Things To Do in UnderbergSani Pass MTB Trail
Where? Sani Lodge Backpackers, Sani Pass Road, 10.5km along Sani Pass, Drakensberg, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
When? Daylight hours.
How? Call +27 (0)33 702-0330
How much? Price on request
More? See website
Where: Sani Pass, nearest town Himeville (start from Sani Lodge)
Level: difficult to extremely difficult (not for children)
Type of route: 72 – 80 km return, this gravel pass acts as the border crossing between South Africa and Lesotho
Best: snowfall during winter
This is the same course as the Sani Pass Classic MTB ride – a challenging ride with incredible scenery. But you will want to pack warm clothing as the weather is liable to change within minutes; expect any one of the four seasons in one day (you are not even safe in summer, as severe electric storms are par for the course).
The pass is one continuous climb, particularly the first leg, although there are intermittent downhills that allow you to collect your breath.
The worst part is the 8 km up to the Lesotho border, particularly the last 2 km, but the pub at the top (the highest pub in Africa) is considered worth the slog.
For those for whom 8 kilometres consistent uphill is not enough torture, there is a further 10 km plateau ride (if you don't want the uphill, drive your bikes up to the plateau on the back of your bakkie to access this rather windy ride) followed by yet another climb up Black Mountain Pass.
The latter pass is for hard-core riders as the air is thin up here and it will take about five hours, according to Mountain Biking Trails of South Africa, just to get up to the top, versus under an hour to get back down.
If riding up Sani Pass is one of your burning ambitions plan to ride it in the near future. In May 2014 an official tarring of the pass was sanctioned by government, despite a long opposition campaign from tour operators and the Underberg community (who realise that it is the gravel pass that interests people; once it is tarred it will lose its attraction).
Remember your passport for the border crossing.