The Big Chill (Part I)

Winter exploration and travel tips


Up and at ‘em at 5.30am on a Saturday morning, now that’s dedication! We were off and in search of snow. Our trip up to Lesotho for a hike through the Sehlabathebe National Park was planned somewhat last minute, and with heavy snows that took place just a few days before our departure, we were not too sure about camping in minus degree temperatures any longer. Without a solid plan, but plenty of enthusiasm, we forged on and reached the top of Sani Pass within 4 hours of leaving the balmy shores of Durban.


Lesotho was a trip of many ‘firsts’ for some of our crew: experiencing snow, minus degree temperatures, testing out the 4-wheel drive of a new car (great timing), trying to get a braai started and cook our meat in 2-degree weather (whose idea was that?) and more that I probably shouldn’t mention in fear of sounding even more like amateurs.


After deliberation between the ranks we chose to road trip further into Lesotho for the day, but stay at the Sani Pass Backpackers for the evening – much to the bar owner’s satisfaction.


Inland Lesotho is truly beautiful. Dotted with traditional homesteads throughout the countryside and covered in a blanket of snow, it was amazing to experience the completely barren, open spaces of this small country above the clouds. It almost felt like being on the moon, in a completely different world. Please be warned, the cold in Lesotho is no joke – by 5pm that evening the temperature sat at just 2 degrees, and later dipped down to -5 degrees during the night. See below for some personal tips to ensure you are fully prepared.


Personal Travel Tips:


  • Braai when the temperature drops below 5 degrees. It’s just not fun.
  • Sleep outdoors when it’s snowing, unless you’re climbing Mount Everest or a mountain goat.
  • Wear cheap gumboots in the snow. Rubber holds the temperature it is exposed to, so your gumboots will literally absorb the cold and freeze your feet.
  • Forget jumper cables in case your car falls into a cold coma and won’t wake up.
  • Drive too fast throughout Lesotho, there are a lot of road works as well as locals and their animals strolling beside the road.


  • Buy good quality thermals and a minus degree sleeping bag – this will save your life.
  • Buy a waterproof jacket so you can make snow angels and not soak yourself.
  • Pack a good quality camera – there is plenty of amazing, varied landscape to photograph.
  • Have the KitKat and marshmallow hot chocolate at the Sani Pass Hotel.
  • Use a 4 X 4 to get up Sani Pass, at all costs.


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