After extensive research, Sandra decided to stay in Underberg which gave easy access to the Sani Pass. The Sani Pass starts at 1544m and rises 1332 vertical meters to summit at 2876m. It’s also considered a birding hotspot.
Our accommodation was at Panorama Hideaway Underberg, and after a very nice introduction we watched the sunset.
We had previously contacted out hosts about a guide to go up the Sani Pass with a special interest in birds. They suggested Aldo Berruti who runs Drakensberg Nature Tours with his wife, Sharron. Aldo was an extremely interesting man with a vast knowledge of the regions birds. If you’re interested you can read about him here
Next morning it was an early start to drive the Sani Pass into Lesotho. Aldo picked us up at 06:00 and after brief introductions, we set off. After stopping for fuel, we continued on the Sani Road and stopped at some lakes near to the Sani Road and Sani Pass Road junction. Here we saw and photographed Southern Red Bishop, Drakensberg Prinia, Greater Striped Swallow, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, and African Stonechat.
We stopped three more times to see more Southern Red Bishops plus White Stork, Grey-crowned Cranes, Cape Crow and Levaillant’s Cisticola
Our next stop was at Sani Lodge Backpackers as they had a lot of flowers planted at the front which attracted Amethyst Sunbird, Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Malachite Sunbird, Cape White-eye, and Brimstone Canary.
Onwards and upwards, we stopped several times to photograph African Sacred Ibis, Red-eyed Dove, Bush Blackcap, Cape Grassbird, Brown-throated Martin until we left the road and went to Mkomazana Mountain Cottages
Walking around the grounds and to the Lake we saw an Olive Thrush and a Half-collared Kingfisher.
A poor distant shot of the Half-collared Kingfisher but it was great to see it and even Aldo looked pleased
We even managed to see a few Baboons hanging around
Rejoining the Sani Pass Road we stopped more times to photograph
Malachite Sunbird, Steppe Buzzard, Jackal Buzzard, Red-throated Wryneck, Buff-streaked Chat, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Familiar Chat, Streaky-headed Seedeater, African Stonechat, Drakensberg Rockjumper, Cape Canary, Cape Wagtail, Drakensberg Siskin, Cape Bunting, and Sentinel Rock Thrush.
During all of this birding we also had amazing views of the Sani Pass and the surrounding area
As can be seen, it’s not the greatest road and you really do need a 4×4 to drive it.
Here we reached the border of South Africa and Lesotho and the next part of the trip will be in South Africa – Underberg and the Sani Pass – part 2