Revamp of Lesotho’s Sani Top Lodge

Posted by Alan Ramsay on 10 April 2012

Fans of Sani Pass will be interested to hear that the Sani Pass Top Chalet, now renamed Sani Top Lodge, is under new ownership and a R1m-facelift of the present accommodation, restaurant and renowned “highest pub in Africa” is already underway – with planning in place for a new lodge to be opened within three years.

Sited at 2 874m at the top of the pass, just beyond the Lesotho border post – where heavy mists can make  summer weather chilly, winters are extremely cold and only Vodacom cell phone reception is operative – the lodge has been a favourite destination of not just South Africans but also of many foreigners. “But many of them are just day or one-night visitors, so we are signposting the hiking routes in the area, upgrading the bedroom furnishings, extending the restaurant, adding two extra rooms to the current nine, all to four-star standard, and expanding the backpacker accommodation to encourage longer stays,” Brian Maher, the general manager, told me.

Tariffs range from R820 for dinner, bed and breakfast per person sharing,  R185 per bed for backbackers for whom breakfast is R100 and dinner R200, typical light meals are priced from R55 to R110 and 375ml beers at R18 to R25 for imported beers.

In March, when we made the ascent, the last two kilometres of the pass had to be driven in low range, four wheel drive, such was the condition of the surface – while mountain bikers and hikers passed at a similar pace.   There was still talk of the pass being “tarred” but a local conservation expert commented that it was more likely to be a concrete surface with stone supporting walls.

Stage two of the takeover comprises the development of the new 36-bed lodge, which has been in the planning for three years by the owners, Ends of the Earth Lodges, a Lesotho-based group of investors.  Brian Maher, the manager – and also a shareholder in the lodge – is a former operations executive with the South African group, Orion Hotels, hotel manager in Shanghai, then property and hotel developer in both South Africa and Nigeria, before being asked to join the Lesotho group to develop the new lodge.

“Our real challenge is getting supplies to the lodge,” he points out. “Permits are required to move South African-sourced vegetables from Mokhotlong, but the permits are only available one at a time, every two and a half hours!” he explains. Then the food has to come by taxi to the lodge. Meat is sourced from Kokstad and Underberg, wines and spirits come from local suppliers and beer brewed at Lesotho Breweries in Maseru comes direct, though supplies are erratic. Wood, coal and gas come from Mokhotlong, the latter at considerably lower prices than in South Africa, the demand for which will be reduced with the introduction of solar lighting systems.


For reservations at Sani Top Lodge, visit, email [email protected] or telephone the Randburg reservations office on 078-634-7496 or direct to the lodge on 073-541-8620.




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