South Africa :: KZN Drakensberg
Category: Scenic Routes :: Mountain Pass
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Sani Pass, which starts at the Sani Pass Hotel (1566m) and ends at the summit (2873m), is 22km long. The road is well maintained and is doable with a vehicle with high clearance. You do not need a 4WD vehicle to traverse the pass.
However, the Sani Pass Trail is 180km long and will take two days to complete, mostly in low range. A route known as The Roof of Africa takes you across Sani Pass into Lesotho and to Katze Dam. You will need a 4x4 for these drives.
Remember to take your passport and prepare for all weather, no matter what time of year you travel. Lesotho border control is situated at the top of the pass. A road tax is payable: ZAR30 for light vehicles (<2000kg) and ZAR60 for medium vehicles (2001kg - 4500kg). (Updated Nov 2016)
|Address :||KZN, South Africa|
|Contact :||Steve Botha|
|Tel :||+27(0)33 701 2759|
|Cell :||+27(0)82 233 0713|
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For emergency numbers, you can phone the Police on +27(0)33702 1332; a private ambulance on +27(0)33 701 2235; the Sani Search Volunteers on +27(0)76 395 0119; or tow in services on +27(0)82 610 5597/+27(0)82 620 6634/+27(0)82 740 6137. (Oct-13).
Sani Pass is the most iconic gravel pass in South Africa. It was built in 1950 and offers beautiful scenery and treacherous conditions when the weather is bad. The summit is at an altitude of 2876m.
Sani Pass itself is a good gravel road that is well maintained. From the Lesotho border post at the summit of Sani Pass the A14 road into Lesotho is tarred and in very good condition. (Aug 2016).
Driving Sani Pass very much depend on current weather and road conditions, whether you are driving up or down, and how much risk you are willing to take.
In the rainy season (October to March), the road can be very badly washed away and muddy. Driving up Sani in these conditions, can be pretty challenging, and even coming down has its challenges as you may face some deep ruts, and driving downhill on a slippery, muddy road is my worst nightmare! So a vehicle with good ground clearance, and four wheel drive, is required. Attempting the road in an ordinary 2x4 vehicle, can be done, but causes extensive damage to the road as the vehicle claws its way upwards, and smaller vehicles may be damaged on the deep ruts in the road. Having low range is recommended, as one can travel at lower speed (and more power), going uphill, and putting the vehicle in low range when coming down, gives more control on your descent, and can also act as a braking system in case of brake failure.
In wintertime, with no rain, the road conditions should be better, but Sani Pass also get some snow in winter, and when this melts, we are back to muddy conditions. If the road was not repaired after the rain, you will still encounter some bad ruts. T4A personal recommendation would be a four wheel drive with low range, a diff lock and good ground clearance – we don’t like taking chances, and always attempt to cause the least damage to the tracks we are using. In good conditions the pass can be done by an SUV with four wheel drive in high range and preferably a manual diff-lock that is engaged before attempting the pass. Automatic differential locking systems such as a viscous coupling or limited slip diff only kicks in after the vehicle has lost traction, and causes more damage to the road, and is therefore less environmentally friendly.
Reportedly it is feasible to take the Sani Pass across Lesotho from the one side of the Free State over to the other side. Passports are needed. No car papers were requested. It was said that a toll fee of ZAR250.00 had to be paid on the Lesotho side. (Dec-17)
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