Sani Lodge Backpackers
Sani Lodge Backpackers was started by Simone and Russell (author of "A Backpacker's Guide to Lesotho") in 1992 and they take great pride in taking personal care of their guests to this day. Together they have years of travel experience and can thus offer practical advice both for travel and sightseeing in the area and further afield in Lesotho and South Africa.
The Lodge provides a wide range of clean, comfortable accommodation deep in the majestic Southern Drakensberg Mountains of South Africa and is situated on a well-established farm on the Sani Pass, the gateway to the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho and just 16 km from the SA border post. Sani Lodge is a peaceful country haven, offering rural charm, superb views, fresh farm milk from our Jersey cows, homemade yoghurt, ice cream, farm butter, home grown organic fruit turned into delicious preserves and jams, farm cheese , legendary chocolate cake and home-cooked meals topped by a "home away from home" atmosphere. Let the stress of city life, along with its maddening sounds and pollutants, simply melt away, as you kick off your shoes and inhale pure air in these tranquil surrounds, where pristine nature is right on the doorstep.
"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in tune once more." (Burroughs 1837 - 1921)
Sani Lodge's eco-friendly gardens have been planted with indigenous shrubs, trees and flowering plants in order to attract prolific birdlife and butterflies and provide shelter for resident duiker and reedbuck. So you can gaze at the mountains by day, and arm yourselves with binoculars for some surprisingly good bird watching and then cast your eyes upwards at the starry heavens by night, whilst listening to the whistle of the reedbuck or snort of the grey rhebok. Our policy of no pets being allowed, no quad bikes on the property, and no television, is in keeping with the credence of nature preservation and tranquillity here. Rediscover the lost art of stimulating conversation too! Sani Lodge is a strictly non-smoking establishment. No pets are allowed on the property.
All photographs shown above are of Sani Lodge, its views and Drakensberg Adventures activity tours. There are four distinct seasons here; Summer from Nov Feb with hot days, afternoon thunderstorms, waterfalls and rivers in spate, flowers in abundance, birding at its peak . Autumn from March May with cooler nights and late flowering orange Leonotis, green bedecked mountains. Winter from June August with raw sienna brown grassveld, eland descending to lower altitudes for sweeter grass, cold nights and dry ,sunny days with a possibility of snowfall on the high peaks . Spring from Sep November with flowering bulbs bursting forth, new buds on trees, return of migrant birds and longer days. Each season has its charm and uniqueness.
History Of The Farm
Part of the property was once owned by Mokhotlong Mountain Transport, who pioneered the Sani Pass and into Lesotho in land-rovers in the late 50's. A photographic display of David Alexander in these early days is in the Giant's Cup Cafe and Crafts, just 50 metres from the Lodge.
The other part of the property once belonged to the Mackenzie's, who are well known pioneering farmers in the district.
Budget accommodation ranges from camping, 4 small bed dormitories with 2 bunk beds in each( shared ablutions), 5 double/twin standard rooms ( shared ablutions), 3 en-suite heated thatch rondavels, 1 small rondavel en suite for a single person and 3 family self-catering cottages, to a large group facility. Bedding is provided in all rooms.
There is a modern, fully equipped, centrally located, self-catering kitchen, and new social braai area.
The central lodge offers a cosy open fireplace and private reading room, whilst the sundowner veranda and eco deck facing the sun setting over the mountains of Lesotho, is the meeting place for friendly international chatter. The lovely swimming pool is available to guests staying at Sani Lodge and in the cottages on site.
Ablutions are aplenty, clean and airy, with the outdoor shower providing unforgettable mountain views.
Campers have their own separate ablutions with hot showers and a basic kitchen. There are no power points.
Based at Sani Lodge is Drakensberg Adventures Tour Company owned and run by Russell and Simone, which has been in operation since 1998, offering superior and memorable action packed tours with experienced, highly qualified guides. Lesotho tours going up Sani Pass are specially designed for the intrepid traveller, range from 1 full day to 6 days and go as far as Khatse Dam. The trips focus on hiking, villages, pony trekking and Basotho culture. There are also informative guided day walks to excellent Bushman Paintings in the vicinity, horse riding, and tailor-made guided hiking trips with qualified mountain guides.
Special 3 and 4 night packages available include dormitory accommodation (may be upgraded to doubles/en-suite rooms), all meals and tours. Unbeatable value! New volunteering packages available which include assisting with teaching English at the local primary school. Volunteering via the package or for a few hours is a life changing experience we encourage everyone to participate in. All prices for tours may be obtained from contacting Sani Lodge Backpackers directly.
