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Sani Lodge Backpackers

Dormitories, Heated thatch en suite rondavels, Double Rooms, Camping near Sani Pass


Sani Lodge provides a wide range of accommodation  deep in the majestic Southern Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa,bordering directly onto the World Heritage listed uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park. Situated at the foot of the Sani Pass, the Gateway to the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, Sani Lodge is a peaceful country haven with a  laid back atmosphere, where guests can simply kick off their shoes and wholly unwind. Russell and Simone Suchet started the Lodge in 1992 and are both passionate about the wilderness, mountains and Lesotho. Join Russell for a chat about his book “A Backpacker’s Guide to Lesotho” over a cup of tea or coffee and a slice of our renowned chocolate cake. Relax at “One of the Best Backpackers away from the big towns in South Africa" ( SA Handbook), breathe in pure mountain air, soak up sunshine next to invigorating mountain pools only half an hour hike away, retire to the sunny reading nook, enjoy sundowners on our verandah facing the awesome mountain range bordering onto Lesotho, and in winter, curl up in front of a log fire in the cosy common room.

Sani Lodge is at the start of the famous Giant’s Cup Trail. It is an ideal base for selfguided hikes and guided hiking, viewing Bushman Rock Art, exploring Lesotho from one to six days, horseriding, mountain biking, swimming in mountain rivers and pools, and viewing birds and animals unique to this area.

Sani Lodge is the base for Drakensberg Adventures, offering excellent action packed tours with knowledgeable guides and all inclusive packages for a full mountain experience.


Sani Lodge Backpackers offers a wide range of budget accommodation. Guests have full use of modern fully equipped self-catering kitchens (stove, fridges, microwave, kettle, toaster, cutlery, crockery, pots and pans), central cosy communal sitting room with open fireplace and reading room, braai area, sundowner verandah facing the sun setting over the mountains of Lesotho- the meeting place for friendly international chatter, clean, spacious ablutions with hot showers, an outdoor shower with unforgettable mountain views and a laundry service.

Ideal for small tents or campervans. Not suitable for caravans. No power points.Separate ablutions and basic kitchen.

Duiker / Rhebok/ Oribi / Eland; each room sleeps four people on bunk beds. Bedding provided.

Standard rooms
Wydah / Lourie / Sunbird / Nightjar / Ibis; each room sleeps two people on either double or twin beds. Bedding provided including feather duvets.

En suite heated thatch rondavels
Francolin / Woodpecker / Kingfisher / Hoopoe; each private rondavel sleeps two people on either double or twin beds. Bedding including feather duvets, towels, heater and tea / coffee with kettle provided. Contains a shower, toilet and handbasin in each.

Group facility
Double storey stoneclad historic building with 4 bedrooms sleeping a total of 25 people. Ideal for large groups. Two bathrooms, large equipped self-catering kitchen (chest freezer, fridge, stove, kettle, toaster, crockery, cutlery, pots and pans), dining area, lounge with fireplace, outside garden with braai. Bedding is provided.

Self Catering

Honeyguide self-catering cottage is a charming private stoneclad cottage with cypress flooring and pine ceilings throughout, set in an indigenous garden and suited to families of four people or honeymoon couples. It has magnificent views of Hodgson's Peaks (The Giant's Cup) which forms part of the escarpment separating Lesotho from South Africa, which can be seen from the main bedroom, cosy lounge with open fireplace and the verandah with braai.

There is a small second bedroom with twin beds and mountain views, an open plan kitchenette equipped with stove, fridge, microwave, cutlery, crockery, pots, pans and breakfast nook, and a bathroom. All linen, duvets, blankets, bath towels, soap are provided. A child's campcot is available if required. Firewood is available. The cottage is serviced daily. All meals available on request. Dinner needs to be booked in advance.

Guineafowl self-catering thatched cottage is set in an indigenous garden and suited to families of five people. There are two bedrooms, one with double bed and the second with bunk bed. The fifth bed is in the lounge. All linen, duvets, blankets, bath towels, soap are provided. A child's campcot is available if required. The open plan kitchenette has a stove, microwave, fridge, cutlery, crockery, pots, pans and table with stools. The bathroom has a shower, toilet and handbasin. Braai in garden.The cottage is serviced daily. All meals available on request. Dinner needs to be booked in advance.

