Dragon Mountain to Afrikaners, Barrier of Spears to the Zulu, the Drakensberg is South Africa's highest range. Sunsets are spectacular, rare species thrive in the wilderness and at 2,874 metres, the highest pub on the continent greets you with beer and mulled wine, and views to die for, come sun or snow. But to enjoy your drink on the 'roof of Africa', you must negotiate the vertiginous drive up to the Sani Pass, along a mule track masquerading as a road. Antelopes bound on the slopes, protea and yellow-wood trees splash colour and glistening spring water gurgles on the rocks. Baboons plod around, guarding their young. At the Good Hope Centre where mohair and wood were once traded for maize, taxi drivers tout for custom to the cry of 'one more, just one more' Today that's nicknamed the No Hope Centre and judging by the vehicles preparing to tackle the climb, it seems fair. Beyond the South African border post, an 8km stretch of no man's land leads up to the pass and the kingdom of Lesotho. Ahead of you, four-wheel drives jerk along a jagged ribbon of earth crawling above the valley. The track glows like molten gold, steeper and more tortuous as you climb, littered with rocks and stones, blessed by names that say it all: Suicide Corner, God Help Me Corner, Ice Corner and Whisky Corner as a last resort. Boulders tower all around but this is no time to stop and stare. One more three-point turn on the final bend and you're there, panting in the thin air, hit by sweeping winds and dizzying views. It's like the Grand Canyon, say the rangers, but all eyes are on the Sani Top chalet perched on the very edge of the escarpment. We order Maluti beer, sink on the couch by an open fire and gaze at the sign above the bar - 'It's tough at the top.' In this rambling lodge, the walls are covered with old photographs, letters, car adverts shot on the spot, and one door is framed with banknotes. There are board games to lighten the mood, carvings, wall hangings and beads to buy, skis and boots waiting on a rack, and talk of dragons, bushman rock art and more than 2,000 species of plants and 300 of birds.You can stay overnight in a luxury rondavel, a circular African hut of stone and thatch, or join backpackers sharing facilities and hair-raising stories. Winters are for skiing, snow permitting, summers for trekking across vast open spaces, perhaps climbing Thabana Ntlenyana, the highest peak, or heading for the Tugela Falls which plunge 947 metres. But most of us drive up for a shot of adrenaline and a rustic lunch of homemade soup and fresh trout. You can see the view from your table, although a quick visit to the nearby heath brings its rewards, maybe a lesser kestrel or a bearded vulture, a clump of wild carnations or black-faced orchids. Far below, velvety slopes roll down to the valley floor in shades of purple, pink and gold and the last four-wheel drive is barely a speck on the dirt track. There's talk of tarmac all the way to the top but few want it. The South African border closes at 4pm, leaving enough time to pop into Lesotho, a few steps from the pass. Expect to be lured into a village hut, drink sorghum beer from a communal mug and be escorted by Angora goats with tinkling bells and children wrapped in blankets from head to toe. It's bitingly cold but right behind you, the highest pub in Africa is ready to welcome you back and I was in no hurry to return to the valley.