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.


The Steenbras River Gorge and Crystal Pools Hiking Trail, which forms part of the Steenbras Nature Reserve and is also part of the greater Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve, was closed in May 2011. Fire damage, soil erosion, vegetation degradation, uncontrolled access and visitor safety issues were all reasons which contributed to the area being closed for this period.


The closure of this area to the public has given it an opportunity to recover. During this time, reserve management have worked on introducing a new management system which is based on similar areas managed by other conservation authorities; for example Suicide Gorge (Cape Nature). The new system will introduce a carrying capacity of 50 people per day. Permits have to be pre-booked and paid for before visitors arrive to walk in the area.


Due to an extended period of rainfall and the river levels being very high, staff of the Environmental Resource Management Department’s Biodiversity Management Branch are still working on the implementation of new signage and general maintenance of the trail. However, it is hoped that most of the infrastructure will be in place before the end of November 2012.


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.


The City would like to thank users of this area for their patience and support during the past few months.


“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,” said Hayley Wittridge of the Environmental Resource Management Department’s Biodiversity Management Branch.


For more information on and queries about the Steenbras Nature Reserve please email: For more information on the City’s Nature Reserves, please visit


Issued by: Integrated Strategic Communication and Branding Department, City of Cape Town