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Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Des Van Rooyen. Picture Credit: Gallo Images
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Spectacular view from on high

By Zinhle Mapumulo | May 18, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

THE Drakensberg is one of the few tourist destinations that remain a people's favourite even during a harsh winter.

Known for its competing mountains and some of the longest hiking trails in the country the Berg, as it is affectionately referred to, can be bitterly cold. But the icy weather has never deterred outdoor enthusiasts.

Over the years the Drakensberg has continued to record an increasing number of tourists all year round. April, though, is one of the busiest months because this is when the annual Splashy Fen musical festival takes place.

The four-day concert, boasting the country's hottest acts, attracts thousands of people to a farm near Underberg in the southern Drakensberg.

Lodges and hotels around this region are always full to capacity during this time.

This year I was lucky to have been part of this great music spectacle. And, damn, white folk do know how to jig. For once in my life I partied the night away without a care in the world.

Needless to say, I regretted it the next morning when I had to travel to the Lesotho border through the tormenting Sani Pass.

Sani Pass is not as sunny as the name suggests. In fact, I think it is frightening and definitely not for the faint-hearted. But it is nevertheless a place that should not be missed on a trip to the Berg.

Sani Pass is a spectacular mountain road that serves as another entry point into Lesotho from South Africa's Natal Drakensberg Park.

The road has many twists and turns and is only accessible with a 4X4 vehicle, which must be driven by somebody who is calm and knows what he or she is doing.

The best part of the bumpy and scary journey is when you reach the Oh My Gosh! corner. One thing that you should not do when you reach this corner is to look down. As tempting as it might be, please do not look down. I did and I will never, ever do it again.

The corner at the top of the mountain is nerve-racking driving. It is sharp and narrow and the gravel road does not help either. From this angle you are able to see the route you had travelled and the horrific cliffs in between the mountains.

I was told that in winter when it snows the corner is more dangerous than it looks, which is why it is called Oh My Gosh! corner.

After that mind-boggling moment, yours truly was happy to reach the top of Sani Pass and the cosy Sani Top Chalet. It is home to the highest pub in Africa at 2874m above sea level. At the pub we had a scrumptious lunch, complemented it with Lesotho's Maluti beer.

After lunch it was back to the Sani Pass Hotel and Leisure Resort through the Sani Pass. This time we all knew that the ride was about to get even uglier because we were descending.

My eyes were already closed by the time we reached Oh My Gosh! corner. I was not surprised that I was not the only one who feared death in the 4X4.

Fortunately our driver was experienced and very cautious. He brought us safely back to the hotel we had stayed at for two days.

The hotel nestles in the beautiful Mkhomazana valley at the foot of Sani Pass. It offers breathtaking views of the Drakensberg.

People who want to pass on the Sani Pass experience can engage in a number of activities offered at the hotel, including horse riding, quad biking, fly fishing and hiking through spectacular country.


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