The majority of South Africa’s land border posts remain closed during lockdown.
But as of 22 October, one of the 35 closed posts reopens: Sani Pass.
The spectacular “mother of all South African mountain passes” does not carry a lot of traffic to and from Lesotho, but is internationally popular for 4×4 outings.
Some 65% of all South Africa’s land border posts, a total of 34, remain closed to all traffic during the coronavirus lockdown.
But as of 22 October, one reopens: Sani Pass.
Minister of cooperative governance and traditional affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma decreed the reopening in a single-purpose update to disaster management regulations gazetted on Wednesday.
Sani Pass connects South Africa to Lesotho. Lesotho was cited as one of the reasons why South Africa amended its approach to coronavirus testing for inbound travellers, introducing the option of an antibody test on arrival rather than demand a pre-departure PCR test. Lesotho, the SA government said, lacked the capability to conduct such tests.
But unlike the borders post just outside Maseru and Ficksburg, Sani Pass does not carry commercial or business traffic. The “mother of all South African mountain passes”, also described as “the most dramatic 4×4 drive in South Africa”, was built as a trade route used by mules, but today has an international reputation that attracts tourists throughout the year – but especially in summer, when conditions are easier and there is more daylight to be had.
South Africa’s border post is at the bottom of the pass, so that even those who do not wish to enter or stay in Lesotho must pass through it – and there is little sight-seeing to be done when it is closed.
Several businesses depend on travellers who day-trip up the pass, including specialised tour operators in the Drakensberg region