Getting Here

Getting Here

Sani Lodge Backpackers and Honeyguide cottage are in the Southern Drakensberg. 

We are situated 19 km from the nearby town of Underberg as well as

  • 141 km from Pietermaritzburg
  • 130 km from Kokstad
  • 218 km from Durban
  • 539 km from East London.
  • 607 km from Johannesburg

The last 10 km of the road to Sani Lodge is tarred. Most maps of South Africa show the Sani Pass Hotel on them – we are 1 km before the hotel.

GPS COORDINATES
29deg 39min 46 sec south
29deg 27min 24 sec east

Getting here in your own car

There are two possible routes depending on how far south along the coast you are.

a) From the “Upper South Coast”, the area around Umkomaaas, Scottburgh and uMzinto, take the R612 via Highflats and Ixopo to join on to the R617 south of Bulwer. Turn left towards Underberg. In the middle of Underberg, turn right at the Shell Garage on the road to Himeville. 5km will bring you to the village of Himeville, go straight through and carry on another 4km until you reach a four way junction. Turn left here on to the Sani Pass road. (The signpost says “Sani Pass”.) This is a brand new tarred road. We are 10.5km along the Sani Pass road on the left hand side. If you reach Sani Pass Hotel, you have missed us – we are 1km before the hotel.



Places of Interest:

UNDERBERG: This is our nearest town and a good place to stock up if you need to. Underberg Spar is about 100m further along the main road from the Himeville turn off and is open daily from 7am to 7pm.

b) From the “Lower South Coast” the area around Umzumbe, Umtentweni, Port Shepstone, Port Edward and Oribi Gorge, take the N2 via Harding to Kokstad. Once you reach Kokstad, turn right, follow the road right through the town and out the other side, this road then becomes the R617 via Swartberg to Underberg. This is a quiet and pleasant road to travel with great views. In the middle of Underberg, turn left at the Shell Garage on the road to Himeville. 5km will bring you to the village of Himeville, go straight through and carry on another 4km until you reach a four way junction.. Turn left here on to the Sani Pass road. This is a brand new tarred road. We are 10.5km along the Sani Pass road on the left hand side. If you reach Sani Pass Hotel, you have missed us – we are 1km before the hotel.

Places of Interest:

UNDERBERG: This is our nearest town and a good place to stock up if you need to. Underberg Spar is on the main road about 100m before the Himeville turn off and is open daily from 7am to 7pm. Since we DO NOT have credit card facilities, Underberg is the last place to draw cash out from ATM’s which can be found at the First National and Standard Banks.

Beginning in Durban, take the N3 Motorway northwest towards Johannesburg. 80 km from Durban, the motorway passes the city of Pietermaritzburg. Continue on another 19km. Come off the N3 motorway at the “Howick (South)/Underberg” turn off (Exit 99). Turn left on to the R617 road. After 36km, the road reaches the tiny village of Boston, a further 38km reaches the town of Bulwer and another 37km will bring you to our nearest town, Underberg. In the middle of Underberg, turn right at the Shell Garage on the road to Himeville. 5km will bring you to the village of Himeville, go straight through and carry on another 4km until you reach a four way junction. Turn left here on to the Sani Pass road. (The signpost says “Sani Pass”.) This is a brand new tarred road. We are 10.5km along the Sani Pass road on the left hand side. If you reach Sani Pass Hotel, you have missed us – we are 1km before the hotel.

 

Places of interest along the way:


PIETERMARITZBURG:

Backpackers’ Hostels:

  • Pietermaritzburg Backpackers 033 342 1758 or 0612117522

HOWICK:

Howick Falls:  is a waterfall which is approximately 95 meters in height (311 feet) and lies on the Umgeni River. The Zulu people called the falls KwaNogqaza, which means “Place of the Tall One”. It is in the middle of the town of Howick and has a viewing platform allowing good views of the fall. It is only a few kilometers off the route.

Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve:
Reserve description: The greater part of the nature reserve lies in the spectacular gorge below the Howick Falls, while the upper part is the fringe of a rolling plateau which has an average altitude of about 1 000m. The reserve is home to giraffe, zebra and a variety of antelope. There is an indigenous tree trail surrounding the main Education Centre and self-guided walks mingling with the game animals in the beautiful Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve. A bird watchers paradise, with over 270 bird species. A road travels along the plateau above the valley, giving great views of the gorge carved out by the Umgeni river as well as an opportunity for game viewing and bird watching. There are 11 numbered markers dotted along the road, each point has a corresponding number in an Auto Trail booklet which will offer some interpretation / information about that particular point. The drive is about 6 km each way.  The Reserve can be found 2km out of Howick on the road to Karkloof which is well signposted from the main road of Howick. See www.wessa.org.za/index.php/KZN/KZN-Umgeni-Valley.html

BOSTON:

Accommodation Boston T Party www.bostontparty.co.za. In the tiny village of Boston, this lovely location on a small dam offers backpacker’s accommodation. Fishing and canoeing on the dam are other options!

