Sani Lodge

The Review

They say location is everything -- it’s a massive part of what makes Sani Lodge backpackers’ such a great place to stay. The owners’ attention to detail here makes it exceptional.

The Location

Nestled in the foothills of the Southern Drakensberg mountains and right on the fringe of Ukhahlamba Drakensberg Park, the Lodge offers comfortable and clean accommodation, with a number of hiking trails from anything to an hour to six days in length. Sani Lodge is about twenty kilometers from the nearest town, Underberg, which is easily reached by minibus from Pietermaritzberg; a journey of roughly an hour.

Rooms and Bathrooms

Sani Lodge has a large selection of rooms, including self-contained cottages, shared doubles, dorms, and camping. The dorms are all four beds and very clean and neat with sturdy wooden bunks. They have warm duvets and blankets, and hot water bottles are provided in the rooms. The mattresses are firm and comfortable and each dorm has a power point, a table, wooden lockers, and bedside shelves. The common toilet and shower block is tiled and very clean with hand towels and soap provided. Hot water is available twenty-four hours.

Common Spaces

The large common room has a fireplace and multiple sofas and armchairs. There is a big noticeboard with details of all the trips, tours, and hikes on offer here. There is a veranda where you can sit outside and gaze at the mountains. The common room is also where the guests’ kitchen is. Beautifully clean and well kept (as is the rest of the lodge), it is small but well equipped with kettle, toaster, microwave, gas cooker, and fridge.

The Tea Garden restaurant is open to the public and this is where all meals are served. The menu is limited but the set three-course dinners are delicious (listen for the "dinner drum") and there is a choice of healthy or cooked breakfast in the mornings and snack lunches. Packed lunches are also provided for hikers on request. There is a plunge pool in the back garden with stunning views of the mountains, and the restaurant has a sitting room attached with a table tennis table, TV, and free (but slow) Wi-Fi.


This is a beautifully kept and run place in stunning surroundings. There are many activities that can be organized here -- hiking, pony trekking, mountain biking, and river-rafting, to name a few. You can also volunteer to work in the local villages through Sani Lodge. They practice responsible tourism here, recycling all their waste, and a lot of the food they serve in the restaurant is homemade. They support local arts and crafts and have a small shop selling local products. This is a wonderful place to relax and there is no pressure to do any of the activities on offer, but with the mountains sitting right there, you just have get amongst them.
by Londonroad Staff Reviewer
Photos taken by the reviewer — Genuine photos you can trust.
Approaching Sani Lodge
Common Room
Common Room Veranda
Sun Deck
Plunge Pool
Common Kitchen
Sitting Room with Table Tennis


Underberg, Drakensberg, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
+27 (033) 702 0330
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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. The Location 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. Common Spaces 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. Summary 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.
John Steedman
Great place for venturing into Lesotho!
I stayed for two nights at Sani Lodge. The owner runs a whole lot of trips into Lesotho. I did not go on any of them, but I heard great things from people that did. I had just spent four days camping at the top of a mountain and was more interested in the fireplace, which worked really well. The owner is also the author of "A Backpackers Guide to Lesotho" and can advise you of travel there. Definitely the place to stay if you are heading up Sani Pass to Lesotho or if you are coming down the pass to S.A.
Good for spending one night
Nice place to spend the night. We shared our cottage with other south africans. The kitchen had plenty of stuff and they did the cleaning for you! They have great chocolate cake. They also have an internet point but it is really expensive and slow. Apart from that the dormitory were we slept was reasonable. They arrange daily excursions to the sani pass for 350R per person.

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