This is absolutely great news, the favourite Crystal Pools hike was closed due to a fire and ground erosion. These two hikes will now be re-opened on the 2nd of November. Great news as Crystal Pools is one of the best places to hike to in the summer.
The Steenbras River Gorge and Crystal Pools Hiking Trail is scheduled to reopen on 1 November 2012. The City’s Environmental Resource Management Department has introduced a new permitting system and rules and regulations that will improve visitor safety and management of the area.
Both nature spots, which form part of the Steenbras Nature Reserve and the greater Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, were closed in May 2011 due to fire damage, soil erosion, vegetation degradation, uncontrolled access and visitor safety issues.
The closure of the area to the public gave it an opportunity to recover. During this time, reserve management worked on introducing a new management system based on similar areas managed by other conservation authorities, such as ‘Suicide Gorge’ (Cape Nature). The new system will introduce a carrying capacity of 50 people per day.
Visitors must be in possession of a pre-booked and paid permit in order to enter the area. No permits will be issued at the entrance to the gorge. Until an electronic booking system is in place, bookings can be made at the Helderberg Nature Reserve main gate during operating hours. The gate hours are 07:30 – 20:00 from December to February; 07:30 – 19:00 in March and October; and 07:30 – 17:30 from April to October.
The following information is imperative to visitors planning a hike in the Steenbras Nature Reserve:
- Steenbras River Gorge is only open from 1 November to the end of April and will be closed during the winter period.
- A maximum carrying capacity of 50 persons per day will be permitted to enter the area.
- In the interests of visitor safety, a minimum of three and maximum of 10 persons per group will be allowed.
- No children under the age of 12 will be allowed to walk in this area.
- Hikers need to be fit to complete this trail.
- There will be a tariff of R60,00 per person, as per the City’s tariff document.
Due to an extended period of rainfall and the river levels being very high, the City’s Environmental Resource Management Department’s Biodiversity Management Branch is still installing new signage and attending to general maintenance of the trail. However, it is hoped that most of the infrastructure will be in place before the end of November 2012.
“We are grateful that the majority of the public have honoured the closure and have not entered the area illegally. Unfortunately, there are always a few who have no regard for the management decisions made in the interest of the area and for the safety of visitors; however the new booking system will also make it easier for authorities to apprehend transgressors,” says Hayley Wittridge of the Environmental Resource Management Department’s Biodiversity Management Branch.