BULWER:

Indigenous Forest Boardwalk: Marutswa Forest Boardwalk www.treeroutes.co.za/marutswa.htm  .Well signposted from the R617 in Bulwer town, this patch of indigenous forest is well worth a visit. There is a 2.5km circuit route through the forest with points of interest along the way. The lower section features a number of walkways which leave you high in the canopy, a perfect place for seeing birds. The speciality of the forest is the rare and endangered Cape Parrot. There are also secluded picnic spots in the forest. Support the local community by hiring a local guide for your walk through the forest.

Paragliding: Wild Sky Paragliding 039 8320224 or www.wildsky.co.za . If jumping off a perfectly sound mountain is your thing, Hans and Ria are the experts and located in one of the best paragliding spots in the country. They do tandem flights as well as courses.

UNDERBERG:

This is our nearest town and a good place to stock up if you need to. Underberg Spar is about 100m further along the main road from the Himeville turn off and is open daily from 7am to 7pm.

Beginning in Pretoria, travel to Johannesburg. Then take the N3 towards Durban. Follow the N3 south through the Free State and into KwaZulu-Natal. 

When you reach Mooi River, you face a choice. Both options take roughly 2.5 hours to travel. The recommended route is to continue south along the N3 motorway until you reach the Howick (South) / Underberg turn off (Exit 99). You then follow the R617 route via Boston, Bulwer and Underberg to reach us (See the Durban to Sani Lodge section above).

The second option is to turn off either at the Mooi River or the Nottingham Road exits and then take the road from Nottingham Road village towards Sani Pass. This road heads west from Nottingham Road. The first 30km is a good quality tar road. Just after the turn off to the right to Kamberg, the road becomes a dirt road. This is a 60km stretch of dirt road which is very windy and up and down and cannot be driven at any speed. If the weather is clear and you are driving in daylight hours, it is a very scenic route, but it feels like it takes forever and is much harder on the driver than the tar road along the R617. Also note that there is no fuel along the road which is very remote. At the end of the 60km stretch, you will reach a four way junction. Turn right here on to the Sani Pass road, and we are 10.5km along this road on the left hand side. This is a brand new tarred road. If you reach the Sani Pass Hotel, you have missed us as we are 1km before the hotel.

There are two options to travel between the areas of Amphitheatre, Cathedral Peak and Champagne Castle and Sani Lodge. 

The quickest and easiest route is to travel back to the N3 motorway north of Estcourt, then travel south along the N3 to the Howick (South) / Underberg turn off (Exit 99). You then follow the R617 route via Boston, Bulwer and Underberg to reach us (See the Durban to Sani Lodge section)This route will take roughly 3.5 hours to drive.

The second option is to follow the roads further west and closer to the mountains. Much of the route is on dirt, though there are certain sections which are tar and the route takes one past White Mountain, the turn offs to the KZN Wildlife camps at Giants Castle, Highmoor and Kamberg before joining the Nottingham Road/Sani Pass road as described in the previous section. The whole route is windy and up and down and cannot be driven at any speed. If the weather is clear and you are driving in daylight hours, it is a very scenic route, but it feels like it takes forever and is much harder on the driver than the tar road along the R617. Also note that there is no fuel along the road which is very remote. This route will take roughly 4.5 hours to drive.

Places of interest:

KZN Wildlife entry points and Rock Art sites at Kamberg and Giants Castle www.kznwildlife.com

There are three options which can be used when traveling to Sani Lodge from the west. The choice of route will depend on exactly where you are coming from and what your interests are.

a) The Coastal Route:

This route travels via the Main N2 road from Port Elizabeth via East London, Mthatha (used to be called Umtata) to Kokstad. The N2 is a busy road carrying lots of traffic. Watch out for animals wandering on the road as well as slow moving trucks and taxis. The road is windy and overtaking can be difficult. Turn left off the N2 at Kokstad. Follow the road right through the town and out the other side, this road then becomes the R617 via Swartberg to Underberg. This is a quiet and pleasant road to travel with great views. In the middle of Underberg, turn left at the Shell Garage on the road to Himeville. 5km will bring you to the village of Himeville, go straight through and carry on another 4km until you reach a four way junction. Turn left here on to the Sani Pass road. (The signpost says “Sani Pass”.) This is a brand new tarred road. We are 10.5km along the Sani Pass road on the left hand side. If you reach Sani Pass Hotel, you have missed us – we are 1km before the hotel.