There is something for the whole family in this beautiful area; There is a swimming pool at the main lodge available to all guests staying at the lodge or in the family cottages. Also available now is a large social braai area for groups at the lodge as well as an eco deck facing the mountains
Once you are here, you need not step back into your vehicle as the Lodge is perfectly situated for exploring the wilderness area on foot. It is at the start of the famous Giant's Cup Trail, as well as numerous other wilderness hikes into the mountains. Climb to Hodgson's Peaks (3256m), dip in crystal clear streams and idyllic mountain pools, see reedbuck, eland, rhebok, duiker, baboon, rock hyrax, bearded and cape vulture, and photograph or sketch abundant wild flowers. This is the place poets and artists dream of.
Try your hand at trout / bass fishing on nearby dams, get out your binoculars to watch the prolific birdlife, go mountain biking, raft the rivers in summer, play tennis, squash or golf nearby, take a stroll along the farm nature trail with illustrated guide booklet compiled by Russell and Simone or enjoy a toasted sandwich / pancake whilst using the free WI-FI at the Giant's Cup Cafe and Crafts on site.
You may visit the dairy to try your hand at milking and then sample the creamy Jersey milk or observe butter being made in our ingenious stream powered butter churn in summer. Additional on-site facilities include a guest laundry service.
The Giant's Cup Cafe and Crafts now has an indigenous nursery created by Russell and selling local indigenous shrubs, trees, flowers. The gardens on the entire property are planted with indigenous and are named by tags for easy identification
All meals are available in the on-site Giant's Cup Cafe open daily , offering farm breakfasts, homemade cakes, pancakes, toasted sandwiches ,trout and cheese platters, milkshakes, plunger coffee and teas. All of our food is prepared on site just like in the good ol' days! The craft shop offers a wide range of crafts sourced from small enterprises in South Africa, Lesotho and Zimbabwe , Fair Trade tea/ coffee/ chocolate, books , maps, as well as a selection of home industry foodstuffs including our own dairy produce (butter, ice-cream, yoghurt and fresh milk) and organic jams from our own fruit trees , books, maps, and even a campers corner for supplies. Dinner needs to be ordered in advance and confirmed along with the accommodation booking. It is served at 6.30pm. Breakfast may be ordered the night before. Free WIFI available at The Giant's Cup for guests of Sani Lodge or cottages.
The lodge is child friendly, has a camp cot available for small children, offers children portions for dinners, and has a playground for children. Please note that there is a swimming pool now so bring your childrens safety tubes. Toffee the daschund dog , and Tana the loveable cat are always entertaining for children. Our beautiful , happy Jersey cows are milked twice daily and in calf season, the small calves are hand fed with their mother's fresh milk. The family guided nature trail is fun for all. Children pay half rates in cottages and for camping only. Dorm beds, standard rooms and rondavels are normal price
Sani Lodge Backpackers has been certified with FAIR TRADE IN TOURISM since 2011 and graded as a four star Backpackers with the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa. The Lodge is a member of SAYTC and SATSA . The lodge was awarded a Certificate of Excellence in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 by Trip Advisor .
In 2016 Africa Responsible Tourism Awards awarded Sani Lodge Silver in the Category of Poverty Reduction
- Awards & Accreditations As Claimed By The Establishment
- Tourism Grading - 4 Stars
- bar fridge
- bar/cocktail lounge
- big game (less than 30km)
- Bird watching
- braai / barbecue - communal
- braai / barbecue - communal and onsite
- braai / barbecue - onsite
- cycling trails
- fishing (less than 3km)
- free toiletries
- Full English breakfast served in the dining room daily
- gas braai / barbecue
- golf (less than 5km)
- guided nature walks
- horse riding (less than 5km)
- internet facilities
- kitchen (fully equipped)
- kitchen communal
- laundry facilities (less than 2km)
- laundry facilities onsite
- linen & towels provided
- lock-up safe
- Malaria free
- microwave (some units)
- mountain biking
- nature trail (less than 10km)
- nature trail (less than 2km)
- nature trail onsite
- outdoor pool
- packed lunches
- parking all onsite
- private entrance
- private entrance - outside rooms
- private pool
- restaurant (less than 300m)
- restaurant (less than 5km)
- restaurant (walking distance)
- restaurant onsite
- rock art (less than 20km)
- sun deck
- table tennis
- tea / coffee making facilities
- tennis court (less than 5km)
- wi-fi / hotspot
An easy 3 hour drive from Durban central or 6 and1/2 hours from Johannesburg.
Take the N3 motorway from Johannesburg or Durban until you reach the R 617 turnoff to Underberg. In Underberg, turn right to Himeville which is 5 km from Underberg. Drove on through Himeville for approximately another 4km until you reach the Sani Pass Road on your left which is tarred. Sani Lodge is 10.5 km down this road on the left hand side. Please park in the Sani Lodge main parking area and report to reception in the main office upon arrival. You will then be directed to the accommodation you have booked.
Transfers from and to Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Kokstad. Please call us to find out more about these options.