Even though the Kingdom of Lesotho is entirely surrounded by South Africa one still crosses a "proper" international border. Therefore do not forget your passports even if you just like to visit the top of the pass. Passports are being stamped both at the South African and Lesotho border posts. The South African border post is situated some 8 km away from the Lesotho border - thereafter you are reaching the adventure part of Sani Pass!
This former trading station from the 1800's was positioned at the foot of the Sani Pass. In old times traders would make their way down the pass with donkeys, overnight at the trading station and then make their way back up the pass with the goods they had exchanged. Today only the ruins are left and there is talk that the ruins are to be removed to place the new border post at this point.
Sani's Pass is actually located in Lesotho. You get another stamp in your passport... for those interested. You can hike in and around the area if you like, many different paths to take, some are not that well marked, be sure to know where you are going before setting out. Lodges in the area have many maps and know where to direct you.
There are also cultural trips to spend time in a traditional Basuto village. Usually led by a guide and often very expensive for what you get.
Keith back in Smiths Cottage Durban, arranged a tour guide for us to visit the Sani Pass.
We were very impressed, this guy turned up on time (a rarety in Africa!), armed with his 4WD we were suprised to find out that it was only us that day! Brilliant - a tour guide all to ourselves.
He was a skilled driver and was very informative on the area, cultures, flora and fauna and scenic lookouts.
I can get the contact details of this tour company from Smiths Cottage if requested, alternativley you could stay there while in Durban and Keith will then sort out the same guide for you!
The Sani Pass is quite literally that - a pass.
The road is steep and windey, it is a mud road and is only accessible by 4WD. You could try and go up in a 2WD but it is not reccommended and you will not get through immigration.
Coming from Lesotho down the Sani Pass you do not need a 4WD (although I would reccomend it!), it is the South African immigration who implements this rule and for good reason in my opinion.
If you do not have your own 4WD you will have to take a tour like we did.
The Sani Pass is one of the most scenic roads I have ever driven on. As I am afraid of heights I did think that this drive would terrify me! But it must have been the skill of our driver, I was not scared once.
I loved stopping along the pass at many scenic lookouts, taking in the wonderful scenery and taking a few snaps!
Some of the waterfalls along the pass are beautiful. Some are nestled away in the mountains and others are along the roadside. We got out at a few waterfalls and our guide washed and drank water from them.
If you intend travelling to Lesotho which is at the top of the Sani Pass then you must take your passport and clear immigration on both sides on the way up, and on the way down.