After my week in Johannesburg where I felt virtually trapped in my hostel (but with some relief - after our cross-African roadtrip I desperately needed space and downtime to decompress) I was so ready to get out and explore again.
With my mission of visiting every single country (and some others) in the world, I booked a guided tour from JoBurg down to Lesotho, the other tiny little fully-enclaved-by-South-Africa country just like Eswatini. The company was excellent; it was with a private tour guide who collected me at 6am from my hostel in JoBurg on a rainy Friday morning and drove me all the way down through eastern South Africa towards Lesotho.
Along the way, we stopped for some beautiful excursions in the Drakensberg Mountains, a wild and expansive mountain range traversing both Lesotho and South African land. From there, we headed toward Underberg where we'd be spending the two nights of the tour at the delightful KarMichael Farm. Admittedly, I thought I'd be spending more time in Lesotho than just a tour of the Sani Pass, but I still thoroughly enjoyed my trip and Underberg was a peaceful and sweet place to rest.
For eating in Underberg, we had breakfast both mornings at the family-run Whistling Goat which offers a delightful, seasonal rotating cafe and mouthwatering brunch menu. For dinner, I highly recommend the Stone House Kitchen, with a daily set menu that was luxurious perfection.
On the Saturday of my tour, I was met at my accommodations by another guide from Roof of Africa Tours with a 4x4 vehicle who'd be taking me and five other travelers up the epic Sani Pass from Underberg into Lesotho.
Originally, the visit from Underberg to Lesotho was a lengthy and tough drive, but the first 35km was recently paved over, making for a beautiful ride into the mountains all the way up until the South African border post at the foot of the pass. The final 8km however between the two nations' border posts is still completely gravel and really quite a treacherous trek. You can only drive this route with a 4x4 and it's strongly advised not to try to attempt it on your own.
Once you've passed through border control in South Africa, your guide will begin to drive the steep switchbacks climbing up the pass. The weather can be unpredictable up here so bring a warm, waterproof jacket. We had gorgeous conditions on the way up and were able to see for many miles across the pass, but on our way back down, heavy rain made the drive even more sketchy.
We reached the top of the Sani Pass and entered the little kingdom of Lesotho, nicknamed the Kingdom in the Sky. While there, we had the opportunity to visit a local Lesotho village and try freshly baked bread and learn a little about their customs. Their huts are built round and sturdy against the harsh winds and rain that are the typical weather of this high altitude nation.
We finished the trip with a pub lunch at the Highest Pub in Africa which, sitting at 2874 metres above sea level, was definitely a neat experience although the food was pretty average. I can appreciate though how difficult it is to get supplies up there!