Mountain Wrangle


Words and pictures by John Sanders.


Firstly, a very big thank-you to my wife for allowing me to buy the Jeep, and then also for allowing me to drag my young family into the unknown, on the first of what I hope are many ventures to come. Our 4×4 is a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Rubicon, affectionately named Dozer.

One thing that surprised me early on in this trip was that the road from Underberg to Sani becomes gravel quite soon, actually gets fairly rough, and feels like it’s taking you right into the mountains. So much so, that I stopped and deflated the tyres from 2.4 to 2.0 bar; and kept these pressures for the rest of the trip.

Before long, the South African border post came into view, giving us a chance to stretch our legs and deal with the officials. To my surprise they were jovial and friendly, and we were in and out in a flash.

Up the mountain we drove. A very easy drive, but we kept Dozer in low-range most of the way. There was a tiny bit of ice-on-ice on some corners, even though it was around 5°. We had estimated that the climb would take us two hours, but it took just 45 minutes.

We paid our fees at the Lesotho border post on the top, had a friendly chat, and then made our way into the unknown. First up was lunch at Sani Top, including the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had! (Ed: This venue has new ownership and management. It’s now called Sani Mountain Lodge, and offers upgraded facilities and accommodation – but with the same old charm. For more info, go to )

Then we were off, heading down Black Mountain Pass and taking in the snow scattered around on the higher peaks. The road in places was very rough and we averaged 10 km/h on many stretches, taking roughly 2.5 hours to drive 30 km.

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