The Lodge and Cottages are all non smoking establishments. No pets allowed.


Sani Lodge BackpackersDouble Rooms - Sani Lodge backpackersSani Lodge Backpackers


Sani Pass Tours

 The Sani Pass is the only vehicle route over the Drakensberg escarpment and into the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. It is a spectacular 4x4 track twisting and snaking its way through the rocky cliffs to the top of the world. Before the 1950's, it was a trail for pack animals to carry goods through to the isolated town of Mokhotlong in Eastern Lesotho. Now, the road carries 4x4 vehicles, though the odd donkey and horse can still be seen plodding slowly up the steep route. Crossing the border at the top of the pass, one enters not only another country (passports required (Please click here for Lesotho visa requirements)), but another world. The Basotho have a unique African mountain culture, reminiscent of Tibet! People live in traditional rondavels(huts), herd goats and sheep in the high mountains and grow crops by ox-ploughing and hand-hoeing in a lifestyle fascinating for the visitor. Come and experience the wonders of the mountains. Visit Lesotho under your own steam, or on one of our tours. The South African border post opens at 6am and closes at 6pm.

4 x 4 tours
up the spectacular Sani Pass into the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho. Drakensberg Adventures, based at Sani Lodge runs 4x4 tours in their own landrover.

• Standard Day Tour
This popular day tour gives an all round taste of Lesotho via the spectacular gateway of the Sani Pass (2874m). Travel up the only road through the Drakensberg cliffs in a 4x4, hearing tales of the pioneering of the route, learn about the natural history of the Drakensberg and see the beautiful wildflowers, wildlife and birds which inhabit the slopes. We drive further into Lesotho, visiting a small shepherd’s village to get a feel for the unique way of life, including sheep shearing in season. Ascend Black Mountain (3240m), second highest road pass in Lesotho and picnic with stunning views. We take a short walk to view Thabana Ntlenyana, the highest point in southern Africa at 3482, then return via a stop at Sani Top Chalet for a drink in the highest pub in Africa. .

Passports essential.
Tour price includes a contribution to the Sani Top community which we visit.

Please have a look at our tour map or download Tour Brochure pdf file

• Hodgson's Peaks

For those looking for a Sani Pass experience with a challenging hike added on, see the Hodgsons Peaks Trip.

More About Lesotho
For those who do a tour and want to know more, or for those wanting to travel deeper into Lesotho for a longer period, "A Backpacker's Guide to Lesotho" is an invaluable little book. Written by Russell in 1993, the book has been regularly updated and offers background information on the country as well as specific travel information on where to go, what to see, how to get there and where to stay. The current edition was updated in March 2006. If this isn't enough, then come to Sani Lodge and ask the author himself for the latest information. A trip through Lesotho should be an incredibly rewarding experience, start it with us and we'll help you get the most out of it. Click here for more information on the book.

If you are interested in longer Lesotho trips please look here for a directory of all our tours

Hodgon's Peaks

This trip starts like the Standard Sani Tour by ascending the Sani Pass in a 4x4 vehicle. Parking at Sani Top, we set off on a 4 hour (return) hike to climb the highest peak on this section of the southern Drakensberg, Hodgson’s Peaks (also called “The Giant’s Cup”) at 3256m. This guided hike crosses alpine meadowland, past flocks of sheep and angora goats minded by shepherds, before the final climb to the peak. Situated on the edge of the escarpment, the summit provides not only a satisfying climb, but superb 360 degree views of the Drakensberg, the KZN midlands and in to the mountainous interior of Lesotho. The hike can be described as moderate – hiking only – no technical climbing involved.

Passports essential. (Please click here for Lesotho visa requirements)


Rock Art Tour

Rock Art – An opportunity to experience something special

The Drakensberg Mountains, besides their natural beauty, are home to one of the largest art galleries in the world. There are hundreds of painted rock overhangs or shelters, with literally thousands of individual paintings in them. This amazing treasure trove of art was left behind by the Bushmen who inhabited the Drakensberg for at least 10 000 years. Sadly, they are no longer with us, but their paintings are, and they provide not only much beauty and fascination, but also a glimpse of the inner workings of their compassionate and caring society.