 

Places of Interest:

THE WILD COAST: There are a number of great backpacker hostels along the Wild Coast. This is a coast line which lives up to its name. Besides great beaches, Xhosa villages dot the hillsides, cliffs drop right down to the beach and there is even a waterfall falling directly into the sea. 

  • CHINTSA: Buccaneers Backpackers www.cintsa.com is just off the N2 north of East London
  • SOUTH OF COFFEE BAY : Bulungula www.bulungula.com is reached from the Coffee Bay road which branches off the N2 at Viedgesville, about 10km south of Mthatha
    (FAIR TRADE IN TOURISM ACREDITTED)
  • COFFEE BAY: is reached by the Coffee Bay road which branches off the N2 at Viedgesville, about 10km south of Mthatha. There are two well established backpacker hostels there:
  • PORT ST. JOHNS: from the west, access Port St. Johns from Mthatha. Once you leave Port St. Johns towards Sani Lodge, take the R61 through Lusikisiki and Flagstaff to join the N2 about 13km south of Kokstad. (This road is fully tarred)
  •  

UNDERBERG: This is our nearest town and a good place to stock up if you need to. Underberg Spar is on the main road about 100m before the Himeville turn off and is open daily from 7am to 7pm. Since we DO NOT have credit card facilities, Underberg is the last place to draw cash out from ATM’s which can be found at the First National and Standard Banks.

b) The Inland Route following the R56:

Description of the first part of the route: This route is a much quieter, easier and more pleasant road to drive than the N2. It makes sense to use this road if you are coming from the coast anywhere west of Grahamstown along the coast, or if you are using the inland route from the Karoo areas of Graaff-Reinet, Nieu Bethesda or Craddock. It is also the quickest and easiest route from Cape Town itself.

From Grahamstown: Take the R67 through Fort Beaufort to Queenstown.

From Cape Town: Take the N1 towards Johannesburg as far as Beaufort West. Then take the R61 to Aberdeen, turn north on to the N9 through Graaff-Reinet and on to the R61 turn off, then via Craddock to Queenstown on the R61.

 

Places of Interest:

HOGSBACK: A beautiful forested area in the Amatola Mountains with lots of hikes. Hogsback is just off the R67 route from Grahamstown to Queenstown.

NIEU BETHESDA: A small town located in a glade in a mountainous area of the Karoo, an arid region in the middle of southern Africa. Besides giving you a taste of a unique part of the country, Nieu Bethesda is also the home to an eclectic art culture based around the weird sculptures of Helen Maartens preserved in the museum of the Owl House.

MOUNTAIN ZEBRA NATIONAL PARK: This small park was originally set up in the 1950’s to preserve the last remaining survivors of the mountain zebra, a distinct species of zebra different from the usual plains zebra. It was successful in this and these more beautiful zebra can be seen plentifully in the park, as well as a range of other game including buffalo, black rhino, caracal and cheetah amid stunningly beautiful semi-desert mountain scenery. A small camp has rondavel accommodation and camping. www.sanparks.org

Description of the second part of the route: Once you have reached Queenstown from whichever starting point, take the R359 which is now a fully tarred road via Lady Frere and Cala to join the R56 a few kilometers west of the town of Elliot. Note that if coming from Elliot towards Queenstown, there is no sign at the turn off of the R359 towards Cala. The turn off is the first tar road turning off to the left, about 8km from Elliot. Continue along the R56 from Elliot via Ugie, Maclear, Mount Fletcher to Matatiele. The section between Maclear and Mount Fletcher is still shown as a dirt road on many maps, but was tarred a few years ago and is in good condition. Continue thorugh Matatiele towards Kokstad, and about 5km out of Matatiele, a dirt road turns off to the left to Swartberg. This is about 50km of good quality dirt road which joins the R617 to Underberg in the village of Swartberg. From there, continue on to Underberg. In the middle of Underberg, turn left at the Shell Garage on the road to Himeville. 5km will bring you to the village of Himeville, go straight through and carry on another 4km until you reach a four way junction. Turn left here on to the Sani Pass road. This is a brand new tarred road. We are 10.5km along the Sani Pass road on the left hand side. If you reach Sani Pass Hotel, you have missed us – we are 1km before the hotel.

Places of interest:

TSITSA FALLS NEAR MACLEAR:
Visit “The Falls Backpackers”  www.tsitsafalls.com  Set near a beautiful waterfall, this backpackers also offer a variety of adventure activities.

