Originally a mule track, it is still a tortuous, hair-raising road today. At 2873m you enter the land of the hardy “people of the blanket”, a place that time has forgotten.
The views from this altitude are nothing less than awe-inspiring, with snow and frozen waterfalls in winter, and a blaze of flower blooms in summer.
Take your own 4×4 or let a recognised Tour Operator drive you.
Valid passports are essential for each person and some require a visa. Enquire with the Tour operators.
UNDER YOUR OWN STEAM
A 4×4 is recommended, especially in winter with ice and snow on the pass, or in the wet summer months.
You might even need chains.
If you don’t want to drive up the pass, park at the border post and walk up. The walk is 8km each way and will take 2-3 hours up and about 2 hours down. It is also a tough but exhilarating bike ride.
The SA border post opens 06h00 & closes 18h00 sharp.
CONTROVERSY OVER THE FUTURE OF THE ROAD
In 2005, the South African government started a process proposing to upgrade the Sani Pass with a hard surface. This was part of a joint project with Lesotho to upgrade the whole route across that country. On the Lesotho side of the border, the tarring of the road from Mokhotlong to Sani Top began in November 2012 with construction by a Chinese contractor proceeding at great pace. They are planning to finish the job in a 3 year period. On the South African side, an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process had to be followed before any work can begin. The EIA began in 2007, and after much public consultation, was concluded in late 2012. The EIA report then went to the South African Department of Environmental Affairs, and they gave their decision in mid-2013. The decision was that the upgrade could take place, but only with an upgraded gravel surface which would preserve the character of the Pass itself. However, the Department of Transport appealed, and in mid-2014, the Minister handed down her decision in upholding the appeal and giving permission for the hard surface. Work has not yet begun as of time of writing (April 2015). If the project does ultimately go ahead, the design engineers have allocated 5 years to complete the work.