All rock art sites which fall within the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park are now no longer open to the casual visitor. They can only be visited by groups accompanied by approved guides. This is to ensure the protection of the art from vandals and ignorant visitors who inadvertantly damage them. We are accredited guides, and can not only guide you to one of a number of unspoilt panels, but also fill you in on all the background to the Bushmen, including the latest thinking on the art. This will greatly add to your understanding and thus your enjoyment of the art.

Our "In the Footsteps of the Bushmen" guided day hikes are an excellent way to learn not only about the Bushmen, but also about the flora, fauna and natural history of the Drakensberg. We offer full day hikes (moderate fitness required) to unspoilt panels of rock art


Situated on the boundary of the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park Sani Lodge is perfectly situated for exploring this wilderness area on foot. Choose between day hikes, longer overnight trails or walk the famous Giant’s Cup Trail. All hikes start from our doorstep. No shuttle needed! Day Hikes
Experience peace, tranquility, wildlife, wild flowers and very very few other human beings if any!! Hikes vary in length from 1 to 8 hours. They include superb views of the peaks of the area, especially Hodgson's Peaks at 3256m, as well as beautiful mountain streams, pools to swim in, waterfalls, indigenous forest and challenging ascents. Take in breathtaking views from the top of Ndlovini (2200m), stand at the base of the Balancing Rocks and catch sight of mountain and southern reedbuck,eland,oribi,duiker,grey rhebok,baboon,rock hyraxes,bearded vultures.
KZN Wildlife permits are available from the lodge, and we provide maps and route descriptions to our guests, so the hikes are self-guided. If you want to know more about the natural history of the area, our "In the Footsteps of the Bushmen" guided hike will give you a good feel for what the Berg is all about.

Eastern Lesotho

The tour starts at 9am from Sani Lodge. We travel the spectacular 4x4 track up the Sani Pass and into Lesotho. From Sani Top, we drive about 50km into Lesotho, over Black Mountain Pass (at 3240m, the second highest road pass in Lesotho) and down the Sehonghong river valley, through rugged scenery. We have lunch by a set of lovely swimming spots in the river, and then head on into typical highland village country. See the picturesque Basotho rondavels, fields ploughed by oxen on steep gradients, shepherds with their flocks of sheep and goats and Basotho riders, blanket-clad on their sturdy ponies. By early afternoon, we arrive at Matsoaing village, the home of our hosts for a day, Thabiso Nguni and his family. This hospitable family will do their best to help you gain an insight into the unique culture of this mountain kingdom.

Pony Trekkings

Sehlabathebe National Park Tours

The centerpiece of these tours is the oldest National Park in Lesotho, Sehlabathebe National Park which was created by Lesotho's first Prime Minister, Chief Leabua Jonathan. The park is a little known, secret jewel!! Explore the hidden gems of this park: soaring mountain vistas, secluded rock pools, waterfalls, rock dwellings, massive overhangs, rock art, rock arches and a beautiful and unique ecosystem of plants, birds and animals. The tours end with a unique way to cross from one country to another, via a border post which has a road coming into it from the South African side, but only a path on the Lesotho side.

Southern Lesotho

 Join us on this voyage of exploration as we visit a totally untouched part of Lesotho, staying in community run tourism ventures in remote villages and hiking and/or horse riding to beautiful, seldom visited areas, deep in the spectacular mountains between the mighty Senqu river valley and the southern border of Lesotho!

The route from Sani Lodge travels through the rich farming lands of East Griqualand in South Africa to the town of Matatiele. From there, we travel north, climbing the Qachas Nek Pass and crossing into Lesotho. We then travel west, across the southern part of Lesotho, initially following the tremendous valley of the Senqu (Orange) river as it drains the highlands of Lesotho. To the south of this main road lies a very remote mountainous area between the Senqu river and the southern border with South Africa. It is this fascinating, seldom visited part of the country that we concentrate on in these tours.

Sani Lodge via Qachas Nek border post to Ha Thlaku village. Arrive late afternoon, possibility for a short hike. Overnight in village accommodation in this community tourism enterprise.

