Scenic and challenging Sani Pass should be on any hardcore mountain bikers bucket list. Cycle up the Sani Pass into Lesotho or along surrounding district roads. This is a dirt road mountain pass in the scenic Southern Drakensberg mountains, starts as a gradual incline and gets increasingly steeper with hairpin bends and precipitous drops into the valley below. The route climbs 1465m over 24km. The last 2km are the steepest, but the thought of ice cold beers waiting for you at Sani Mountain Lodge pub at the top (the highest pub in Africa) may just help to keep you going.
Once at the top there is a further 10 km plateau ride. For those who want to skip the uphill, just drive your bikes up to the plateau to access this section of the route. Up here the air is thin, but if you are really looking to push you limits, carry on to Black Mountain Pass. Although not nearly as steep as Sani itself, at 3,200 m above sea level at its highest, there is just not enough air and your heart rate will to skyrocket. It takes an average rider about 5 hours to get up and less than an hour to come back down.
- Carrying warm clothing, since the weather can change from sunny to freezing in minutes around here.
- Take your passports and check visa requirements as you will cross the international border between South Africa and Lesotho.
- The road is also used by heavily loaded 4×4 vehicles so keep alert and ride safely.
- Start off the ride at Sani Lodge Backpackers where you will find safe parking and warm hospitality.
Images © Mojo Velo