador of learning from Lesotho. She introduced us to the Traditional Healer and her assistants.

We joined the ladies for a ceremonial dance. It was very interesting to see their big smiles and humble way of life.

Mapesagu took us out on the ponies which were very obedient.

We then enjoyed a tasty lunch before heading off.

We were excited for our next stop: The Highest Pub in the Africa welcomed us to the roof of the world! It gets very windy here! We enjoyed a drink chatting about the day before heading back down the Pass. Highly recommended trip!

WORTHY CHARITY: Sentebale which is a charity founded by Prince Harry following his gap year in Lesotho in 2004 and which works to help vulnerable children’s lives.

RELATED READING: Click on Lesotho and enjoy this suggested reading list to enhance your experience of this wonderful country.

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