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Hiking Sani Pass, Lesotho, on a Budget

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I wouldn’t go as far as claiming to be an avid hiker, but I’m not a novice in terms of physical activity. I believe in travelling on the road less travelled, well the road up Sani Passis is well-travelled, just by 4x4’s. My boyfriend and I decided to be stupid and hike up a mountain. The distance? 1332 vertical metres to an altitude of 2876m and a total distance of 9km.

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None of the above put me off, not even the thought of camping (I did say budget) at the top. What made me question my reason for inhaling was the 40 knot winds fighting against my human, making the hike a battle to stay upright and gain more than 5cm at a time. This was fun, don’t get me wrong, beautiful views and the company of my incredibly optimistic other half. What was terrifying was the 80knots kicking me in my ass propelling me down the mountain on our descent. Death was waving at me with a come-hither expression.

travel with lamb sani pass wokshots africa-9274-2I decided it was my duty to save the ignorant from making the same mistakes, here are my tips for doing Sani Pass on a budget:

  • Wear glasses. The loser type. Seeing through a layer of dust is painful and impractical with death defying drops at the edge of the path.
  • Don’t opt for your typical sedan. From the SA border post you can only continue in 4x4’s, but to be honest, the 12kms of dirt-road from tar to the post was horrific enough to keep it purely for the higher ground clearance vehicles. If you are hiking, it is perfectly safe to leave your car at the border overnight. My other half’s car has large unnecessary rims and unfortunately, they were still there when we returned.
  • Check the weather forecast. No wind allowed. The hike was incredible, bar the wind.
  • Plenty of water and healthy treats such as mixed nuts and dried fruit were absolute lifesavers to keep those energy levels during the hike.
  • There is no a la carte menu at the highest pub in Africa, just a delicious buffet costing R200 per person. Plan accordingly if it’s not your thing.
  • Walking sticks aren’t solely for the elderly. 6kms’s in you will be kissing your gran accessory with gratitude.
  • Your crossfit trainers are not meant for hiking. Beg, borrow or steal to get the right footwear for the sake of your toenails.
  • After you make it to the top, take a selfie. It’s probably the only acceptable time in one’s life to do so. Then make your way to a small building on your left hand side to get your passport stamped. Welcome to Lesotho.
  • Camping will set you back R190 per tent. It’s not as unpleasant as it sounds, just bring layers, emergency blankets and some Sedgwick’s Original Old Brown Sherry. There are showers and a small kitchen if you want to go the self-catering route.
  • If you twist your ankle on the way up, don’t attempt the trek down. There are shuttles at R250 per person taking people down two to three times daily. If you are really brave, try the local taxi’s for a mere 80 bucks. Guaranteed survival is not promised.
  •  Before heading back down, don’t be the idiot that treks 3kms before realising he hasn’t been released from Lesotho. Visit the same small building to get your passport stamped before departing. The same applies at the bottom border post, welcome back to SA – you made it!

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I have no regrets, I’m digging my larger leg muscles and ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ attitude. You will never see anything more beautiful than your 360 degree view of Africa at the top of Sani Pass, you will appreciate every step it took to get you up that mountain, all 13 million of them. 





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Images (6)
  • - sani pass - wokshots photography: Photo by Wokshots Photography
  • - sani pass - wokshots photography: Photo by Wokshots Photography
  • - sani pass - wokshots photography: Photo by Wokshots Photography
  • - sani pass - wokshots photography: Photo by Wokshots Photography
  • - sani pass - wokshots photography: Photo by Wokshots Photography
  • - sani pass - wokshots photography: Photo by Wokshots Photography

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Comments (1)

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That sure looks like an amazing (and very difficult) hike, Travel with Lamb!  I wished I'd been using trekking poles starting with my teens.  They take tremendous strain off your knees, especially when carrying a heavy load like you were.  My knees sadly show the effect of decades of hiking and backpacking.


Given how far this is from home and such, I know I'll never do this hike, but you've taken me there so I thank you for that!

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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