Sani Pass was originally developed as a bridal path in 1913 and used as a route for trade between South Africa and
Mokhotlong, in Lesotho. All goods were carried up and down by pack mule. The first vehicle negotiated the path in
1948 and today, this steep zigzagging pass that climbs the face of the Drakensberg escarpment is used on a daily basis.
The road is only accessible to 4x4s and in winter an icy layer covering the surface makes it especially treacherous.
The route, along the top, aptly called the “Roof of Africa”, claims to be the highest road in Africa and third highest in
the world. It peaks at a heady height of 3200m above sea level and the summit of the pass crests within a couple of
kilometres of Thabane Ntlenyana, which at 3482m is the highest peak in Southern Africa.
South of the Mkhomazi
Wilderness Area lies the rugged
beauty of Sani Pass, with its
rocky road that snakes up an
increasingly narrow V-shaped
valley flanked by towering
buttresses, and which offers the
only eastern road access into
Lesotho. The summit of Sani
can also be reached on foot
and involves a 6km walk and a
1000m gain in altitude. For the
intrepid climber, the reward
lies in the few remaining
unconquered pinnacles. Caves
are dotted throughout the
escarpment, although those
adorned with rock paintings
are off-limits for overnight
For those who take the time
to pause and look beyond the
majestic mountain peaks of
the Drakensberg, a miniature
world of industrious activity
is there for the viewing. Ants
scurry busily along the many
footpaths in their endless quest
for food. Down at ground level,
the sturdy dung beetle rolls a
goliath ball of dung, preparing
a future hatching place for her
young. Butterflies whisper past
in splashes of joyous colour.
Colourful ladybirds skim
through the sweet-smelling air.
Cicadas hum a cheery chorus in
the trees. This is Africa, where
insects abound in all their
complex, energetic beauty.