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Hiking upstream Krom River
I’ve been doing this hike with my family since I was little. I have happy memories of boulder hopping down the river and staring into the deeper pools goggle-clad watching fish. We used to start the hike as early as possible so with our children’s logic the first pool you reach became known as the Breakfast Pool, then came the Lunch Pool, and lastly the Supper Pool.
The beauty of this hike in the Limietberg Nature Reserve is that it’s rewarding from the very start. The path follows the river up the valley and when it veers up onto the hill you have amazing views of the surrounding mountain peaks. Once you turn up into the kloof you’ll walk through magical indigenous riverine forest. There are swimming spots dotted along the way with the last two pools being well worth the extra effort.
Waterfalls and rock pools
We set out early as it’s just over an hour’s drive from Cape Town and we wanted to get started before the midday heat. We’re kitted out in shorts with swimming costumes underneath and our Hi-Tecs: V-lite Total Terrain Lace.
What to bring
- Permit. There is a limited number of permits available every day – this stops the hike from being too crowded and manages the impact on the reserve. See below for permit details.
- Swimming costumes. There are some fantastic pools to swim in along the way and right at the end.
- Goggles and a snorkel are fun to use in the deeper pools.
- Hiking shoes. A pair with good grip would be ideal – there are some slippery parts along the way.
- Sun protection. Sections of the path are exposed so make sure you bring enough sunblock to reapply after swimming.
- Supplies. You’ll need to bring enough water for the whole day plus food to keep you going.
- Children. The walk isn’t too strenuous but if they’re not at all used to hiking you might want to shorten the walk and stop at one of the lower pools.
- Money. You’ll need to pay at the toll to use the Huguenot Tunnel, it costs R52 there and back in a normal car.
- Don’t bring your dogs asthey aren’t allowed in the reserve.
Take the N1 from Cape Town all the way to the Huguenot Tunnel, once you get to the other side of the tunnel there’s a small road on the left with an “Authorised vehicles only” sign. Your permit is your authorisation so take this road to the parking lot.
Follow the Krom River signs to the start of the hike. The path is pretty clear and is marked with little white bootprints painted onto the rocks as well as cairns that people have helpfully built along the way. The path initially leads up over a small cliff (there is a fantastic swimming spot below this which is great for the end of the hike) and then follows the river on the right. You’ll criss-cross back and forth over the river a couple of times.
The path turns up the ravine to a deep rock pool with a waterfall. You can choose to stop here or brave the climb next to the waterfall up a chain. This will take you to an even bigger pool with an even bigger waterfall and is worth the climb. The route up can be difficult and slippery and isn’t recommended unless you’re a fairly able climber. This isn’t a circular route so you take the same path back down the river.
Duration: The hike is about 7kms and can be done in under five hours depending on how long you stop and swim for.
What to look out for
Fauna: We spotted a multitude of frogs as they dove cover in the water, one enormous toad and a glimpses of fish in the pools. A large bird of prey hunted on the other side of the valley as we walked and we spotted a few smaller birds nearby. There are baboons in the area but we’ve never seen them along this hike.
Flora: You’ll find indigenous mountain fynbos which turns to riverine forest in the wetter parts of the kloof. Some fellow hikers pointed out disas alongside the very top waterfall so keep your eye out for these special flowers.
Trivia: This is definitely a summer hike. The river can become difficult to cross during winter and you won’t want to miss out on the swimming (although the water can be pretty icy even in summer).
Contact CapeNature on +27 (0)21 483 0190 to book a permit. You need to book for at least two people and the permits cost R30 per person.
Please note that there’s no cell reception on this hike.
Text by Lindsay Callaghan and photographs by Antonia Heil.
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