Horse Ride to the edge of the escarpment (border with SA). This is a very long ride – 8 hours in the saddle and will appeal to the more experience rider. Other more gentle riding options exist, as well as hiking options, all led by local guides. In the late afternoon, we travel on to Moorosi Chalets where we stay the night.

Full day exploring the area which includes the historical battlefield of Mount Moorosi and a series of great swimming pools in the Quthing river nearby. Overnight at Moorosi Chalets.

Travel to Quthing to see the dinosaur footprints and the 19th century mission cave house at Masitise. Travel 50km off the main route to the community tourism enterprise in the remote village of Ha Liphapang. Afternoon horse-riding or hiking into remote valleys to superb Bushman painting sites.

Return via Qachas Nek to Sani Lodge

As for the 5 day trip, but excluding the day at Ha Thlaku. Day 1 drives direct from Sani Lodge to Moorosi Chalets.

This trip only goes to Ha Thlaku, spending a full day there doing the long horse-ride to the edge of the escarpment – 8 hours in the saddle and appealing to the more experienced rider. We stay the second night at Ha Thlaku and have part of the morning of day 3 to ride some more or do a short hike before setting off on the return journey.

NOTE: Tour itineraries are flexible and can be tailor made to personal interests and requirements.

Prices are all inclusive of transport, guides, accommodation meals and all activities.

REQUIRED: VALID PASSPORT(Please click here for Lesotho visa requirements)

YOU BRING warm clothing, raingear, day pack, hat, sunscreen, toiletries, towel. You do not require a sleeping bag. PASSPORTS ESSENTIAL.
Roof of Africa
These tours around central and northern Lesotho have a taste of all the attractions which make Lesotho the perfect destination for the adventurous traveller. We recommend doing this circuit as a 5 day tour, but it is possible to do it in 4 or to lengthen it to 6 (or more!) We aim to explore the highlands, do some pony trekking, hiking, cross six 3000m+ spectacular road passes, see Bushman Rock Art, wonder through an enchanted indigenous forest, enjoy Lesotho's only botanical garden, swim in crystal clear mountain pools (in summer!!), visit a diamond mine, explore the three nature and cultural reserves in the north of the country and return via the route known as "The Roof of Africa" after the famous motor rally which used to take place there. We spend time with a Basotho family getting to know more about the way of life of this tough and hospitable mountain people. A highlight is a visit to Katse Dam, centrepiece of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project which takes the water of the Lesotho Highlands via an incredible series of dams and tunnels through the mountains eventually coming out on the plains of South Africa's Free State province where it gravity feeds to supply Johannesburg and Pretoria with water. It was touted as the biggest engineering project in the southern hemisphere in the 1990's when it was under construction, and the sight of the massive dam wall and the deep still lake it has created in the mountains is well worth beholding!!
Depart Sani Lodge around 9am in 4x4 vehicle up the Sani Pass. Cross into Lesotho and carry on via Kotisepola Pass (3240m) and down the scenic Sehonghong Valley. Picnic lunch by the river. Continue on to arrive at Matsoaing village, the home of our hosts the Nguni family at the quaintly named No. 10 Riverside. They will show us around the area, visit a traditional healer, experience traditional dancing and eat traditional meals with the family. Overnight in a traditional rondavel.
Depart after breakfast and travel west, over another 3000m+ road pass, the Menoaneng . Beautiful scenery, then drop down, down, down to the major river draining the Lesotho Highlands, the Senqu (becomes the Orange River). Cross the river at the low level Koma Koma crossing, then climb out of the valley, via the town of Thaba Tseka to arrive early afternoon at Katse Dam. We join the dam tour and get inside the dam wall!! Visit the lovely Katse Botanical gardens to experience some of Lesotho's beautiful plants and flowers in a magnificent setting. Overnight at Katse Cottages.
After breakfast, we depart Katse and follow the lake north, up towards its headwaters. The road crosses the dam over the spectacular Malibamatso Bridge, then climbs another 3000m+ pass, Mafika Lisiu at the top of which is Bokong Nature Reserve. Lunch here and a short hike to view the Lepaqoa Waterfall. Continue on down the other side of the pass, via the town of Hlotse to Ts'ehlanyane National Park. Overnight at Ts'ehlanyane Guest Cottage
Full day to enjoy the wonders of Ts'ehlanyane, either on a guided hike or horse-ride. Soaring mountain scenery, an enchanted indigenous forest, pools, waterfalls and a sense of serenity make this a special place. Overnight at Ts'ehlanyane Guest Cottage.
Depart after breakfast to the cultural reserve at Liphofung. The guide will interpret a very good panel of Bushman Rock Art, tell of the significance of the cave in Basotho history and then show us around the cultural village which has been set up there. We continue on over the Moteng Pass, past Oxbow Lodge, climbing Mahlasela Pass on to the „Roof of Africa" route to the town of  Mokhotlong, known in the 1950's as the most isolated outpost of the British Empire. Time permitting, we stop for a drink at the highest pub in Africa, arriving back at Sani Lodge around 4.30pm.

