The Birth of Sani Pass


“On a good day you can see until tomorrow” is how views from the edge of the Sani Pass have been described.

Standing on the summit staring into deep crevices and across coloured walls of rock, it is daunting to imagine that 160 million years ago enormous internal pressures from the core of the earth tore apart Gondwanaland and resulted in vast cracks in the crust of the African Continent. Through these fractures molten lava flooded over the shores of Africa and through lakes and swamps where dinosaurs had lived and died.

This was volcanic activity.  Thick lavas flowed and cooled oozing up to 50 metres at a time which occurred approximately where Lesotho lies today. Over the next 20 million years the lava built up a deposit of basaltic rock.  Bubbles boiled and rose to the surface evidence of which still pock marks rocks on the side of the Sani Pass.

Once the massive flows of basalt lavas cooled they were immediately exposed to the erosive forces of wind, rain, ice, lightning, heat and drought. Where the elements broke through the basalt cap and formed softer layers, erosion was faster and caused steep sided valleys with churning rivers tumbling seawards. Thus the escapement forming the edge of the Drakensburg was born.

In the grander scale of things, humanity appears almost insignificant opposed to this vast panorama stretching so clearly that we can ‘see until tomorrow’ from the views at the top of Sani Pass.

(Details supplied by KZN Tourism)