Scaling Sani Pass in a Suzuki Jimny
Sani Pass is undoubtedly one of South Africa’s best mountain passes. Thousands of local and foreign travelers tackle the 4×4 mountain pass to take in sensational scenery and test their driving skills.
Forming the border between Lesotho and KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, Sani Pass scales a massive 1322 meters as it ascends the Drakensberg Mountain range to a summit altitude of 2876m above sea level. The ascend/descend is 232 meters more than its nearest rival in South Africa – Mariepskop Pass in Mpumalanga. The pass is recognised as South Africa’s toughest mountain pass with unpredictable weather conditions making it tough to navigate, especially in winter when snowy conditions can be experienced.
Why consider Sani Pass?
Firstly, the mountain scenery is something to behold. The Drakensberg Mountain Range is the eastern portion of the Great Escarpment which encloses the central Southern African Plateau. The mountain range covers over 1,000km with its highest point an impressive 3,482m above sea level. With Sani Pass peaking at 2876m you are almost there and a short drive into Lesotho will take you even higher.
Secondly, the experience of navigating the tricky mountain trail is exhilarating. While the passes average gradient is 1:20 it gets as steep as 1:4 toward the top of the pass as you enter Lesotho. While the bottom portion of the pass is an easy drive as it makes its way toward the escarpment, it is the last few kilometers that will have your heart pounding. Please remember to stop at all the viewing points on the way up – you won’t regret it.
Oh, and did we mention that perched on the top of the pass you will find the highest pub in Africa. With a beautiful view of the pass below, you can sip on a refreshing beverage and enjoy a delicious lunch at the Sani Mountain Lodge pub, taking in the mountain splendor all around. If the weather is cold, and it often is, you can settle down inside near the fire for a pub grub. If the conditions outside are manageable, we recommend you take the time to walk around and enjoy the various vantage points. For those who prefer to travel slow, spend the night at the Sani Mountain Lodge in one of their impressive cabins. Camping facilities are also available nearby for camping enthusiasts.
Can a Suzuki Jimny manage Sani Pass?
Of course, yes! As we say so often, the Suzuki Jimny is an extremely capable vehicle and Sani Pass is an exciting adventure if you are planning to rent a 4×4.. The steep and slippery road is a challenge to drive, so it is important you engage the 4×4 low-range gear as you summit the pass. Without it, there is no way you will make it to the pub. On the way down, the low-range gearing will help you descend slowly.
Sani Pass is a popular weekend breakaway for the local Suzuki Jimny owners’ clubs with large numbers of Jimny’s often seen negotiating the pass in a group. If you happen to bump into one of the groups, they will welcome you to the gang.
Large numbers of international visitors include Sani Pass in their overland adventure across South Africa. Depending on your route, you can start in Johannesburg and head down to Clarens and into Lesotho. After a few nights exploring the Mountain Kingdom you can exit Lesotho via Sani Pass and into KwaZulu-Natal. From there you can either head south to the Eastern Cape or up the north coast and ultimately toward the Kruger National Park.
For our local guests, Sani Pass is an amazing weekend escape. With a variety of accommodation options in KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho, the options are endless. We recommend you take your time and soak up the mountain scenery for all it as to offer.
Accommodation to Consider
Sani Mountain Lodge
set on the top of the Sani Pass so you can drink as much beer as you want. Visit Sani Mountain Lodge for more information.
Sani Valley Lodge
Set in a private reserve, Sani Valley Lodge offers beautiful self-catering cottages and a great base from which to explore the area. Visit Sani Valley Lodge for more information.
Sani Lodge Backpackers
For those who enjoy the backpacking vibe, you will love this. They have a verity of accommodation options from camping to self-catering rondavels . Visit Sani Lodge Backpackers for more information.
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We offer affordable, fun and adventurous 4×4 hire and self drive vacations to South Africa using our fully equipped and highly capable Suzuki Jimny’s. Everything you need for your self drive adventure and nothing you don’t.
All our Jimny’s are equipped with the essential’s for a comfortable self drive or camping vacation. We believe in minimalistic travel so we’ve left the bells and whistles behind.
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