In most hikers’ opinions, this is the most spectacular and enjoyable pass in the Mnweni area and even the entire Drakensberg. Navigation in the pass itself is relatively easy despite the lack of a path and this lets you rather admire the awesome pinnacles, towering buttresses and the never-ending view of the Mnweni little berg stretching beneath you. This pass is a definite must for any hiker who ever gets a chance to explore the area.

* * * * *   7/10
Difficulty of the pass is rated from 1-10 (10 being very difficult, only to be attempted by the fit and experienced). A subjective quality rating is indicated by the number of stars (1 being low, 5 being the highest). Factors such as scenic beauty and overall experience come into play here, which may differ from person to person.

Fangs Pass is accessed by a long day’s walk-in (21 km) from the Mnweni Cultural Centre. The Mbundini River valley leaves the Mnweni River just before Shepherd’s cave. The pass starts at a small waterfall where the Fangs tributary joins the Mbundini River.

The distance from the small waterfall to the top of Fangs Pass is 4 km with an altitude gain of 1000 m.

From the small waterfall at the joining of the Fangs tributary and the Mbundini River, ignore the path which continues up the ridge and follow the Fangs tributary instead. Make your own route up the pass, following the boulder bed of this tributary all the way up to the steep grassy slopes near the top of the pass. Make sure you avoid going up the right-hand (northern) fork of the pass and stick to the larger, left-hand (southern) fork all the way to the top. There are a few really simple rock scrambles towards the middle of the pass but nothing serious enough to call Fangs Pass a rock pass. Once the grassy slopes can be accessed, follow them all the way to the small cairn marking the top of the pass at 3000m.

Finding the pass from the escarpment:
There is a small river valley heading up to the escarpment just south of the point where the river running parallel to the escarpment edge joins the river coming from the Mbundini Abbey. The small cairn marking the top of Fangs Pass is situated in the right-hand (southerly) saddle at the top of this valley about 100m in altitude above the river.

Overnight Spots:
There are a couple of nice campsites near the small waterfall at the bottom of the pass. Fangs Cave is a large cave which sleeps about 8 people and offers some very good shelter. It is situated about 100m in altitude up a large side gully on the left-hand (south) side of Fangs Pass, about 200m in altitude below the top of the pass. There is, as usual, plenty of good camping on the escarpment itself.

As the route follows the river all the way up, water is plentiful until the river dries up about halfway up the pass. The next available water is the strong-flowing river on the escarpment about 1 km from the top of Fangs Pass.


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chan5aard's Avatar
chan5aard replied to: #58853 22 Oct 2013 07:48
We came down the pass this year January. The rocks took heavy strain on our knees and quads but it definitely is a beautiful pass. I would say definitely don't underestimate the difficulty. It's hard.
tonymarshall's Avatar
tonymarshall replied to: #53594 17 Apr 2012 18:39
Lower down the gradient becomes flatter, and the tree line is reached. The top of the pass with the grass slope is visible as the low point in the background.

The top of the pass is the left hand grass slope in the background.

A view to the Fangs from the river bed.

The waterfall in the river is the point where the path to Mbundini meets Fangs Pass. Madonna and Her Worshippers are visible about a third in from the right of the photo, and Mbundini Abbey is the high point at the right.

We headed down river, relieved to be past the boulder hopping and on a path, and overnighted at Five Star Cave, before walking back out to Mnweni Cultural Centre the next morning. For a more detailed description, see Elinda's or mykitchin's write ups under the topic 'Fangs to Ifidi...or vice versa.'
tonymarshall's Avatar
tonymarshall replied to: #53593 17 Apr 2012 18:14
Over the Easter weekend we descended Fangs Pass after our epic ascent of Ifidi Pass.

The pass has steepish grass slopes at the top and very good views of the Mnweni Needles.

A view up to the top of the pass on the grass slope.

Descending, the grass slopes slowly give way to scree and boulders.

The valley narrows and the route is restricted into the boulder bed.

The boulder hopping starts and progress is quite slow.