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Sip on a frosty pint at the highest pub in Africa

Megan Wilkins

Contributor

A cold beer and a view unlike any other await you at the end of the Sani Pass. Take the road less travelled as you wind around steep, sloping mountain passes, the exhilaration pumping through you. The views conjure up images of fantasy novels, while the local wildlife keeps your eyes and ears at the ready. Lesotho, any enthusiastic nature photographer’s dream, offers the perfect backdrop for the highest pub in Africa. Sip on a pint of local brew while you watch the sunset over the mountain. Or, travel there in winter for a snow experience that is out of this world. Yes, snow in the middle of Africa.

Explore the hidden gem of Africa

The Kingdom of Lesotho, a country in the middle of another country. This interesting terrain is steeped in mystery, owing much of its anonymity to the mountains that surround it - keeping it safe from prying eyes. In fact, the only way to get into this country is to travel through South Africa, which encircles it.

The expansive open spaces are home to many wild animals, such as mountain zebras, mountain reedbuck, and leopards. You’ll also see the famed Basuto ponies that the local people keep as pets and workhorses. Be sure to watch out for their cheeky antics, as they’re known to steal the odd toasted sandwich off your braai. 

Traverse the exhilarating Sani Pass

If you’re at all into 4x4 adventures, then the Sani Pass needs to be on your bucket list. The terrain up the pass between South Africa and Lesotho is fraught with large stones, steep inclines, and unexpected twists and turns. While some are brave enough to attempt the pass in 2x4 high-clearance vehicles, it’s definitely more fun in a 4x4.

If you’d prefer a slower approach, there is also a day-hike through the Sani Pass that will take you through some awe-inspiring vistas with some tricky climbs along the way. If you’re looking for a good workout and a way to earn your beer at the end of the day, this is certainly how to do it. Make sure to wear your comfy hiking boots for this one. 

What to see at the highest pub in Africa

The pub at the Sani Mountain Lodge, with an elevation of 9,429 feet (2,874 meters), truly is the pot of gold at the end of the African rainbow. What gives this pub the greatest appeal is the chance to drink a pint above the clouds. Literally. The pub is so high up, you get to see the clouds forming over the mountains below, while the sun sets in the distance.

Apart from the dizzying height, you’ll have the rare chance to sip your favourite drink in two countries at the same time. Due to its location, the border between South African and Lesotho runs beside the pub, meaning you can have a foot in each territory. While you’re chatting to the barman about your exhilarating trip through the Sani Pass, make sure to keep an eye out for the rock hyraxes (dassies) that call the area home.

Learn about the traditions and culture of Lesotho

The Basotho people of the Kingdom of Lesotho have a rich and ancient nomadic past. And part of this history is their ability to adapt to extreme conditions. Due to Lesotho’s position in the mountains, the temperatures range between vastly different levels. So, the people have included survival into their culture, which they celebrate every day of their lives.

One such cultural aspect is the brightly coloured Basotho blanket, tightly woven from wool and worn around the shoulders. The blanket is more than just a fashion statement. It also serves to protect the people from the elements. It is warm during the snowy winters and keeps you cool in the hot summers, whilst reflecting in its colours your tribal origin. The Basotho people are friendly and welcoming, and invite anyone to come and learn more about their culture and history.

Go snow-skiing in the middle of Africa

Yes, you read that correctly. Snow in the middle of Africa. Contrary to popular belief, Africa can get extremely cold. But, much like the animals of these colder regions, the people have adapted to and even embraced the conditions. Lesotho is one of the few places that you can go snow skiing on the continent.

Afriski lodge offers the chance for adrenaline chasers to experience skiing in a setting unlike any other. Who wouldn’t want to shred some ice while the mountain zebras graze in the background? The lodge offers conditions suitable to all skill levels, ensuring fun for the whole family. And, because of its positioning, you can spend a day skiing and wake up for a safari the next day. Talk about the best of both worlds. 

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