Things To Do in Mweni ValleyIfidi Pass Hike
Where? Start and finish at Mnweni Cultural Centre, Mnweni Valley, northern Drakensberg.
When? Daylight hours.
How much? Price on request
Start: Mnweni Cultural Centre, Mnweni Valley, northern Drakensberg
Finish: Mweni, northern Drakensberg
Duration: 3 day round trip
Fitness: very fit, this is one of the most difficult passes in the 'berg
Our tip: Despite the necessity for extreme fitness and experience Ifidi is one of the most gratifying passes to negotiate.
Ifidi pass is as difficult as the Icidi pass – the two are regarded as the two most difficult passes in the 'berg, there to test the resolve of hikers. But of the two, the Ifidi is the more enjoyable.
There is a fair amount of rock climbing involved and the hike should only be attempted by capable mountaineers.
Both passes are found in the beautiful, rugged Mweni Valley that lies between Cathedral Peak and the Royal Natal National Park.
The route starts with a walk through the kraals from the Mnweni Cultural Centre to the junction of the Mnweni River with the Ifidi River, where it follows the Ifidi River up the pass.
The route to Cycad Cave (first overnight cave), just 5 km from the Ifidi Pass, is a path freqently used by dagga smugglers from Lesotho, and takes one as far as the indigenous forest. From there it peters out, leaving you to boulder-hop your way up the Ifidi River bed.
Higher up the bed the boulders become too large to hop and it is easier to get out of the river and clamber the vegetated slopes on the left of the pass. Stick to these slopes until there is a major fork in the river at the base of the Ifidi Pinnacles.
Take a right and head into a narrow rock gully that at its narrowest, a little further in, is only 4 metres wide. This is the route up the pass, most of it scrambling over boulders in the gully, and includes a number of chimneys. Great fun for those who enjoy rock scrambling.
Out of the gully the route follows a less steep grassy slope all the way up to the summit at 3 000 metres.
Note: should you not like the look of Cycad Cave as an overnight venue (the roof is covered in black soot and there is a lot of ash on the ground) then the grassy slopes below the cave close to the river serve as a good alternative.
Right at the top of the pass is a small shelter known as Ifidi Cave, which can also function as a second overnight venue. But most people return down to the slopes below the pass.