Sani Lodge is one of the best organized hostels in South Africa. It is owned and managed by Russell Suchet, who wrote the book "A Backpacker’s Guide to Lesotho." It is a friendly, spotlessly clean hostel with an appeal to all age groups, where guests can sit by a wood fire (also good for drying hiking boots) exchanging travelers’ tales over a beer rather than partying.
Visitors come here to hike in the Drakensberg Mountains, to discover ancient rock art produced by the Bushman or San people, and to visit the nearby mountain kingdom of Lesotho via the Sani Pass. To assist them in this, the hostel lends guests free waterproof maps and self-guided trail guides, and for those destinations which can only be visited as part of a tour group, the hostel provides organized tours through its own company, Drakensberg Adventures.
Sani Lodge is administered by the city of Underberg, but it is in a rural location nineteen kilometers drive from the city center with its grocery stores and gas stations, much of it along a gravel road, Sani Pass Road, where the hostel is situated. It is well signposted and is easy to find when approaching by car. It is also possible to approach the hostel from the neighboring country of Lesotho via the Sani Pass but only in a four-wheel drive vehicle, and the border is only open at specific times of day.
There is ample parking on the property. A bus company, Underberg Express, runs a daily passenger service to and from Pietermaritzburg and Durban by prior reservation only. Travelers going to the hostel from Lesotho can take a four-wheel drive shared taxi to the South African side of the border, then transfer to a South African shared taxi to the hostel. This journey can also be done in the opposite direction.
Rooms and Bathrooms
There are several four-bed, mixed-sex dorms as well as double and twin rooms with ample shared communal bathrooms. In addition, there are some traditional African-style round thatched houses known as rondavels, where there are rooms with private bathrooms. Other options include a self-catering cottage and tent camping on a grassy area linked to the rest of the property by a footbridge over a stream. There is a basic kitchen and good mixed-sex bathroom facilities beside the camping area. The shared bathrooms in the main complex are also mixed-sex, and there is ample is space to change in the shower area, where there are hooks for clothes and soap dishes.
For those who prefer to have their meals prepared for them, the hostel provides this through advance reservation in its own restaurant, where the pay-as-you-go internet computer is situated. The main building contains a well-equipped kitchen with stoves, a microwave oven, refrigerators -- including one containing beer and soft drinks to which guests can help themselves, paying on an honesty basis. A similar system applies to cake. The hostel also provides free tea, instant coffee, and milk.
Adjacent to the kitchen is a spacious, comfortable dining area and lounge with a large amount of information on activities and attractions and a book exchange. There is a large veranda with ample comfortable seating on the exterior of the building. All of these are officially nonsmoking areas, and there are notices to this effect. However, in the case of the veranda this rule is frequently violated, so it is necessary to close the windows to prevent smoke from penetrating the lounge area.
Sani Lodge is the obvious choice for travelers seeking a comfortable, safe, reasonably priced base from which to spend as much time as possible exploring this beautiful part of South Africa and neighboring Lesotho and is highly recommended.