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“We stayed in the backpackers...”

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Sani Mountain Lodge
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Sani Pass
Certificate of Excellence
Cape Town Central, South Africa
Level Contributor
6 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“We stayed in the backpackers...”
Reviewed May 31, 2012

Sani pass top has recently undergone a change in ownership (circa March 2012). The new owners seem to have really jacked up the prices.

The backpackers dorm is located in the village, far away from the views. The toilets are in a separate, unheated, freezing building with plumbing issues. In general, it just seems there has been a lack of effort that doesn't justify the R185 dorm bed.

Room Tip: There is another dorm a few km down the road, signposted. It might be worthwhile to investigate....
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  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with friends
    • Value
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    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank SA_Traveller_Budget_
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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219 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (38)
Date | Rating
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English first
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
14 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
Reviewed May 6, 2012

Sani Top used to be basic and cheap, unpretentious and full of character and tradition. The current owners have traded on this reputation and have created a nice facility, but sadly have forgotten that high prices in out of the way places require top service and standards. And frankly, at the exorbitant price, it is now a rip-off. When it was cheap and cheerful, there was warm beer and cold water. Now that it is expensive, there is STILL warm beer and cold water. I like it better before: I didn't expect too much, and it didn't pretend to offer very much. Consequently, Sani Top is now very poor value for money.

The managers are perfectly indifferent to the guests, barely communicating with them at all. One of them spent most of his time smoking outside or watching sport on DSTV. The rooms are good...except that the door rattled all night in the howling wind, the gas fire died, there was no hot water and the place was dusty and too rapidly built to pay attention to detail. The food was quite good though.

What happened to the good ol' days? The view is great and the pass is exciting...but it always was.

  • Stayed May 2012, traveled with family
    • Value
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Helpful?
5 Thank Lloyd C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Bielefeld, Germany
Level Contributor
32 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed May 1, 2012

The drive up the pass was slighly hair-raising by my standards, but perfectly passable in a 4x4 and very very scenic. The Sani Top Chalet (highest pub in Africa) is under new ownership and big changes are planned. We slept in a Rondavel, with a fire in the stove in the evening - very romantic, though at the same time pretty basic. Plenty of hot water - but be aware that the electric goes off early and doesn't start again until breakfast time. The food was astonishingly good and the welcome was warm from all the staff. Great place to meet fellow adventurers - everybody shares their experiences and you can easily strike up friendships.

Room Tip: Would recommend the Rondavels - very special.
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
3 Thank Sue H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
89 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
Reviewed April 1, 2012

The drive from Himeville, up Sani Pass is an adventure, prefferably in a 4X4 as the road is steep and rocky but the views and scenery amazing, the Sani Top Challet offers day travelers a very cozy pub and restuarant on the top of the escarpment with roaring fireplaces (it gets freezing cold up there) the food and atmosphere is fantastic.

  • Stayed May 2011, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Jonathan M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tellitlikeitwas
Level Contributor
25 reviews
21 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
Reviewed March 30, 2012

We visited Sani Top Chalet, now renamed Sani Top Lodge, a few days after it was taken over by new owners. Due to a mix up during the handover, our 4x4 up Sani Pass (you have to have a 4x4 or rely on Sani Top Lodge to provide a transfer service) was two hours late - and only had two seats for three of us. Not a good start, going up a very dangerous pass in a torrential thunderstorm while sitting doubled up on the gear stick. However, the trip up was very exciting and the food alone at Sani Top Lodge made it worth it. The new owners have poached an excellent new chef from an upmarket North Drakensberg hotel. His enthusiasm and talent were boundless. Our thatched hut (rondavel) was spacious and atmospheric. But much needs to be done: our bed desperately needed new bedding and pillows, which were being organised imminently; the gas fire in our room made our eyes stream so badly that we couldn't bear to light it, so we froze - the new manager is converting all the gas fires to log fires for more atmosphere; the Lodge ran on a generator, switched on for a couple of hours in the morning and from 6 to 10 in the evening but the lighting was not good enough to read - new solar panels are about to be installed; when the mist came in, there was nothing to do, as you could not risk accidentally walking off the nearby cliffs, though Sani Top Lodge is home to 'The highest pub in Africa', so you can always sit and have a drink. However, when clear, the views from the top were amazing and we really enjoyed our guided walk. One night is probably sufficient for this location but you can dine out on the experience for a long time to come. I will watch with great interest to see how the new owners rise to the challenges ahead.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
6 Thank Tellitlikeitwas
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Umhlanga Rocks, South Africa
Level Contributor
115 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 65 helpful votes
Reviewed January 28, 2012

