Sani Pass is a famous mountain pass located in the Drakensberg Mountains on the border between South Africa and Lesotho. It is known for its steep and challenging terrain, making it a popular destination for 4×4 enthusiasts and adventure seekers. The pass located west of the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa and is part of the road that connects Underberg in the same province to Mokhotlong in the neighboring country of Lesotho.
The pass offers stunning views of the surrounding landscapes and is often traversed by tourists looking to experience the thrill of driving up the rugged mountainside. Please note that due to its rugged nature, Sani Pass is only accessible by 4×4 vehicles and is subject to weather and road conditions.
The Sani Pass route begins in Underberg at an elevation of 1,542 meters and ascends to its peak in Lesotho at an altitude of 2,876 meters, with a gradient of 1,332 meters. At the summit, there is a border crossing separating South Africa and Lesotho, so it is essential to have a valid passport and a visa to enter Lesotho.
The crossing is only permitted during the border opening hours, from 6 am to 6 pm. Please note that on the South African side of the ascent, only 4×4 vehicles in good condition are allowed to pass. On the other hand, from the Lesotho side, you can traverse the road in any type of motorized vehicle.
The ascent to Sani Pass becomes extremely challenging in adverse weather conditions. During winter and the rainy season, the road becomes slippery and dangerous. Therefore, traveling on this road without a suitable vehicle is strongly discouraged.
The pass is one of the most iconic and visited in South Africa, as it is not only the highest in the country but also serves as the gateway to the Drakensberg Mountains (“mountains of the Dragon” in Afrikaans), spectacular mountains that span across South Africa and Lesotho.
This road was constructed in the early 1950s as a route to transport goods from South Africa to Mokhotlong, and it wasn’t until 1955 that it was opened for motorized vehicles. Despite the improvements made to the road since then, the route remains dangerous. There is a plan by the South African Ministry of Environment to improve the road.
The project will boost the development of the regions on both sides of the border, benefiting Mokhotlong in Lesotho, as well as Himvelle, Underberg, and Pietermaritzburg in South Africa. After the improvements, normal vehicle traffic and public transportation will be allowed, so if you are a 4×4 enthusiast, make sure to visit this place soon.