In The Heights
Skyways|November 2019
Skip the country for a day by heading up the magnificent Sani Pass
Bruce Dennill

No rain in nine months, but now a 90% probability of precipitation on the day when I will be in a vehicle driving up a rocky road with a massive drop-off on one side. Oh, good.

On the drive to the bottom of the Sani Pass, we pause opposite a golf course to watch a quartet of mountain reedbuck cropping the greens (or, in drought conditions, perhaps more accurately the ‘browns’). A little further on, just after the (current) end of the tar section, are a couple of ruined buildings – the remains of an old trading post originally run by a Scotsman named John White-Smith. This touch of entrepreneurial spirit played a large role in the route now followed by the Pass being where it is. Lesotho herdsmen and farmers would come down the mountain with their mules to have their wares – mostly wool – weighed in one building, where they would receive a credit to spend on food and other items in the store opposite.

The Pass traverses the Maloti Drakensberg Park World Heritage Site, which means both that the scenery is utterly gorgeous and that the management of the route and its surrounds is challenging. Some of that is easy, sensible stuff, such as leaving dead alien black wattle trees standing (it would be an easy extra step to cut them down) because birds have existing nests in their branches.

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