I WISH they had told us that the drive to the RSA border post (before you go up the Sani Pass) is on rocky, slippery roads. In our tiny hire car, we did not enjoy that part of the drive one bit. The clouds had come in, visibility was maybe 5 feet. It was hair raising, and absolutely terrifying, especially for someone with a fear of heights.
We used the Sani Top transfer on 4x4 to get up the Sani Pass, which was still a white knuckle ride.
The rondavels are awesome. Round brick huts with a thatched roof, a huge log fire and paraffin lamps to keep on after the generators switch off at 10pm.
If you're lookin for 5* luxury, you're going to be disappointed. If you want truly rustic, once in a lifetime opportunity, this will blow you away.
Roger (the fun brother) is great! Full of stories of what it's like to run the highest pub in Africa. His brother Jonathan should stick to th business end and leave the customers to Roger!
The food is rustic and traditional. No haute cuisine will be found here. It hearty, basic and filling.
I don't think the actual hotel is great value for money, but I believe you're paying for the incredible experience, not the rooms/food.

  • Stayed January 2012
    • Value
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    • Rooms
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Helpful?
1 Thank Lakota75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, Canada
Level Contributor
14 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 32 helpful votes
Reviewed December 26, 2011

Sani Top Chalet is situated at the top of Sani Pass. From the lodge, the views are absolutely amazing. The quiet and peaceful surroundings make the stay very worth while. In the mornings you can see the shepherd boys heading off into the hills with their sheep herds. Lambs had recently been born and added to the size of the herds and the beauty. It is a wonderful, very remote site. A small ‘village’ is close to the lodge (500 meters away) and I walked through the area and observed the ‘rock’ houses and daily life….no need to drive anywhere to see this.

When writing a review, I feel it is important to understand expectations. Remember that all supplies need to come up the pass. Each day, supplies need to be delivered and this includes the propane tanks to generate heat in the heaters and also the firewood needs to come up the pass. These are valuable commodities and need to be thought of as such. Care is taken not to waste the fuel. All food comes up the pass as well. When you consider this and you see the lodge, it is quite amazing what you get. We had one of the newer roundavels which was neat and clean, however it is not ‘big city’ neat and clean. Water for showers is heated via wood heaters and it may not always be reliable. For 1 night I can miss a shower if the hot water doesn’t arrive.

I would say the accommodations are more reminiscent of hostel type accommodations in very remote areas. Considering this, we were pleased with the accommodations. The set meal in the evening was very good with good variety. This is cooked on basic stoves, nothing fancy in the kitchen and yet great meals are produced. It is a great opportunity to meet fellow travelers from around the world. They are all there for the experience of Sani Pass, the view and the overnight stay.

We were there on November 26. The log book indicated that the prior day, those that were there woke up to snow on the ground. So even though it is summer, at this height, it can still be quite cold at night.

The generator only runs for a few hours in the evening. After that it helps to have a torch or a head lamp. But with a clear sky, the stars and natural light is quite amazing.

I rate this a solid 4 based on my expectations, the remoteness and the constant turn around in guests who stay 1 night only to experience a unique part of Lesotho and South Africa.

  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank windymountain
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Sani Mountain Lodge

Property: Sani Mountain Lodge
Address: Sani Pass, Sani Pass, Lesotho (Formerly Sani Top Chalet)
Phone Number:
Location: Lesotho > Mokhotlong District > Sani Pass
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Shuttle Bus service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Sani Pass
Number of rooms: 14
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A one of kind Lodge located at the top of Sani Pass,2874m above sea level,located on the border line of Lesotho and South Africa some 300m from the entry border post of Sani Pass, Lesotho.The lodge has a 48 seater restaurant, serving breakfast, lunch & dinner daily.The Highest Pub in Africa stocks a wide varity of beverages accompanied with a varst selection of great wines, satisfying all ones needs.Satilite TV and free WiFi is available in the lodge area ,enabling one to keep in contact with the outside world and family.The lodge has 9 rooms, made up of double & twin bedded rooms, on suite, togther with 6 & 4 sleeper family rooms.We also have a 22 sleeper Backpackers and Camping Area located next to the backpackers. Both the main Lodge & Backpackers are run on generator power.Activities available-guided hikes,fishing, bird watching and horse riding. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Sani Top Chalet Hotel Sani Pass
Sani Top Chalet Pass

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