South Africa – Underberg and the Sani Pass – part 2

Continuing from South Africa – Underberg and the Sani Pass – part 1

Going through the border control was very easy and everything was sorted by Aldo. I seem to recall he said he’d been through over 400 times and had been stopped and searched once. Going from the relatively rich country of South Africa to a poor country like Lesotho you’d expect the roads to get even worse. That definitely wasn’t the case and the road in Lesotho was excellent. It turns out the Chinese have lent the country money and built them an incredible road. No doubt they will pay for it in the end.

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The Sani Pass Road Lesotho

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS 1/1250 s. f/4.5 iso160 4.5-90.0 mm

We followed this road and stopped in several locations again to look for birds. Walking here was very difficult due to the altitude, so even walking up the hillside for a short distance was hard work.

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Looking for birds, Lesotho

VTR-L09 1/950 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

Here we saw and photographed Fairy Flycatcher, Mountain Pipit, Sentinel Rock Thrush, Sickle-winged Chat, White Stork, and White-necked Raven.

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Fairy Flycatcher, Stenostira scita

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/1600 s. f/5.6 iso800 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

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Mountain Pipit, Anthus hoeschi

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/1000 s. f/5.6 iso800 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

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Sentinel Rock Thrush, Monticola explorator

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/1250 s. f/5.6 iso800 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

There were also lots of Drakensberg Crag Lizard basking in the heat.

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Drakensberg Crag Lizard, Pseudocordylus melanotus

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/2000 s. f/5.6 iso800 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

After a very nice packed lunch which was supplied by Aldo, we travelled a bit further into Lesotho so we could go to it’s highest point. Here we saw a group of Lesotho Shepherds who looked extremely cold. Apparently there are loads of shepherds and the sheep overgraze the hillsides as there are too many of them. Can’t see that ending well.

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Lesotho Shepherd

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/6400 s. f/5 iso500 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

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Highest point, Lesotho

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS 1/1250 s. f/3.5 iso160 4.5-90.0 mm

From here it was the long trek back to Underberg, but not without a stop at the highest pub in Africa.

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Beer at the highest pub in South Africa

VTR-L09 1/750 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

Whilst stopped here we saw Yellow Canary, Malachite Sunbird, and Drakensberg Rockjumper.

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Drakensberg Rockjumper, Chaetops aurantius

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/2000 s. f/5 iso800 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

We also managed to photograph Sloggett’s Ice Rat

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Sloggett's Ice Rat, Myotomys sloggetti

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/1250 s. f/5 iso800 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

We still managed to get a few shots of different birds on the way down which included the Ground Woodpecker and the Cape Robin Chat.

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Ground Woodpecker, Geocolaptes olivaceus

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/500 s. f/5.6 iso800 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

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Ground Woodpecker, Geocolaptes olivaceus

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/500 s. f/5.6 iso800 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

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Cape Robin Chat, Cossypha caffra

Canon EOS 7D Mark II 1/1250 s. f/5.6 iso800 EF500mm f/4L IS USM

It was also good to see the views down the Sani Pass showing how bad the road really is.

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Sani Pass

VTR-L09 1/350 s. f/2.2 iso50 n.a.

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Sani Pass

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS 1/200 s. f/4 iso160 4.5-90.0 mm

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Sani Pass

Canon PowerShot SX280 HS 1/200 s. f/4 iso160 4.5-90.0 mm

All in all it was an excellent day where we saw 45 different species of birds, as well as Drakensberg Crag Lizard and Sloggett’s Ice Rat, with scenery that took your breath away.

For those that like lists, here’s a list of all the birds we saw in the Sani Pass

African Sacred Ibis, African Stonechat, Amethyst Sunbird, Brimstone Canary, Brown-throated Martin, Buff-streaked Chat, Bush Blackcap, Cape Bunting, Cape Canary, Cape Crow, Cape Grassbird, Cape Robin Chat, Cape Sparrow, Cape Wagtail, Cape White-eye, Drakensberg Prinia, Drakensberg Rockjumper, Drakensberg Siskin, Fairy Flycatcher, Familiar Chat, Greater Double-collared Sunbird, Greater Striped Swallow, Grey Crowned-crane, Ground Woodpecker, Gurney’s Sugarbird, Half-collared Kingfisher, Jackal Buzzard, Layard’s Tit-babbler, Levaillant’s Cisticola, Malachite Sunbird, Mountain Pipit, Olive Thrush, Red-eyed Dove, Red-knobbed Coot, Red-throated Wryneck, Sentinel Rock Thrush, Sickle-winged Chat, Southern Grey-headed Sparrow, Southern Red Bishop, Steppe Buzzard, Streaky-headed Seedeater, White Stork, White-necked Raven, Yellow Canary, Yellow-billed Duck.

© 2003-2019 Kevin B Agar

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