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
Location in KwaZulu-Natal

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


The route up Sani Pass starts at 1544m and climbs 1332 vertical metres to an altitude of 2876 m. The road is notoriously dangerous and requires the use of a 4x4 vehicle. The pass lies between the border controls of both countries and is approximately 9 km in length.[2] 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 was to 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.[3] Construction work commenced in December 2006.

An economic impact study of surfacing the Sani Pass Road was compiled in August 2011.[4] An environmental impact assessment for the proposed phase 2 upgrade of the Sani Pass road was compiled in October 2011.[5]

On 2 July 2013 the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism approved plans to upgrade the road surface on the final 19 km long section leading up to the Lesotho border post over the following three years. 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.[6]

On 21 May 2014 the South African Environmental Affairs Minister, Edna Molewa, approved the tarring of the final 5 km stretch of the pass. The tarring of phase 2 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.[3][7]

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.[8]

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]


See also[edit]


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