Hiking trail: Crystal Pools, Gordon’s Bay, Western Cape

Crystal pools is a hidden gem, located just past Gordon’s Bay, about 65km from Cape Town. We had heard of it in passing but we could not find much information about it on the web. We were amped after a recent Lion’s Head hike and though hiking would be “our thing” for the summer (that was our last hike).

The info we could find was as follows:

  • They only allow 50 passes for the area per day
  • Groups of 3-10 persons can obtain passes from steenbras.naturereserve@capetown.gov.za
  • Passes were R60 pp
  • The area has a “baboon problem”
  • It is considered an “easy hike” according to Cape-hike.co.za

So, our group of 9 arrived there at our idea of bright and early (9am) on a very hot summer’s day. We presented our pass and were allowed in by a very grumpy staff member. Note: they are very strict about the passes. There were 2 groups whom arrived at the same time, prepared for their day at Crystal Pools and the staff turned them away. The passes are non-negotiable.

From the start of the hike we had a beautiful view.008

We were trudging for about an hour before we ran into hikers on their way back. They were older folks who looked relaxed and refreshed and we were starting to get tired. They told us to start much earlier next time. Noted! The sun was burning down on us and a few of us had already slipped on wet rocks. The plants whipped our bare legs (those wearing shorts) and some of them stung like hell.

and we walked, walked, walked

and we walked, walked, walked

We walked about 90 minutes before we found our first pool and it was beautiful. We desperately needed a break at this point and did not hesitate to jump in! Well everyone except me. I can’t swim so we first had to spend ages inflating my pool floatie (burying my head in shame!).


Inflating the floatie



Some of the brave (or insane?) guys jumped from the top of the rocks (probably not a good idea as if something nasty happens – it must be difficult for EMS to access). I’m definitely not brave enough especially since I would most likely have belly-flopped and drowned. The water was relatively clear (not crystal clear!) and ice-cold but it was ridiculously refreshing after the long walk. There were loads of little fish and tadpoles in the water and big momma frogs in the bushes.

After about half hour of playing in the water, we decided to make our way to the next pool. These were further uphill and it was more steep. We had to climb in certain areas. The walk is demarcated, although sometimes quite a long time passes between seeing the signs. The area was so lush and green!

Pretending to be in a shampoo commercial

Pretending to be in a shampoo commercial

The second pool was a short walk away. On the way there, one of us had quite a nasty fall and we all cursed ourselves for not taking plasters with to stop her bleeding.

The 3rd and 4th pools were huge. We decided to have our lunch there as were were dehydrated and famished. We mostly packed sandwiches which was okay but ice cold Coca-Cola was amazing and really did the trick!



We decided not to climb up to the 5th and 6th pool as we were just too tired, our water supplies were running low and the wind was starting to pick up.

So we started the long walk back which probably took us around 2 hours since we got lost (How do you get lost when you are following arrows?). We had basically drank up all of our water and had no food left and the sun was beating down on us. That was not fun. At this point most of us were complaining of aches and pains and we couldn’t wait to get back to the cars.

We made it!

We made it!

We had an amazing time at Crystal Pools but it would have been even have better if we were better prepared. Here are a few tips for anyone who wants to go:

  • Travel light! The walk is long. Doing it with Cooler boxes is not a good idea.
  • Take enough food, snacks and especially water. A reservoir bag is a good idea if you have one.
  • There are no braai facilities!
  • Wear sunblock and something to cover the shoulders (dress in lightweight fabrics. It’s no fun walking around in a wet jeans)
  • Wear trail shoes or shoes with grip (several people had some nasty slips)
  • Take a good camera to capture the amazing scenery
  • Leave dogs and kids at home
  • It may not be tough for a seasoned hiker but it can be difficult for the unfit (like myself) so be prepared
  • Take swimwear
  • Start early
  • Try not to get lost – stick to the demarcated routes
  • We didn’t see any baboons but we had sticks and other items to chase them away if we were threatened
  • Don’t be the fool that gets sent away for not having a pass
  • Be prepared to be awestruck by this hidden gem!

– I


One thought on “Hiking trail: Crystal Pools, Gordon’s Bay, Western Cape

  1. Pingback: Things to do in and around Cape Town (& surrounds) this festive season | Suitcases and Lattès

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