Sani Pass

What the hell is that sound? There’s something outside the window. “You hear that?”, “Yeah, what is that?”, “Let’s play: Monkeys or Geese!” It’s geese. Alright geese, we’re up we’re up. Sun’s just rising, gonna get a nice and early start today.

Next move: Turn all notifications off for every app on my phone. Should have done this already really. Don’t care about work, email, the news, nothing. This thing is now for pictures, directions and info only. Feels good as soon as I do it.

We walk over to the lodge and are the first ones in the breakfast area. Looks like they’re just getting things set up. Nice patio off the dining area here

Peter is testing out a gimbal camera stabilizer as Dean walks in. “Howzit, guys? Ah, you’re gonna put me on National Geographic?”, “Haha nope, but we do owe you some money for drinks last night”, “You do? Most people just start a tab. Some stay for a week and open a tab”, “Whoa, way too dangerous for the likes of us.”

The Farmhouse Breakfast option looks great, Peter and I both go for it. Yep, it’s bomb. The fire’s cracking, bird’s chirping, the radio is playing… is that Chariots of Fire? What a mornin. Time to make open faced sandwiches from this grubbery.

Dean catches us surveying the hot sauce situation, “Oh, you like something that will tickle your belly?” and he comes back with a couple of bottles from his private stash. “Something special here for you guys. This green one is especially good.”

Oh yeah, this green sauce is the cat’s meow. Tangy and spicy enough to get the nose running but not kill the food. Love it, must find it.

Dean asks about our plans for the day and we tell him we’ve decided we liked his idea of jumping in a 4×4 and doing a quick trip up the Sani Pass into Lesotho, grab a beer at the highest pub in Africa, come back, and maybe head into Coffee Bay for the night.

“Ah yes, excellent plan. I’ve got a little pamphlet here of a company. I could give them a ring if you like?”, “Yes, please do.”

Dean goes and grabs the pamphlet and hands it to us to take a look while he calls. Yep, this looks like a good time.

Dean comes back with bad news. They’re all booked up. “But you could go into Underberg and look around. There are lots of companies there to choose from.” Alright that sounds like a plan.

We finish up breaky and ask Dean and Belinda if they’d mind grabbing a pic with us out on the patio before we take off. This instead turns into a solid hour of us chatting it up. These two are just too nice, we could kill the day gabbing with em.

We say goodbye and they wish us a safe trip. We exchange email to keep in touch, they want us to send them pics of our trip. So nice.

Wish we had time to hike up the river a bit but we’ve got a solid 20 hours to Cape Town from here so we’ve gotta keep moving if we’re gonna make it in time to rendezvous with the other Detectives in three days time. I grab one last shot of our kick ass cabin before saying goodbye.

Peter drove yesterday so it’s my turn today. Time to see if I still have any muscle memory for driving a right-hand drive stick from the Mongol Rally. Oh yes, the weird reverse stick position. Aaaaand stall. Ok ok, one more time. Stall. “Is it me or does the clutch suck?”, “Bit of both probably. The clutch does suck though.” I got this. Yep, I do. We’re off!

Great drive through a pass. Constant elevation up to a place called Boston and on into the town of Underburg.

Liquor store! Ok, we absolutely have to drink an Underberg in Underberg. Closed? No. Fucking. Way.

We cruise around town and there are a number of shops advertising the Sani Pass. We stop into one and… nope. There’s a sign on the door saying they’ve already gone up the pass. Another one looks… closed. Shit. We go to the tourist info center and grab some other pamphlets for excursion shops in the area. Call them up but no answer. Hmmmm well what the fuck do we do now?

We head into the next town a bit. There’s another adventure spot but they also have a sign that they’ve gone up the pass already. Looks like we’re out of luck. That’s a bummer. Peter and I grab a coffee, hop on their wifi and try to figure something else out. Well, we could just go to the pass and see if we can get up it. Maybe there’ll be more rental places at the base or something there we can figure out. That sounds like our best bet.

We take off for Sani Pass. You start to see it from a ways off, a tall snow-covered peak. Amazing that this plateau holds the whole country of Lesotho up there.

Aaaaaaand there’s absolutely nothing at the base of this thing so there goes that idea. Guess we’ll just head up and see how far the Polo will take us. If I wanted to jump right into mastering the right-hand drive stick shift today, this shit road was a good way to do it. Potholes and rocks, some steep inclines and switch backs, I’m getting it all here on the way to Sani Pass.

It’s slow going and Lesotho just doesn’t seem to be getting any closer. Good view from here though so we stop and snappy snap.

We hop back in and go a little further. This entire road to Sani Pass is under construction. It’s chewed up. Rocks knocking on our undercarriage. The car rental company would freak if they saw us doing this shit. A car going the other direction motions for us to stop. “They’re turning all the vehicles around. It’s snowed in.” Another truck goes by and they’re just shaking their heads at us. We’re the only non-4×4 on this road. Yeah this is pretty stupid, if anything happens to the car or tires up here we’ll be fucked.

We get a little further and around the corner but the next good view is a long way away and the car is definitely gonna get fucked. Better take advantage of the good light now. We’re pretty much resigned to the fact that we won’t be getting to Lesotho today.

But on the flip side this view is mighty astounding. We climb up a construction mound, over some concrete cylinders and voila.

Selfie stick!

Peter waits for clouds to pass and shed some light on the pass.

Narcopiggy gets some good ones too

Alright, I think that’s all we can really do. Now let’s just hope the Polo doesn’t collapse on the way back down this thing.

Looking back, we’ve actually come quite a distance. It’ll probably take over an hour to get out of here again.

We put Lesotho in the rear view. But now we’ve got another good reason to come back!

Hopefully we’ll get to Coffee Bay before nightfall, Dean warned us this morning that the roads in there are terrible.

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