Cecil Mack's Pass

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Cecil Mack's Pass is located in the Northern section of KZN on the border with Swaziland. It is a rough, gravel road better suited to off-road vehicles with 4WD. This is not one for the casual weekend traveller. The pass has something of a chequered history including severe cyclone damage, military control and now, obsolesence. Please note that the road is blocked at the Swaziland border and no traffic may proceed beyond that point, other than on foot.

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Digging into the details:

The pass is located roughly 20 km NNE of the Pongolapoort dam; 200km North of Richards Bay; 100km South of Manzini (Swaziland) and 30km South West of the Mozambique border. It is named after the local magistrate, Cecil Mack,  who lived in Ingwavuma in the 1920's.

This report received on 14th July, 2014, from Dr. Andrew Spence, provides an accurate status of this pass.

It's a rough roadDefinitely not suitable for normal cars / Photo: Roughdog"The pass can be accessed by taking the No.2 main tarred road North from Richards bay and Empangeni. Turn right at Jozini to begin the climb into the Lebombo Mountains. Later you pass the Tiger Lodge, proceed over the dam and continue heading north on the P522 to Bhambanana, where you turn left and follow the road (P443) to Ingwavuma. The entire route is tarred, but some sections are being upgraded, whilst other sections remain deeply potholed.

You can only drive down this pass from Ingwavuma. At the point where the border between South Africa and Swaziland is reached, there are substantial stakes and large stones blocking the road, effectively preventing vehicular acess into Swaziland. To access the pass, exit Ingwavuma towards the west (where the tar ends), then turn right (north). You can take a landmark as being 1,5 km west of the local Spar.

Spectacular views over the Ingwavuma River valleySpectacular views over the Ingwavuma River valley / Photo: WikimediaThe gravel road heads north along the Lebombo escarpment for about 4 kms, where you will encounter two switchbacks. This is where the road starts descending down the pass.There are no other roads turning off and the views are quite spectacular. The road hugs the Ingwavuma River and there are sections that have been concreted. This is the site of severe rockslides during Cyclone Demoina in 1986, which closed the road for many years. A short distance after the concrete sections, the point is reached where the road is blocked by the stakes and boulders.

From here you can leave your vehicle and walk a little further on, where you will find a soldiers guard hut, where locals write their names in a book and are allowed to cross the border both ways to visit family and friends and to to get to the Ingwavuma Hospital. If you explain to the soldier that you want to go for a walk in Swaziland, he will likely allow you free access.

There is no access to the pass by vehicle from the Swaziland side. This pass is therefore strictly and out and back route. In earlier years the pass used to be maintained by the military, but this changed in the 1980's and the road has since become obsolete. The condition of the road varies between moderate and poor with deep ruts, axle twisters and washaways. It is definitely not suitable for a non 4WD vehicle"

Fact File:


S27.094500 E31.982532


S27.073573 E31.990588


S27.065382 E31.977981














9,03 km


North, East and West.


45 minutes each way


Self limiting


Gravel (Poor)






Ingwavuma (5 km)

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Route files:

||Click to download: Cecil Macks Pass (Note - This is a .gdb file which can be opened in most GPS software systems)

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