Sani Pass - end of an era

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Port Elizabeth
    Thanked: 2

    Default Sani Pass - end of an era

    My last trip up Sani Pass in April 2018 was a lot of fun, with the road being badly washed away in places, but then I was in a vehicle that was capable of handling it. The few plat karre that started the trip with enthusiasm, were reluctantly obliged to turn around before the RSA border post - but this is about to end.

    Work on "upgrading" the road was well under way and for those like me who enjoy the rougher roads, it was clearly the indication of the end of an era. I believe the road is to be tarred up the the RSA border post. Not sure about what will happen after that.

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Thanked: 849

    Default Re: Sani Pass - end of an era

    In that state for more than 4 years now.
    Maybe there is traction on the project now.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2018
    Thanked: 345

    Default Re: Sani Pass - end of an era

    We went up Sani Pass a couple of years back and had a great time.
    It was just before winter started. Bright sunshine, nippy wind, a perfect opportunity to eat homemade bread in the village a few miles past the Lesotho border post, and a great lunch and ales at the pub before venturing down again.

    Even then there was talk of the whole pass being tarred, but due to inclement weather, delays with funding, credible contractors ect. it has never really gotten off the ground.
    Every few years they dig a couple of culverts, place pipes and nothing much after that.
    Perhaps next year just before elections the road building/ tarring will begin again.
    I met some crazy people.... They made me their leader.

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  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Thanked: 849

    Default Re: Sani Pass - end of an era

    The real challenge of Sani is during the winter months.
    I dare to say, the project once completed will make it more challenging, not less so - in winter time with snow\ice on the road.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Thanked: 245

    Default Re: Sani Pass - end of an era

    Sani is going to be a great tar pass to drive. A pass that gets us 4x4's and dual bikes further into and closer to other great gravel passes.

    BUT in the future once tarred, on weekends during good weather, especially Sundays, this pass is going to be an absolutely nightmare.

    Imagine all the Harley Davison's and old men in sports cars driving the pass. Imagine the H Davison's trying to get around the corners, footrests scraping on each corner, all while trying to keep in formation, the pass on Sundays will be a disaster. Busier and slower than joberg traffic.

    In the 80's early 90's, for more than 12 years we had a permanent family weekend booked in July, we booked the complete Sani top. Those days no bedding or food, we even took up our own wood. The pub was a self service trust bar or you brought your own.

    If more than two vehicles came up on a Sunday the pass was busy. Today its a traffic jam.

    Its no challenge any more, in the 80's it was a challenge most days. Even now with rain or snow "most" days the pass is doable. And yes standard cars got up in the good weather days.

    4x4's were not what they are today. With the new suspensions and Traction Controls and difflocks and brakes its easier, the old suspensions with leaf springs the switchbacks was a three or four point turn. One reversed right to the edge with the bin right over the edge to make the next turn. Engines always over heated, most vehicles were under powered and battling with the altitude and not to many turbo's.

    So for me the "end of an era" has already happened. Very sad to see the progress and the pass slowly being tamed. some goes for the rest of Africa.

    Look at ponta, now anybody can get there.

    Ponta and Sani the people that travelled there in the past, where 4x4 adventure people, its just not the same anymore.

    Sadly it's an "END OF AN ERA" for many, many 4x4 places.
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  7. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Thanked: 29

    Default Re: Sani Pass - end of an era

    I have been going to Lesotho for 20 years and remember the road as dirt from Himeville to Mokhotlong.
    Driving it in a 1967 S2A with drum brakes, no power steering and no brake booster was an experience.
    The leaf springs rattled your bones after a hundred kms or so.
    Seeing it change over the years has come with mixed feelings but change is inevitable as they say!
    There is even a Shoprite in Mokhotlong now! And tarred roads.

    But remember that as things have progressed, so have vehicles!
    Traction control, air-cons, ABS, EBD, airbags and the list goes on.
    So while we don't want them to tar Sani Pass, we love the development of our vehicles.
    But I guess that's how we are.

    As K-9 mentioned, the tarring of Sani will get us closer to some other gravel roads.
    Maybe we need to buy some really old 4x4s so we can get more of the experience

    My thoughts!
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    Last edited by Dave Robb; 2018/06/19 at 01:49 PM.

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  9. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Thanked: 1018

    Default Re: Sani Pass - end of an era

    The end of an era is not a bad thing, as, like others said above, it opens a new chapter.

    The biggest negative I see is the increased traffic there. Sani pub will definitely not mind that. Nor will the tow truck operators, who will be busy in winter dragging cars back up slopes after they encountered black ice.

    Face it, for most who have been 4x4ing for a while, Sani is no longer a challenge, even when the pass is in a bad state. I certainly don't go up because of the change to engage diff lock and the 4x4 challenge, but because of the scenery.

  10. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Port Elizabeth
    Thanked: 421

    Default Re: Sani Pass - end of an era

    Same in Zambia.

    We had a sandy road from Sesheke to Mongu that was a direction more than a road.

    Then Came the Chinese TAR
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