MASAKALA VILLAGE NEAR MATATIELE:
Visit Masakala Community Guesthouse about 10km from Matatiele in a rural villages. A stay here will give you an idea of rural life in a mixed community of Xhosa, Sotho and Phuti people. Website: www.mehloding.co.za

UNDERBERG: This is our nearest town and a good place to stock up if you need to. Underberg Spar is on the main road about 100m before the Himeville turn off and is open daily from 7am to 7pm.

c) The Route via Southern Lesotho:

Description of the Route: This road through Lesotho is fully tarred and offers a much more adventurous way to travel to Sani Lodge. The road to enter Lesotho if you are traveling from the Karoo or the Free State in via Sterkspruit and the Tele Bridge border crossing. 10km of good dirt road will bring you from the border crossing to the main tar road north of Quthing (also called Moyeni). Follow the road past Quthing and on to Mt. Moorosi. This section of the road follows the spectacular valley of the Senqu River. After Mt. Moorosi, the road climbs high into the mountains before dropping down into the Senqu valley for the last section of the trip. Finally, the road climbs up to the border town of Qachas Nek. After crossing back into South Africa, a good quality dirt road takes you 34km to the town of Matatiele. Turn left when you reach the R56, and follow the road 5km out of Matatiele towards Kokstad where a dirt road turns off to the left to Swartberg. This is about 50km of good quality dirt road which joins the R617 to Underberg in the village of Swartberg. From there, continue on to Underberg. In the middle of Underberg, turn left at the Shell Garage on the road to Himeville. 5km will bring you to the village of Himeville, go straight through and carry on another 4km until you reach a four way junction. Turn left here on to the Sani Pass road. This is a brand new tarred road. We are 10.5km along the Sani Pass road on the left hand side. If you reach Sani Pass Hotel, you have missed us – we are 1km before the hotel.

Places of Interest:

MASITISE CAVE HOUSE: between The Tele Bridge turn off and Quthing. This is an interesting house built in a large sandstone overhang by the missionary Ellenberger in the late 1800’s. It is now an interesting site museum.

DINOSAUR FOOTPRINTS: Just out of Quthing on the road to Mt. Moorosi. See dinosaur footprints in the rock.

QACHAS NEK: If you need accommodation here, stay at Letloepe Lodge www.letloepelodge.co.ls

MASAKALA VILLAGE NEAR MATATIELE: Visit Masakala Community Guesthouse about 10km from Matatiele in a rural villages. A stay here will give you an idea of rural life in a mixed community of Xhosa, Sotho and Phuti people. www.mehloding.co.za

UNDERBERG: This is our nearest town and a good place to stock up if you need to. Underberg Spar is on the main road about 100m before the Himeville turn off and is open daily from 7am to 7pm. Since we DO NOT have credit card facilities, Underberg is the last place to draw cash out from ATM’s which can be found at the First National and Standard Banks.

Independent Travelers without your own car

Door-to-door services

This is a scheduled service running daily between Sani Lodge and Durban. It leaves Sani Lodge in the morning and leaves Durban for the return journey in the afternoon. For a more flexible service enquire with Alex.
Distance SL – Durban 250km,(around 3,5 – 4 hours’ drive)
COST (one way):
DURBAN AIRPORT: R650 per person
DURBAN HOSTELS : R550 per person

Contact Number: 0796967108

EASY MOVE JUNIOR CABS 

They run this new route traveling via Ixopo to the KZN South Coast, taking in destinations such as Umkomaas (diving at Aliwal Shoal), the hostels at Umzumbe and Umtentweni and as far south as Margate Airport. 

Timing is on a flexible, any time basis.
Sani Lodge – Umzumbe 250km (Around 3,5 – 4 hours’ drive)

COST (one way):
R1200 per trip if 1 – 3 people in the vehicle
R400 per person if 4 or more people

They are also on Whatsapp.

Shuttle Connections with Baz Bus/Greyhound/TransLux ect

Distances: 

  • Sani Lodge – PMB 150km (around 2 – 2,5 hours’ drive)
  • Sani Lodge – Merrivale 130km (around 2 hours’ drive)
1. NUD Express

This is a scheduled service running daily between Sani Lodge and Durban. It leaves Sani Lodge in the morning and leaves Durban for the return journey in the afternoon. For a more flexible service enquire with Alex.

COST (one way):

  • PIETERMARITZBURG: R350 per person
  • MERRIVALE: R350 per person

Contact Number: 0796967108 (Alex)
Email: info@underbergexpress.co.za

 

EASY MOVE JUNIOR CABS 

This is a dedicated service which will run for you at any time of any day. Their rates are per trip, and their vehicles can carry 1 – 4 passengers.

COST (one way) to/from KOKSTAD:

  • R600 per trip if 1 person in the vehicle
  • R700 per trip if 2 people
  • R240 per person if 3 or more people

Contact Details:

They are also on Whatsapp.