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Sani, Mokhotlong et al

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Sani, Mokhotlong et al

Just returned from a road trip to Lesotho, so here are my thoughts for anyone else planning such a trip.

Having never driven 'off - road' before, nor mounted anything more challenging than the roadside curb, I was a little daunted by the prospects of the Sani Pass and beyond, but relying (perhaps foolishly) on the innate bravado that comes with a Y chromosome, all went well.

Set off from PMB at 6.30am in a borrowed Toyota Prado, arrived at the SA border by 8.30. That part of the route had been clearly worked on compared with an aborted trip I tried to make in an unsuitable vehicle in January. From the border to the top was straightforward - never felt dangerous. The road is very passable at the moment; even saw a couple of minivan/taxis ascending without trouble. The views are, needless to say, stunning (http://youtu.be/_CMeO6u8GqU).

The road conditions thereafter where considerably worse. We drove via Mokhotlong & Butha-Buthe, arriving at Maseru at 7pm the same evening. A long day, but thoroughly enjoyable with enough stops on the way for food, photos etc. The track between Sani Pass and Mokhotlong was untarred with no obvious drainage - average speed 20kph - descent through the valley to Mokhotlong is very dramatic. From there onto Butha-Buthe the route was tarred but for most of it you really wondered why they'd bothered: More pot holes than tar - definitely the most uncomfortable part of the journey. The last 2 hours approaching Maseru, the road was in good condition.

Managed to get a day trip to Semonkong in as well - 3 hours straight from Maseru - 4x4 not essential, but very much recommended particularly if it's raining as a lot of the road is just dirt hills. The falls nearby are worth taking in.

My only advise is drive slowly.


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South Africa
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1. Re: Sani, Mokhotlong et al

Thank you for your comments. The Lesotho Highlands are certainly worth visiting.

Perhaps of interest: Mokhotlong used to be the remotest Outpost in the British Empire. Sani Pass is the 2nd steepest road pass in the world and, the road that passes Thabana Ntlengyana at the top of Black Mountain Pass (approx 10 kms from Sani Top en route to Mokhotlong) is the 3rd highest road in the world. Thabana Ntlenyana is of course the highest point south of Kilimonjaro!.

Preston, Lancashire
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2. Re: Sani, Mokhotlong et al

We too have just returned from a road trip around Lesotho. Similar experiences and views on road conditions around Sani. The pass is currently in good condition and it is the road to Mothotlong that is much more challenging in places but ok with a 4x4. and definately worth the effort to get there. We spent a week in the country as part of a longer trip and it our view was the best part of the holiday - totally unspoilt and very humbling.

Regarding the trip to Semonkong would say a 4x4 is essential. The trip back from Semonkong to Roma was in sunny conditions and uneventful. The trip to Semonkong just 3 days earlier was a totally different matter. After a full day and a half of heavy rain, parts of the road were extremy muddy (we passed a stranded 4x4) and would have been completly impassible in a saloon car. The trip took over 3 1/2 hours just from Roma and an hour after we arrived at Semonkong still in heavy rain the bridge to the camp was closed. As Mike has indicated weather conditions can change rapidly.

Mokhotlong, Lesotho
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3. Re: Sani, Mokhotlong et al

Road conditions will be improved in the very near future.

Lusaka, Zambia
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4. Re: Sani, Mokhotlong et al


We just came back from Lesotho. Here is what we did and the road conditions:

- Maseru to Semonkong: New tar road, ideal conditions

- Roma to Thaba Tseka: Tar road, quite OK

- Thaba Tseka to Katse: Gravel road, quite OK, we did the trip in one hour with a 4x4

- Thaba Tseka to Mokhotlong (A3): Gravel road, becomes hardcore at some point, 4x4 only

- Mokhotlong to Sani Top (A31): New tar road, ideal conditions

- Sani Top to SA border: 4x4 recommended especially if it rains, but less hardcore than A3 (downward in 30min)

Hope it helps, dont count on locals to give you any information, they often don't know.

Edited: 15 December 2015, 20:28
Roodepoort, South...
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5. Re: Sani, Mokhotlong et al


We planning to do the Sani Pass from Lesotho Katse Dam down to Sani Pass.

Has anyone done this route lately. I would appreciate any suggestions/cautions etc.


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6. Re: Sani, Mokhotlong et al

Hi, we are planning the trip from Sani top to Katze. Does anyone have times and recommended routes between these two stops. We are traveling in a 4x4

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7. Re: Sani, Mokhotlong et al

Hi, we are planning the trip from Sani top to Katze. Does anyone have times and recommended routes between these two stops. We are traveling in a 4x4

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