Trekker’s Hostel Highlights: Sani Lodge Backpackers, KwaZulu Natal
Set in the heart of the Southern Drakensberg mountains and just a hop, skip and jump away from Lesotho, this backpackers is a fantastic stop. From the comfy common room with fireplace, kitchen and tons of games, to the outdoor shower and nature trail on the property, there is much to do – and that’s not even mentioning the numerous tours and overnights on offer.
In the evening you can sit and relax on the covered porch and watch the sun set over Hodgson’s Peak while planning your five day trail over to Giant’s Cup. Or if you would prefer to sit and have a cup of tea with Russell (the owner), you can discuss your trip to Lesotho – he has loads of info and has even written a book, A Backpacker’s Guide to Lesotho.
Another option is to discover the hidden paintings left on rocks by the Bushmen who used to inhabit these mountains on the Lodge’s day tour. Be prepared with sturdy shoes, a hat and water.
My main reason for coming to this little spot of heaven was for the overnight trip to Lesotho – the “Mountain Kingdom”! Unfortunately for those of us travelling on the Baz Bus it took some ingenuity to get here. Baz Bus has changed its route, saying that not enough people are heading to the Southern Drakensberg, and now it only goes as far as the KZN town of Pietermaritzburg. This is a real bummer, because I feel that this section of the Drakensberg offers some of the most amazing sights and sounds to be found in the majestic mountains – not to mention a treat for the daring, the drive up the infamous Sani Pass.
As a result, you need to organize a ride with Sani Pass Carriers, R125 one way, a little more than most are wanting to spend but well worth it in the end. Luckily for me I had a friend who picked me up in Pietermaritzburg and drove me, not only to the Lodge, but all the way up into Lesotho, just to get our passports stamped (we made it back to the border with three minutes to spare!).
The dorms are comfortable and clean, the staff are fantastic, the dinners are real good old-fashioned South African cooking at its best and the (very famous) chocolate cake is to die for! People from all walks of life come to this place – as opposed to the coastal hostels where mostly surfers and beach babes hang out. At Sani Pass, you get a wide range of folks and meet great friends.
So my tip of the week is this: go out of your way, visit this spot, hunt for bushmen paintings, spend a night next to puff-adders (!) on the Castle Cup hike or zig-zag your way to Lesotho and have a drink at the highest bar in Southern Africa.
Till next time, keep trekkin’…