Danielle, Sani Pass, South Africa

Notoriously Dangerous Sani Pass

| Blog South Africa

Sani Pass is a notoriously dangerous pass between South Africa and the landlocked country of Lesotho. We have sat beneath the pass for days, waiting for the weather to clear enough to at least see the ridge line, roughly 2,000 meters above us. The stretch of road is only 9km long, but I know it is going to take us a few hours to traverse the narrow, rocky, 4×4 track up the mountain.

The ride up to the South African border was just a test, a test for us, our motorcycles and our stamina. It had been raining for the last few days and already we have tackled a couple of mud puddles and two river crossings, but otherwise the ground is fairly compact as I stop to check in with Mike to make sure he feels ok to continue the pass crossing today. I look at him, but don’t need to hear his reply, I already know from the grin and twinkle in his eyes. He asks if I want to turn around – Hell no! I shake my head: I want to go up!

We reach the border post, I hand over my passport. The border official, flicks through my passport starting from the first informational page until he eventually finds my entry stamp on the last remaining page in my nearly completed passport. He places an exit stamp on the page, but it doesn’t show clearly enough so he stamps again next to it, taking more precious space than needed. I cringe… I need this passport to last me until I get a new one, but now we are free to roam in no mans land.

We head off, thinking that the Lesotho border will be just a few meters ahead, but instead we just find an abandoned building and our third river crossing. As we climb higher, the road gets even narrower and a lot steeper. Laughing, I push my fully loaded motorcycle up and around a hairpin bend over the ridiculously rocky road. I take a short break to look out for Mike, who has dropped several corners behind me, but even though I have my front and rear brakes locked on, I am still sliding backwards. Now I fear that I will burn out my clutch by the time I reach the top, forcing us to do a roadside fix at such high altitude and dangerous location.

Continuing up the steep road, bouncing over ruts, I feel my bash plate scrap over sharp rocks. My arms burn, my triceps are working for the first time in ages as I keep the throttle locked on and hold the bike steady.Just when I need a break once again, I turn a corner and discover we made it up the Sani Pass, and are crossing under the ‘Welcome to Lesotho’ sign with an immigration building to the left of me. The sign should really read – “Welcome to the Wild Wild West!”. With the paperwork completed, we have to celebrate our achievement at the Highest Pub in Africa, sitting at 2873m. With the Sani Pass completed, it is time to explore the rest of Lesotho.

Nicola from AXO took this blog and turned it into a piece for a motorcycle magazine in Italy. For those who can read Italian you can check out the article here – XOFFROAD.it Article

I had completely forgot we took this video – it was so windy you can not hear anything but I thought it was cute and you will get a better impression of the Sani Pass.