Sani Top Chalet in the Drakensberg

The Highest Hotel and Pub in Southern Africa

In 1946 the intrepid veteran of the war in Italy David Alexander organised a pony trip up the steep bridle path to Sani Top in the Drakensberg. He became convinced he could build a jeep track up the pass - having driven them up similar mule tracks in the Appenines. 

©Roger de la Harpe
The Sani Top Chalet overlooking the Sani Pass.

He did, and also started the Mokhotlong Mountain Transport Company (MMT) which really opened up the area. The company was later sold to Michael Clarke and is now the Sani Pass Tours company which ferries tourists rather than trade goods. Two of the colourful characters of pre-road days were the immigrant traders Waring and Lamont. They both grew rich but Lamont ended up a living and dying hovel at the present-day police post.

Alexander then got the idea of building a traveller's inn at the summit to replace the rather primitive Lesotho government rest hut. He convinced the barman at the Underberg Hotel, Jimmy James, to build first the Pack Horse Inn at Mokhotlong, and then Sani Top Chalet - the highest hotel and pub in Southern Africa, and likely all of Africa. MMT was based in Himeville, whose famous watering hole and inn, the Himeville Arms, was run for many years by the Aldous family.

Jonathan Aldous sold the Himeville Arms some years ago and is now proprietor of Sani Top Chalet, thinking nothing of commuting up and down the pass. If you are wise take advantage of his hospitality. If luck is with you, you could be trapped there for weeks in a big snowstorm. Sani Pass Tours, as well as two other tour companies, runs daily trips up the pass and you can enquire about the weekend package offered by the Himeville Arms and Sani Top.

By David Bristow