Lesotho border, passport & visa considerations for DGT

28 Aug 2013 19:21 #58284 by caiokf
I am planning to do the GT in mid October, but I don't have a Lesotho visa. I was wondering if anybody has some suggested route/pass to take towards the end of the Traverse so i end up in South Africa without having to go through a Lesotho border post, or if getting a visa (1000 rand) is my best option.

Thanks a lot.

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28 Aug 2013 19:27 #58285 by Smurfatefrog
The only possible place a passport would be requested would be at Sani Pass, very unlikely though. You wont be asked for anything at Bushmans Nek
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28 Aug 2013 19:42 #58287 by caiokf
Thanks for the quick reply.

So at Sani pass i would be at Lesotho side already, right?! Would i just walk past the border post without stopping, and eventually i will be at south africa again?

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29 Aug 2013 05:04 #58290 by Smurfatefrog
You'll be in Lesotho for a lot of the hike, including at Sani Pass. The border is the watershed. The Lesotho border post is right at the top of the pass, so yes you could just walk right past it, maybe 100m or so inland ;)
It would be safer to get a visa though (I'm assuming you are not South African?) as technically you'd be illegally entering Lesotho

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29 Aug 2013 07:07 #58292 by ghaznavid
As Smurf said, unless you are not a South African you wouldn't need a Lesotho visa, just a passport.

We did the entire GT last year without passports. We had lunch at Sani Top with no issues and walked through the Bushman's Nek border post with no problems at all. Before Sani you would normally go quite far inland to avoid those big ridges south of Thabana Ntlenyana, you can always just make a B-line from there to South Hodgesons and you won't even come within 1km of Sani border post. Just try not to run through the area - no one will be suspicious unless you make them suspicious!

You will cross the border a lot - especially when you go from the Yodeler's ridge to the Champagne ridge where there is a clear path, and it zig-zags across the border well over 20 times.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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29 Aug 2013 07:22 #58294 by ghaznavid
Just to clarify - we did have our passports with us, but what I mean by "without passports" is that we didn't ever have to take them out our packs.

Getting to the top is nothing, the way you do it is everything – Royal Robins

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29 Aug 2013 07:23 #58295 by Josh of the Bushveld
I know its off-topic, but an interesting anecdote nonetheless. We were recently at Mata-Mata rest camp in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, which is on the Namibia border, and has a border post. There is a small farm stall a few hundred meters in the Namibia side, which sells fresh meat etc. Anyway, the border staff, including police, allow people to walk from the SA side to the farm stall without any problem at all, you just walk straight through the border! (We also walked on the Botswana side of the transfrontier park on a guided morning walk.)

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09 Sep 2013 18:54 - 09 Sep 2013 18:55 #58435 by intrepid
Welcome to this forum caiokf. I see from your profile you are not South African, so I thought I would emphasise some details

As others have said, rarely do people on a Grand Traverse need their passports. However you normally walk right by the Lesotho border post at the top of Sani Pass, and the South African border post at Bushman's Neck. There isn't really an official entry and exit point along the route. It would only be an issue if you wanted to end your hike at Sani Pass.

Nobody can guarantee that you will not need your passport with a valid visa though, so do consider what others have already warned you of in this thread. If you stick strictly to the escarpment edge you are very broadly on the border, so if the Lesotho officials approached you, they might simply just tell you to get back into South Africa. You cannot take this for granted though. Also bear in mind that the border is not well defined or understood either. There is a dispute sometimes between the watershed and between the actual escarpment edge, which isn't always the same thing.

If you decide not to get visa, definitely still take your passport along. If you are questioned by the Lesotho official’s (they do patrol on rare occasions) just be as co-operative and respectful as possible.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 09 Sep 2013 18:55 by intrepid.
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10 Sep 2013 07:35 #58445 by Philip
I agree with Intrepid's advice.

Only certain countries need a Lesotho visa, and the criteria seems illogical - but that is the way it is! South Africans do not need a visa.

May I suggest that the most practical way to check which countries need a visa is to go to www.drakensbergadventures.co.za They thoughtfully publish the list on their website.

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07 Jan 2018 17:42 #72583 by Drakie1
We are planning a Grand Traverse for end of April. One simple question regarding border control: Starting at Sentinel, at some point we wil be entering Lesotho without a stamped passport. Is it wise to hang around at Sani Pass for example, without a stamped passport? At Bushmen's neck we have to enter back into South African territory, again without the necessary documentation. What is the normal procedure to overcome this problem? Can anyone help please?

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