You visited CapeTown’s main attractions and hiked every possible trail of Table Mountain, nowwhat?

South Africa’s diverseterrain and mild climate makes it very suitable for hiking, and the WesternCape Province is no exception. There are still so many nature reserves ormountains just an hour away from central Cape Town. One of them is CrystalPools.

The name pretty muchexplains itself, but to briefly explain: Crystal Pools is part of a naturereserve near Gordon’s Bay. The reserve is full of very refreshing rock poolsthat can be accessed via moderate hiking trails. So, this is a perfectopportunity to have a summer picnic with lots of swimming.

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The area also attractsmany animal species, particularly baboons. Because of their aggressive behavior,the management of the park always tracks their movement so that they can notifythe visitors of their existence just in case. Other than baboons, there arealso wild cats, foxes and leopards which are nocturnal and hiding during the day.

When you look upCrystal Pools on the internet, you might realize that people are making plansfor this hike so much in advance. Here is why: To preserve wildlife in thearea, they are only allowing a limited number of people to enter the reserve ata time. This number is usually around 20-25. Think about it this way: you mightneed to book right now if you want to hike two months from today. Booking costsR69 per person.

The place is nearGordon’s Bay, an hour away from Cape Town. The actual nature reserve whereCrystal Pools is situated is called the Kogelberg Nature Reserve. The entranceof the nature reserve is basically at the mouth of Steenbras River.

There are nine lakesin total. The first lake is 45 minutes away from the entrance with a fairlyeasy hike along a well-defined path. The hike becomes more strenuous from hereto the second and the third lakes as you start to climb uphill for about twentyminutes. On the other hand, reaching some of the lakes might require a steepdescend.

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The water is extremelycold, but the feeling you get once you dive in after all the physical effortand sweating is priceless.

Speaking of the water,don’t let the word crystal fool you because the water is actually not crystalclear. This is not because it’s muddy and dirty, but rather a consequence ofthe fynbos (indigenous plants of Western Cape) that live underwater and releasesubstances that change the color of the water. The situation applies to all thenatural pools in South Africa, so don’t be intimidated.

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Here are some tipsabout the area before concluding:

  • The parkcloses at 5 pm, so it may not be possible to explore all the nine lakes sinceleaving the park later than the closing time results in having to pay a fine.
  • Sincethere is no shade in the area, we would definitely not recommend hiking at noonwithout putting a sufficient amount of sunscreen.
  • After thechallenging hike, you can reward yourself by visiting Strand Beach in Gordon’sBay. Our recommendation would the Belgian Waffles in Strand Beach. The Nutellawaffle is simply delicious because they are very generous with the toppings.

Crystal Pools is aperfect way to start a long-awaited summer or make the most of a sunny winterday, but it certainly isn’t the only available option. Western Cape hasprobably hundreds of different hiking routes each of which offer spectacularviews of the unique Western Cape landscape. Stay tuned for more articles aboutthe hikes in Western Cape.

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