Sani Pass is for the birds.
Most visitors visit the pass for adventure, breathtaking scenery as the road snakes up towards Lesotho, to explore Lesotho itself, admire the magnificent fauna, or even just a family fun day out.
Click here to find out more.
To add to the magic of your visit, take note of the many endemic birds found in this area. Bird watchers from around the world come here – just for the birds!!
Birding starts where the adventure begins – at the bottom of the pass near some abandoned buildings that have a story of their own. The road gently climbs up, following the Mkomazana River. Here we were treated to Common Waxbills, a few Southern Bou Bous, Buff-Streaked Chats and a Cape Grassbird calling happily.
Border Posts are normally boring. Right? Wrong!! Not for birders anyway.
As we arrived at the South African border post we were greeted with loud bubbling trills of Barratt’s Warbler. Despite our earnest efforts we could not find him. Fortunately we tried again on our way down and this time were rewarded with incredible views of him along with a pair of Fairy Flycatchers.
The higher we ascended and as the habitat changed to more hilly grassland with Protea bushes dotted around, so the birding became more exciting. We were treated Drakensberg Prinias, Cape Rock and Sentinel Thrushes, and Ground Woodpeckers to add to our now long list of birds seen.
The “cherry on top” (or should I say ‘bird on the top’?) was great sightings of Gurney’s Sugarbird showing off his long elegant tail while feeding from nectar of a protea.
Malachite Sunbirds were also active and we were constantly treated to flashes of iridescent bright green plumage.
Closer to the Lesotho border post, around Ice Corner we found both Drakensberg Siskins and the best looking bird of all – the Drakensberg Rockjumper. What handsome bird, with his red eyes, and striking orangey underparts with a red rump. I love the way he stands so proudly with his tail upright. I am sure he knows he’ll win any beauty contest.
After such a good day birding, we celebrated with a well deserved Maluti beer. Here’s to Sani Pass, not only for the birds but almost!!
Just a note: Stuart McLean of Birds and Beyond is a highly recommended bird guide. I have enjoyed many wonderful trips with him up Sani Pass. Click here for his details.
Below are photos of some of the birds and animals I’ve been able to photograph during my visits up Sani, enjoy.