About Khyber Pass

Before you remark on the obvious association with the more famous pass of the same name, it is interesting to note that there is more than one Khyber Pass. And that two of them are in South Africa.

Neither is the Khyber Pass made famous by numerous Hippies (flower children) who travelled it as part of the Hippie trail, between 1969 and 1971, overland to India to embrace various Eastern religions. That Khyber Pass connects Afghanistan and Pakistan and cuts through the north eastern parts of the Spin Ghar mountains, forming an important trade route between Central and South Asia.

The Mpumalanga version is a tiny suburban road linking Orient Drive and Ganges Avenue, parallel to Zen Street, in Polokwane. Calling it a pass is a misnomer. It is one very short block long.

But the Khyber Pass of KwaZulu-Natal, although far less prestigious than the pass it is so obviously named for, nonetheless qualifies as a pass even if it is a gravel logging road through the beautiful Karkloof Valley, north of Howick.

It is used mainly by heavy-duty forestry trucks and those in search of adventure. Surprisingly, though, the gravel road's condition is pretty good (when it is not raining). When it rains, driving it in an ordinary sedan is slightly problematic as the road has steep sections in either direction.

The Khyber Pass lies roughly 20 km north of Howick, off the Curry's Post Road. Travel for 18 km along Curry's Post Road, taking a left at both forks. Then take a right just before Curry's Post Primary School and a third fork in the road, onto a gravel road (if you reach Heavenly Hammocks then you have gone too far).

This new road heads north and then east. Follow it, and a little after it bends right in a south easterly direction there is a little dam in the crook of the road. To your right is De Magtenburg, a high peak that overlooks the Karkloof forest.

The road now climbs steadily upward in a series of gentle s-bends, offering wonderful views over the Karkloof River valley, the forests stretching away before you. Enjoy the drive and the views, but look out for forestry vehicles.

It is wise to have a map with you as your return journey (continuing on the road you are on) involves a number of convolutions with farm roads diverting off the road (it can get confusing). You can devise a route to finish up at either the Karkloof Nature Reserve, north of the pass, or the Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve, on the east side of Howick.

Need to Know

WhereA logging road that descends / ascends the Karkloof Valley to the north of Howick, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

WhenBest during daylight hours

OvernightStay in Howick Accommodation, KwaZulu Natal


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