Sani Pass

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Sani Pass
Sani Pass heading into Lesotho.jpg
Elevation 2,876 m (9,436 ft)[1]
Location Border of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa and Mokhotlong, Lesotho
Range Drakensberg Mountains
Coordinates 29°35′17.3″S 29°17′33.8″E / 29.588139°S 29.292722°E / -29.588139; 29.292722Coordinates: 29°35′17.3″S 29°17′33.8″E / 29.588139°S 29.292722°E / -29.588139; 29.292722
Sani Pass is located in KwaZulu-Natal
Sani Pass
Sani Pass is located in Lesotho
Sani Pass
Location in KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho

Sani Pass is located in the West of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa on the road between Underberg, KwaZulu-Natal and Mokhotlong, Lesotho.

Route[edit]

The route up Sani Pass starts at 1544m and climbs 1332 vertical metres to an altitude of 2876 m. The road is a steep gravel road with gradients up to 1:3, which can be difficult to drive in bad weather and may be covered with snow and ice in winter. By South African law only 4x4 vehicles are allowed on the road.[1] Several tour operators[2] run guided tours up and down the pass. The pass lies between the border controls of both countries and is approximately 9 km in length.[3] Caution must be exercised and drivers or riders must be alert while navigating the pass as it has claimed many lives.[1] Occasionally the remains of vehicles can be seen that did not succeed in navigating its steep gradients and poor traction surfaces.

Road Upgrades[edit]

The Sani Pass dirt road will be upgraded in two phases; phase 1 extending for 14 km from the P318 (Sani Pass) turnoff and finishing at the old Good Hope Trading Post and phase 2 extending from kilometer 14 to kilometer 33, the summit of Sani Pass.[4] Construction work for the first phase commenced in December 2006 and was completed in September 2012.[5]

An economic impact study for phase 2 was compiled in August 2011[6] and its environmental impact assessment was compiled in October 2011.[7]

On 2 July 2013 the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism approved the execution of the phase 2. The intention was to re-gravel the final 5 km of the pass. The department also authorized plans to upgrade the storm-water drainage system and retaining walls along the route to reduce sand and gravel erosion.[8]

On 21 May 2014 the South African Environmental Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa, approved the execution of phase 2. The tarring was planned to start within the five months following the announcement and would bring the total cost of phase 2 of the project to R887-million.[4][9]

In July 2015 was stated that phase 2 shall be completed in 2019.[5]

Border Regulations[edit]

S.A. Border Control
Lesotho Border Post

While South African emigration at the bottom of the pass prohibits vehicles deemed unsuitable for the journey, the Lesotho border agents at the summit generally allow vehicles of all types to attempt the descent. The pass is often closed due to adverse weather conditions, especially during winter.

The respective border control stations open at 6:00 and close at 18:00.[10]

The South African/Lesotho border is at the summit of the pass and not at the South African border control point. Sani Pass therefore lies entirely within South Africa.[1]

Television Appearances[edit]

Sani Pass was recently[when?] used in TV commercials for the new Nissan 4x4 and Ford Ranger 4x4 vehicles.

  • Perilous Journeys episode, "The Roof of Africa".
  • Top Gear, Series 23, Episode 2.
  • Extreme Frontiers - South Africa

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]