As for 5 day tour, but leave out day 4, the full day at Tsehlanyane.

As for 5 day tour, but split day 5 into two. This allows more time to see things on the Roof of Africa route, namely Liphofung Cultural Reserve and the diamond mine at Letseng-la-Terai. We stay the night of Day 5 at Molumong Lodge, with time for morning horse ride on Day 6.

REQUIRED: VALID PASSPORT(Please click here for Lesotho visa requirements)

YOU BRING warm clothing, sleeping bag, raingear, hat, sunscreen, toiletries, towel, extra clothing

Horse Riding

 Mountain Biking
The mountain terrain is ideal for keen bikers to explore, offering gentle gradients with spectacular scenery, to the challenge of the famous Sani Pass into Lesotho, an ascent of 900 metres between the South African and Lesotho border posts. So, if it's the rush of adrenaline you're after or just a relaxing ride, bring your own bikes and set off from Sani Lodge for an unforgettable experience.

Bikes may be hired in Underberg

The annual "Sani Transfrontier Mountain Bike Challenge" is a must for adventure seekers and fitness fanatics.
Sani to C mountain bike challenge in February is a highly popular event . www.sani2c.co.za
The Sani Transfrontier Mountain bike challenge in November is a must for adventure seekers and fitness fanatics. www.drakensbergmtb.co.za

Horse Riding/ Pony Trekking
We offer a range of horserides to suit your taste, whether an experienced or novice rider. 1 hour rides, available on private farmland bordering onto the Drakensberg Park or overnight rides in Lesotho are some of the best ways to enjoy the majesty of the mountains and the superb scenery. Riders are accompanied by guides. Please check our Pony Trekking Tour and our Sehlabatebe Tour pages for some more options.

 Trout Fishing
The Southern Drakensberg is one of the finest fly-fishing areas in the country, and we can help you arrange a day's fishing.



Sani Lodge backpackersGuinea Fowl Backpackers CottageSouthern Drakensberg mountains


4 Star:Tourism Council of SA Star Grading


The Restaurant Craft shop and Internet Café open 0730 - 1700 hrs.

You will find that SANI LODGE caters for all your needs – from good food to an aromatherapy massage

  • Kitchen self catering, fully equipped
  • Lounge with cosy fireplace
  • Ablutions with hot showers and an outdoor shower with a sunset view
  • Braai (BBQ) for those clear starry nights
  • Public phone – laundry service – and Internet Café on site.
  • Food – leave your shopping bags behind


Contact Details:
Tel: 086 127 6237
Int. Tel: +27 51 924 0585


Take the N3 motorway from Johannesburg , Durban or Pietermaritzburg , until you reach the R617 turnoff to Underberg. It is 110 km from here to Underberg . In Underberg, turn right to Himeville which is 5km from Underberg. Drive on through Himeville for approximately another 4km until you reach the Sani Pass Road on your left. Sani Lodge Backpackers and Honeyguide cottage are 10.5km down this road on the left hand side. If you are coming from Port Elizabeth to Kokstad on the N2, take the R617 from Kokstad to Underberg. In Underberg turn left to Himeville which is 5km from Underberg . Drive on through Himeville for approximately another 4km until you reach the Sani Pass Road on your left. Sani Lodge Backpackers and Honeyguide cottage are 10.5km down this road on the left hand side.

Sani Lodge BackpackersHeated thatch en suite rondavelsStoneclad Group Facility