Steenbras Nature Reserve - Secret Cape Town

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Need To Know Information

  • Location: Kogelberg Nature Reserve Trail, Helderberg Rural, Cape Town
  • Operating hours: Office hours: 7:30am – 4pm | Steenbras River Gorge and Crystal Pools hiking trail bookings: Monday – Friday (excluding public holidays): 8:30am – 2:30pm
  • Hike operating times: 6:30am – 7pm (hiking trails may differ slightly according to sunrise and sunset) | The hike is open from the beginning of November until the end of April annually and is closed during Cape Town’s winter season for rehabilitation.
  • Contact details: 021 444 6927 | 021 957 4725 (emergency number) | [email protected] | You must pre-book your hiking permit at least three to five working days before your visit – To pre-book your permit, send an email to [email protected]
  • Dog-friendly: No
  • Child-friendly: No children under the age of 12 years are allowed in the area
  • Cost: Entry fee for Steenbras River Gorge is R75 per person and the entry fee for the Steenbras hiking trails is R25 per person | For more information and a detailed list of costs please contact 021 444 6927 or [email protected]
  • Distance from Cape Town: +/- 70km | 60 – 90 minutes

Steenbras Nature Reserve

The Steenbras Nature Reserve forms part of the greater Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, one of the Western Cape’s most magnificent natural gems, and includes the popular Steenbras River Gorge and Crystal Pools hiking trail. Besides being a must-visit destination for avid hikers, thrill seekers and keen adventurers, the Steenbras Nature Reserve is well known for its unique biodiversity – with the area often being referred to as ‘the heart of the fynbos.’ Home to more than 1600 plant species, it boasts the greatest floral diversity per unit area than anywhere else in the world. The area supports five different vegetation types and is regarded as one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots. A visit to the Steenbras Nature Reserve undoubtedly deserves to be on every nature enthusiast’s bucket-list.

**Interesting fact: The area, now known as the Steenbras Nature Reserve, was originally proclaimed as a protected area in 1979 and was registered with UNESCO (United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1998 and declared an area of international importance. 

About Steenbras River Gorge

The Steenbras River Gorge forms part of the Steenbras Nature Reserve which is also part of the greater Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. This valley is located just an hour away from Cape Town and is a popular destination for trail hiking, abseiling, kloof-jumping, and swimming. Steenbras River Gorge is the ultimate hiking destination, boasting a variety of incredible hiking trails, including the Danie Miller hiking trail, the Klipspringer hiking trail and the famous Crystal Pool Hiking Trail.

Crystal Pools Hiking Trail

The Crystal Pools Hiking Trail offers a 2-kilometre-long hike to a series of mountain pools in Steenbras River Gorge. The trail starts about 6 kilometres past Gordons Bay along the R44, just after you’ve crossed the bridge over the mouth of the Steenbras River. It starts out fairly easy but gets tougher as you ascend. Continue to follow the little yellow footprints to stay on the path. About 45 minutes from the start of the trail, you will come across the first pool.

You can choose to rest and take a dip in a pool of refreshing mountain water (which we highly recommend) or hike further to the second pool, which is just ten to fifteen minutes away. Further up is the third pool which offers more swimming, kloofing, and cliff jumping opportunities as well as stunning scenic views of the area. The main water source of the pools is the Steenbras River. The third pool is an ideal picnic spot. From the top, you can see the dam wall of the Steenbras Dam and panoramic views across False Bay to Cape Point in the other direction.

**Tip: This hiking trail is suitable for anyone who is reasonably fit, however, it is slightly more challenging for those who are not in tip-top hiking shape. While the half-day hike takes you through rocky, but generally flat terrain, with an amazing waterfall at the top, it is quite a trek. Make sure you are well prepared and have plenty of snacks, water, and energy to get there.

**Important note: To ensure that the hiking trails don’t get too crowded, a maximum of 50 people are allowed per day. It is essential to book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

  • Hike Distance: +/- 2km
  • Hike Difficulty: Moderate – experienced
  • Level of fitness required: Moderate
  • Average duration of the hike: +/- 2 – 3 hours (depending on your fitness & experience level)
  • Dog-friendly: No
  • Child-friendly: No children under the age of 12 years are allowed in the area
  • Cost: Entry fee for Steenbras River Gorge is R75 per person and the entry fee for the Steenbras hiking trails is R25 per person | For more information and a detailed list of costs please contact 021 444 6927 or [email protected]
 
 
 
 
 
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Life is better in hiking boots and swim shorts. #sundayresolutions #happyweekend #poolparty #crystalpoolhike #hiking #naturalpools

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Fauna, Flora & Biodiversity

As the Crystal Pools Hiking Trail falls under the greater Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, which is home to over 1600 plant species, it boasts a unique biodiversity and is remarkably rich in indigenous fynbos. This makes it one of the most beautiful and sought-after natural wonders in the Western Cape. This unique Kogelberg sandstone fynbos is also loved by troops of baboons. Reserve management tracks their movements and are able to tell you on the day whether baboons are nearby. To avoid any altercations, it is important to keep your food securely stashed away and to act respectfully and responsibly when you do happen to encounter these highly intelligent, and mischievous animals.

Besides baboon sightings, the Fynbos mountain ranges in the Western Cape is home to African wildcats, cape clawless otters, large spotted genets, caracals, cape foxes, and leopards. As most of the cats in this area are nocturnal, you don’t need to worry about any dangerous altercations. However, it is still important to remain vigilant at all times.

 
 
 
 
 
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Crystal Pooling ??‍♂️? #crystalpools #steenbrasnaturereserve #steenbrasriver

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Get Your Permit Beforehand

The hike is open from the beginning of November until the end of April annually and is closed for the rainy winter season for rehabilitation. A pre-paid permit is required before you can gain access to the Steenbras River Gorge and Crystal Pools Hiking Trail. You can only acquire a permit via email, not at the gate. Send your booking request for Steenbras River Gorge and Crystal Pools Hiking Trail to [email protected]. Bookings are handled between 8:30am and 2:30 pm on weekdays. You must finalise the permits at least two to five working days before your visit.

A maximum of 50 people can enter the area per day. Groups must consist of a minimum of 2 and a maximum of 10 persons. It is important to book early to avoid missing out.

How to make an electronic booking:

  • E-mail your name, group size, contact number and date you wish to visit the area to [email protected]
  • Wait for confirmation of your e-mail and that you have a provisional booking.
  • Once you’ve received confirmation of your booking, make an electronic payment.
  • E-mail your proof of payment to [email protected]
  • Wait for your electronic permit to be mailed to you.

**NB: Remember to print out your permit and take it with you when you visit the Steenbras Nature Reserve.

 
 
 
 
 
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In order to understand the world, one has to turn away from it on occasion. #SteenbrasRiverGorge #CrystalPools

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