What on earth would a 60+ birder be doing at a backpackers? You may ask.
Added to that, I had never backpacked in my life. Now I find myself looking forward to spending another weekend at Sani Pass Lodge Backpackers – my third visit.
Before I ‘met’ this peaceful, welcoming piece of heaven so close to Sani Pass, Backpackers was not for me! In my mind they were low cost accommodation for young travelers living on the smell of an oil rag. I imagined dormitories filled with students partying all hours of the night, dirty kitchens and shared untidy ablutions. Not for me!!
I have since been educated!
Sani Pass Lodge does have dormitories, but they also offer rooms with just two beds and best of all, for old ducks like myself, self-catering cottages. I’ve stayed in all three. The rooms are decorated with African themes, comfortable and clean. They all face onto an indigenous garden and a braai area for group braais (barbeques).
This past weekend we stayed in Guinea Fowl Cottage consisting of two bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen. No sharing! Our private garden filled with indigenous plants encouraged some fabulous feathered visitors,. We regularly had Bokmakerie, Southern Bou Bou and Swee Waxbills to name a few.
Visit Giant’s Cup Cafe and Crafts
A few steps from the backpackers is Giant’s Cup Café and Crafts. Here, a little shop stocks some interesting items sourced from local suppliers. Fresh milk and butter provided by Jersey cows grazing in the fields next door is available as is Terbodore hand roasted coffee made in the Midlands of KZN. I couldn’t resist these and came home loaded down with some delicious treats.
The Café provides snacks during the course of the day and also breakfast and dinner if you book beforehand. We booked for supper on the last night of our weekend.
Here again, proof I am not used to backpackers!
I felt like I was in boarding school, but at least we could bring our wine out and not hide it in our satchels!! The meal has three courses, with no options. It didn’t matter if you wanted starters or not – it just landed in front of you.
Now eat up!! I was fascinated and amused, and I ate up!!
The food was tasty, simple, nutritious and filling. Staff were friendly, helpful and willing. Perhaps this is what it is like in most backpackers around the world, I am no expert in that field, but I found my visit to the restaurant quite novel.
Sani Lodge Backpackers is a mere 16 km from the Lesotho border. It’s an excellent option when planning a visit to this part of the world. The cost is more than affordable and caters for both young travelers from all over the world, oldies like me and families. I can’t imagine staying anywhere else in the area, unless I am looking for luxury and prepared to pay for it.
The Lodge believes in responsible tourism and this ethos comes through from the relaxed atmosphere, the owners and all the staff. In 2016 it won the Silver Award for Africa Responsible Tourist in the category ‘Best for Poverty Reduction’. It directly supports local employment and social upliftment.
The lodge also supports the education of children in the area. Visitors are invited to contribute, whether it’s an hour reading to the children, to volunteering at a local school for a day or even more. Read more about it here
While I was there I met two lovely young German girls who had volunteered to spend an afternoon with five little children from the area. Just listening to their accents while they read stories, with these children draped all over them was touching. The benefits to the children is enormous as it is vital that they become proficient in English. Interacting with English speaking folk is a marvelous opportunity for them to learn the language.
If you keen to explore this majestic part of the Drakensberg Mountains including Lesotho, Sani Lodge Backpackers is a good option for accommodation. They offer a number of tours from the lodge from a day trip up Sani Pass to some overnight hikes.