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Driving on a Road Two Miles in the Sky

The Sani Pass is a stunning mountain pass that spans approximately 1.8 miles in elevation, connecting South Africa and Lesotho. The pass is characterized by a treacherous 5.6-mile-long rugged terrain, consisting of loose gravel and rocky surfaces that pose a significant challenge to drivers and adventurers alike.

Sani Pass is a steep 5.6 miles long mountain pass located in the southern Drakensberg Mountains, on the border between South Africa and Lesotho. The pass is named after the nearby Sani Mountain, which is the second-highest mountain in Lesotho. The Sani Pass is a gap in the Drakensberg mountain range formed by erosion caused by glaciers, rivers, wind, rain and other natural forces.

Sani Pass is a steep 5.6 miles long mountain pass located in the southern Drakensberg Mountains
Sani Pass in summer

Elevated roadway through the clouds, traveling the treacherous Sani Pass.

The Sani Pass is a mountain pass located in the Drakensberg Mountains of southern Africa, between South Africa and Lesotho. The road leading up to the pass is a gravel road with a steep gradient and sharp turns, and it can be challenging to navigate, especially in adverse weather conditions. The pass itself is made of a combination of rocky terrain, loose gravel, and dirt.

Sani Pass is the highest pass in South Africa, reaching an altitude of 2,876 meters or 9,429 feet above sea level.The pass was originally used as a trade route between South Africa and Lesotho, and was only accessible by pack animals until the road was built in the 1950s. It connects the town of Himeville in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal with the town of Mokhotlong in the Lesotho highlands. 

The pass is known for its challenging and steep ascent, with sharp bends and hairpin turns that require careful navigation. It is a popular destination for adventurous travelers and off-road enthusiasts, as well as hikers and bikers who come to explore the beautiful mountain scenery and wildlife.

At the top of the pass, there is a small trading post where visitors can purchase refreshments and souvenirs, as well as a pub that claims to be the highest pub in Africa. The pass is also home to the Sani Mountain Lodge, which offers accommodation and tours of the surrounding area.

In addition to its scenic beauty and adventurous appeal, Sani Pass also has historical significance, as it was used as a trade route between the coast and the interior of southern Africa during the colonial era. Today, it remains an important transportation link between South Africa and Lesotho, with many locals using it to transport goods and livestock. At the top of the pass, there is a small trading post that serves as a border control checkpoint between South Africa and Lesotho. 

Also, the Sani Mountain Lodge, located at the top of the pass, is the highest hotel in southern Africa and offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. One of the most popular activities for visitors to the Sani Mountain Lodge is a guided tour of the nearby traditional Basotho village. The village is home to a community of Basotho people who still live in traditional huts and practice their traditional way of life.

The steep and winding road requires careful driving and can be particularly treacherous in bad weather conditions, such as heavy rain, snow or fog. Sani Pass is also said to be a treacherous mountain pass located in Lesotho, and is said to be haunted by the spirits of those who have lost their lives on the pass over the years. Also, many people who visit the Sani Pass report feeling a sense of awe and mystery due to the area's rugged natural beauty, as well as its historical significance as a trade route and the home of the Basotho people.

Sani Pass in winter
Sani Pass in winter

The Sani Pass, Driving on a Dangerous Road Two Miles in the Sky.

Sani Pass can be dangerous due to its steep and narrow road, which can be challenging to navigate, especially during bad weather conditions. The road is unpaved and has many sharp bends and hairpin turns, making it difficult to drive, especially for inexperienced drivers. The road also lacks guardrails in some areas, which can be dangerous for vehicles and passengers.

The time it takes to go up Sani Pass in Lesotho can vary depending on several factors, such as the weather, road conditions, and the type of vehicle you are using. Generally, it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours to drive up the pass.

The Sani Pass is a steep and winding mountain road that requires a 4x4 vehicle to navigate safely, especially in wet or snowy conditions. The road is approximately 9 kilometers or 5.6 miles long and has an average gradient of 1:10, with some sections having gradients as steep as 1:3.

The road also includes several hairpin bends and narrow sections, which can slow down traffic and increase travel time. Additionally, border control and customs procedures at the South African and Lesotho border posts can add extra time to your journey.

The weather conditions in the area can also be unpredictable, and sudden storms can bring heavy rain, fog, and strong winds, which can make driving on the pass even more hazardous. During winter, snow and ice can make the road slippery, and there is a risk of avalanches and rockfalls in some areas.

During the winter months, which typically last from June to August the average annual precipitation rain and snow combined in the Sani Pass area is around 950 millimeters or 37.4 inches. Sani Pass in the Southern Drakensberg Mountains is also home to a number of traditional communities, including the Basotho people, who have lived in the area for centuries. 

Sani Pass is surrounded by a number of stunning hiking trails, including the Thaba Bosiu. Thaba Bosiu, which means Mountain at Night in Sesotho, is believed to have been the site of the first permanent settlement of the Basotho people. It was here that the founder of the Basotho nation, King Moshoeshoe I, established his capital in the early 19th century.

The sandstone plateau is surrounded by a steep escarpment, which provided a natural fortress and protection against invaders. It was from Thaba Bosiu that King Moshoeshoe I and his followers were able to resist attacks from both the Zulu and Boer armies. 

The Basotho people have a long history of cattle herding up the Sani Pass, and many traditional Basotho communities still practice this way of life today. The Basotho people are also known for their distinctive traditional hats, the famous Basotho hat, which is a symbol of Lesotho's national identity.

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