Me, Rachel Swailes. My blog about stuff I get up to in and around the Western Cape, Cape Town, George, Wilderness, Hermanus and other cool places :)

Published on Wednesday, April 5th, 2006 at 8:06 am

Click here for directions and permit information.

With permits at last, we set out on Saturday morning to hike the Steenbras River Trail out at Gordon’s Bay. It was great to see Allan and Joanne again and meet their church group.


We left quite early in the day and it was still pretty shady when we got to the first pool.

Looking at the pool The pool

We passed by the second pool and stopped for lunch at the third. Looking up the valley there must be more pools hidden there that we’ll have to find next time. Allan says the trail extends all the way up to the dam and the N2. I’d definitely then have to pack more lunch!

Luckily we had the whole place to ourselves and had a good time chilling under the waterfall and catching a tan on the rocks before heading back.

The way back The river

Edit: We did this hike again in 2007 (Steenbras River Trail 2007)

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27 Responses to “Crystal Pools Hike”

  1. [...] hiked one pool further than when I hiked this last year with Allan and Jo. From here there are at least two more pools to explore but it was way past lunch [...]

  2. Hi Guys

    How do I get permits for Crystal Pools? i’ve tried Cape Nature, but they seem to be a bit lost themselves.


  3. Hi!
    Please, urgently need to know how to hike to Crystal Pools!!!
    How do we hike there? We don’t want a huge hike, we have some not-so-fit people with us, so not the dogs-leg route please :)
    But PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE can you tell me how to get there? We’re coming from Cape Town city.

    Thanks!!!!!! My email is or my cell is 0721172168! Thanks a mil

  4. Hey Shelley, I’ll drop you an email too, but for anyone else who’s also interested…

    From CT, take the N2 towards St Lowry’s Pass but turn off before the pass to Gordon’s Bay. It’s also known as the back route to Hermanus. Once you get to the T-Junction at Gordon’s Bay, take a left and drive with the mountain on your left and sea on your right around the cliffs. Keep an eye out on your right hand side for the Sunbird Guest Lodge and after you see it you’ll drive over the bridge pictured in this post. Immediately after the bridge there is a parking lot on the right hand side of the road. Park there and cross the road. You’ll see a wooden hut and that’s where the entrance is to the hike.

    For permits, call Sunbird Guest House (021) 856 1740.

  5. Please book us for Chrystal pools 31 Dec — we are traveling form Fish Hoek and
    aim to get their at 9am. We are a family of 7


  6. Hi Dianne

    I can’t make a booking for you as I’m not connected to Cape Nature or the reserve that this hike is in. When I did the hike, I called Sunbird Guest House (021) 856 1740 to organise permits. They should be able to sort out permits for you or tell you who you need to contact.

    Hope you enjoy the hike!

  7. Hi, thanks for the info on the site – we’ve just completed the hike to crystal pools on new year’s day. The lady at Sunbird Guest House was very helpful – i called ahead to make sure that our group of 12 would be allowed entry (they don’t do bookings but i think they monitor the amount of traffic in the reserve so that it doesnt get too crowded). We stopped at Sunbird to collect permits (R15pp) and she was very helpful in telling us exactly what to look out for (yellow foot-painted path, rickety wooden bridge, babboons, etc), where to park, and safety precautions, etc. The area was badly damaged by the fire, but still so beautiful, and the greenery has already started to flourish just weeks after the fire. We also stopped at the third pool, lunched and swam our hearts out! Definitely worth another trip to discover the other pools!

  8. Hi

    I was wondering if dogs are allowed on the Crystal Pools hike?


  9. I’m not sure if dogs are permitted on the trail. And I’m not even sure who you could ask. Kogelberg is the closest nature reserve but I don’t think they control this area. You can reach them on (021) 659 3500. Or you could try the SAN Parks, I’m looking for the phone number now, but their website is down at the moment (

  10. Yes…we going this Sunday!! im hoping that the weather stay so good. WHOOHOO!

  11. Hey!
    We just went wthis Saturday past. We were 12 people in our group. We went all the way up to the last fourth pool – and it was glorious – however my thigh muscles are in agony from the decent back – but soooo worth it!!

  12. We went to hike “Crystal Pools” last month. We got to Sunbird Lodge by 9am only to be told that they had already issued ± 100 permits that morning, so we certainly were not going to go. Dogs are not allowed as there are baboons. Watch out for them, they can be quite nasty!! Something needs to be done to curb so many people being allowed in. We went on to Betty’s Bay and did a lovely hike round the Palmiet River, not seeing anyone else.

  13. Well today we are taking some of our youth to Crystal pools and its going to be my 13th or 14 trip the place is awesome. Last time i went a baboon stole my shoe…. anyway if you want tickets there is the sunbird lodge there, like 100m from the entrance and they sell tickets for R15 a person.

  14. Hi,myself & a few friends are planning on doing this hike, to the 1st pool though as id like to take my kids along. How easy/difficult would it be, will it be wise to take them along?

  15. Hi Shaakira. It depends on how old the kids are, the hike is quite flat and not strenuous but I wouldn’t take kids along that are too young. Not having kids myself it’s difficult to say what age would be too young. Be sure to take along water and hats though so that they don’t get too hot.

  16. Hi How steep is the climb I sprained my ankle 16th January on another hike coming doen and it is still not 100% so a little scared but sooo want to try again. Is it very up and down and how steep is it? Thanks

  17. Hi Fox Fitness

    The hike isn’t that steep up to the first set of pools but there is a little climbing involved in getting to the higher pools. There is also a bit of a descent at the start of the hike, but I don’t remember it being strenuous.

    Perhaps do the hike in boots with good ankle support to keep the movement of the ankle restricted just incase.

    Hope you enjoy it!

  18. how many KMs is ths hike to each pool?

  19. I don’t remember exactly but I don’t think it’s more than 5kms to the pools.

  20. Hi may i know if a group, say 15-20, can hike and braai at the pools. Or is there a place/lodge where people can do such.

  21. I’m pretty sure that the group size is fine but I don’t know if there are braai areas on the hike or even if braai are permitted. You could try phone Cape Nature to find the number of the organization that owns the area that the hike is in. Cape Nature’s number is 0861 CAPENATURE (227 362 8873).

  22. Hey Guys,

    did any one of you make it to the top of the montain?
    I am from Germany and I walked about a week ago to the 4th pool.
    Someone told me that there are about 10 or 12 pools to the top of the mountain. It took aprox. 2 1/2 hours to the 4th pool.
    I made a lot of pictures on the way up.
    Does anyone have pictures or mabe a video tape that shows the other rock pools or maybe the landscape on top?
    If yes, pleas contact me. I would love the see the pictures because I really love the pools and this amazing landscape…

    Email to


  23. hi there.

    i went up to the pools this morning and had a wonderfull time, bought permits even though no-one checked them :)
    The lady at the Guesthouse were exceptionaly helpfull and friendly.
    However, when i returned to my car, the side indicator was missing, this was while there was a roadblock AT the parking lot. so just a word of advice, IF you can , rather park at the guest house and walk from there. it may add about 5/10 minutes to the walk, but it saves your car from being vandalised

  24. Hey Craig

    Thanks for the advice. My friends and I are planning on going tomorrow morning. We’ll park at the guest house to save our cars from needless torment :)

  25. It was our 1st but def not the last… was off the chain & the baboons are characters lol but beware they will rob you. The walk aint long & the inevitable is beautiful as you can c by the pics added on this website. Enjoy & go crazy…

  26. When is crystal pools opening again>>>

  27. Hi there,
    me and few friends planning on doing the hike tomorrow and new regulations or the price for permits?

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