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*All distances listed are as the crow flies, and not actual travel distances.
About an hour’s drive from Cape Town, Crystal Pools is a magical place located close to a river mouth along the Western Cape coast and lying within the pristine Kogelberg Nature Reserve. A permit is required to visit (only 50 people per day are admitted into the reserve) and advanced booking is necessary.
Crystal Pools was formed by the Steenbras River travelling through a gorge on its course to the Atlantic Ocean. Pockets of water gathered at varying elevations as the water made its way out to sea. These pools are fairly deep and are bounded by steep cliffs, and to reach them requires a hike along a path strewn with boulders. The water is stained a deep russet colour, caused by the tannin of dead vegetation, however, the water itself is perfectly clean.
The major appeal at Crystal Pools is the chance to do some cliff jumping into the pools. This is known as kloofing and is similar to the sport of canyoning but without ropes and where jumps are optional.
The hike up to Crystal Pools begins under the bridge at the Steenbras River mouth, a super scenic spot, and the first pool reached has a 5m jump to whet the appetite. Further up the gorge is a 2nd pool, a lot deeper and with more extreme jumping platforms. As you climb, so the cliff jumping becomes more extreme, the highest jump being roughly 23m. At the top of the gorge is a small waterfall and shallow pool where a few tour operators offer an abseiling (rappelling) experience.
If you have a pair, take along water shoes which generally have good grip and dry quickly. Also take along plenty of water, a hat and sun cream. Note that food attracts baboons, rather eat at one of the many seaside restaurants in Gordon’s Bay after enjoying your Crystal Pools adventure.