Sunday, January 24, 2016

Turning a Day of Nothing into Something: Sani Pass

I start school this Monday the 25th.  I didn’t really have any plans for Saturday so I figured I would head to Mokhotlong town and take some overdue candid street photos.  I was walking down the road trying to hitch hike, when I finally got someone to stop.  He was an Afrikaner named Evert.  Evert was a fellow Mechanical Engineer (yes caps) and was currently working as a project manager for the Letsing diamond mine.  As we were heading down the road I asked him where he was going.  He said he had never been to Sani Pass and was heading there for the day.  Since he was returning later that day I decided to tag along.  

The Sani Pass road was just finished three months ago.  We stopped at an overlook near the summit and took some photos.  The road was funded by the Chinese (fishy) but it appears they did an excellent job with construction.  

A minute later and we passed the summit of the road.  For the awful, imperial system using, plebeians reading this blog, 3,240 meters = 10,630 feet.  

We quickly encountered clouds on the other side of the pass.  Visibility was low but due to the new road, the lines and shoulders were easy to spot.  I know, I know, we’re driving on the wrong side.  It’s an impossible argument to win.

Finally at Sani Pass after a roughly 50 Km trip.  The pass lies right on the South African boarder.  Again 2,873 meters = 9,426 feet, which is pretty high for a boarder crossing. 

Sani Pass is famous for having the highest pub on the continent and I would be lying if I said this wasn’t Evert and my intended destination.  

The porch was on the edge of a cliff.  At the time it was engulfed in a cloud with maybe a 50 foot visibility.  It gave the place an ominous feel.  The inside was quite comfortable with a wood stove burning in the corner and plenty of casual couch sitting.  

Evert (pictured) and I decided to grab stools at the well stocked bar and enjoyed a few beers together.  We drank a Namibian beer called Windhoek, which was quite refreshing.  The bar itself was silly expensive and was filled with Afrikaners on vacation and tours.  The South African side is unpaved and is a popular destination for 4x4 drivers.  

The place had a whimsical theme about it and it was fun to read all of the signatures and stickers.  After a while we decided it was time to head out as Evert had to travel 120 Km past my site.

There were some kids outside playing some homemade instruments.   

On the way back we stopped at another bar in the middle of nowhere.  There was one small sign on the side of the road so we turned off and drove the 3 Km to check it out.  There was a stream crossing required to reach the bar.  It was strange because of how nice it was.  We were the only ones there out of 60 or so seats.  Evert tried his best to explain to the bartender about the importance of advertising but I think his sound advice fell on deaf ears.  

I hope every unplanned day ends up this way.  I exchanged information with Evert and he said he’ll give me a call whenever he makes another day trip.  


- Joel


  1. If there was a LIKE button for this post, I would definitely tag it. What an awesome day! Good people, good beer, good stories. God is good.
    - Mark

  2. Keep the posts coming its nice to read your adventures, and that one pic looks like the movie the mist.