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Nature's Way: Secret Rock Pools And Hidden Waterfalls to Explore

Picnic spots near undisturbed waterfalls and lesser-known beach and rock pools that are much closer than you think

From the biggest rock pool in the Western Cape to the mountain home of a population of Scottish trout in SA, and few waterfalls and secret swimming spots you won’t believe are just around the corner. These are the hidden natural treasures to discover, whether you’re seeking adventure or want to bring the family on a special experience.

FISH AND SWIM ALONG THE RIVER
The Witte River, just outside of Wellington, flows from the highest valley of the Bainskloof mountains. In the river also swims the Loch Leven brown trout (brought from Scotland in the 1800s), so it’s also a popular fishing spot. It’s also a great place to enjoy a picnic by the river. You’ll find the river at the start of the Bobbejaans River junction, which is on the Bobbejaans River hiking trail. First-timers should hire a guide.
Permit: Yes, to hike and swim. Buy one from the Bainskloof Corner Lodge.
Cost: R50p/p for adults, R30p/p for children
Location: Bainskloof, Wellington
Contact: +27(0)21 864 1159

IGER: @jean.mortlock

 
 
 
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A post shared by Jean Mortlock (@jean.mortlock) on Mar 10, 2018 at 8:14am PST

DEEP ROCK POOLS AND BRAVE CLIMBS
A 7km hike takes you along a scenic trail in the Limietberg Nature Reserve. The path follows the Krom River up the valley and into an indigenous riverine forest. The trail has a few swimming spots along the way, but the last two are worth the hike: a brave climb takes you to a deep rock pool and a massive waterfall. Be aware that there is no cellphone reception on this hike and dogs aren’t allowed into the reserve.
Permit: Yes
Cost: R30p/p, bookings are a minimum of two people
Location: Du Toitskloof Mountains, close to Paarl
Contact: +27 (0)21 483 0000

IGER: @escapist_adventures

 
 
 
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A post shared by Escapist (@escapist_adventures) on Jan 17, 2019 at 7:05am PST

CHASING WATERFALLS
Cecilia Forest might not offer the deepest of rock pools, but you’ll definitely be able to cool off after a three-hour hike gets you to some of the most beautiful waterfalls the Western Cape has to offer. The most popular route through the luscious forest is from the Cecilia Forest car park, on the contour path through Newlands Forest, keeping right you’ll reach the uphill path marked Rooikat Ravine, which will lead you around Cecilia Ridge into Cecilia Ravine, where the Cecilia Waterfall is located.
Permit: No
Cost: Free
Location: Newlands Forest, Newlands
Contact: Call SANParks on +27 (0)12 428 9111

IGER: @vixen_ludorum

 
 
 
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A post shared by Vicki Vermeulen (@vixen_ludorum) on Jan 27, 2019 at 6:03am PST

THE BIGGEST ROCK POOL IN THE WESTERN CAPE
Die Hel is an awesome, large rock pool in Groot Winterhoek (just north of Tulbagh) with an equally large feat to get there. A 14km hike will get you to De Tronk after which you’ll need to head on a 5km hike to Die Hel – one of the most breathtaking rock pools in the Cape. In fact, it’s our biggest rock pool (approximately 15 metres wide) and it’s surrounded by waterfalls and cliffs to jump off of. The hike to Die Hel is fairly easy until you reach the descent to the pool. Hikers are warned to take it easy going down.
Permit: Yes
Cost: R60p/p for adults, R30p/p for kids 3—12
Location: near Tulbagh
Contact: +27 (0)22 931 2860

IGER: @the_colourful_hiker

 
 
 
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A post shared by Stacey-Lee Swart (@the_colourful_hiker) on Oct 17, 2016 at 12:54am PDT

THRILLING JUMPS AND WATERFALLS
This is for adrenaline junkies and it’s advised that you travel with an experienced hiker, if you are not one yourself, before undertaking this jaunt. You’ll be trekking for a full eight-hour day, covering 17km in the Boland Mountains. Cliffs are as high as 20m, and you’ll likely be wet throughout as you jump, swim, and scramble. Suicide Gorge is a one-of-a-kind experience and one unique to the Western Cape.
Permit: Yes
Cost: R120p/p, plus R40p/p if you don’t have a WildCard
Location: Grabouw
Contact: +27 21 483 0190

IGER: @_leon_martin_ 

 
 
 
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A post shared by Leon Martin (@_leon_martin_) on Apr 11, 2016 at 6:55am PDT

GARDEN ROUTE ESCAPADE
The Drupkelder rock pools are situated in an ecologically sensitive area in Knysna, so SANParks only allows 12 people in per day. The 40-minute forest trail to the pools isn’t too steep and the pools are suitable for kids who can swim. There are also a few waterfalls and small cliffs in this scenic swimming spot.
Permit: Yes
Cost: R22p/p for adults, R12p/p for kids under 13
Location: Knysna
Contact: +27 (0)44 302 5600

IGER: @ashathealien

 
 
 
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SUNSET SWIM SPOT
Saunders Rock Beach, named after the imposing granite rocks in the area, is a mostly wind-free beach and has white sand and beautiful ocean views. Located in Bantry Bay, this spot is close enough to the city for last-minute plans and is totally free to enjoy. You’re able to watch the sun drop below the horizon from this beachy area while cooling off in the tidal pool and Lion’s Head behind you.
Permit: No
Cost: Free
Location: Bantry Bay
Contact: +27 (0)21 439 4332

IGER: @eih_la

 
 
 
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A post shared by Heila Soraia (@eih_la) on Jan 9, 2019 at 11:08am PST

KLOOFING CANYON CRAZINESS
A day out to this canyon should be on the bucket list of all adventure junkies. You abseil down a 65m high waterfall and go kloof jumping into different rock pools along the gorge from heights ranging from 3m to 22m. 
Permit: No
Cost: Free
Location: False Bay
Contact: +27 (0)21 424 4760

IGER: @robzie3

 
 
 
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A post shared by Robyn Luden (@robzie3) on Nov 18, 2016 at 7:42am PST

NATURAL POOLS IN THE MOUNTAINS
This popular camping site is 16km from Wellington on Bainskloof Pass in the Limietberg Nature Reserve. The natural pools have waterfalls and you can cliff jump from heights up to 5m. Get there early, day visitors are limited to 120 people per day.
Permit: Yes
Cost: R50p/p for adults, R20p/p for kids
Location: Du Toitskloof Mountains
Contact: +27 (0)21 483 0190   

IGER: @alexpiaramcg

 
 
 
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A post shared by Alex McGregor (@alexpiaramcg) on Jan 31, 2019 at 7:00am PST

CAMPING ROCK POOLSIDE
Located about 3 hours from Cape Town, this campsite boasts tranquil surrounds. Hikes to the pools are fairly easy and not too far from the camping area. Note that you’ll need to bring your own braai grid, there are no electric points in the camping area and there are no card facilities, so you’ll need cash.
Permit: Yes
Cost: R30 per car. Overnight camping fees cost R70p/p for adults, R40 for kids aged 4–17 and free for kids under 4.
Location: Porterville
Contact: +27 (0)22 931 2945

IGER: @elzannesingels

 
 
 
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A post shared by elzanne singels (@elzannesingels) on Jan 29, 2019 at 2:04am PST

ABSEIL, KLOOFING AND JUMPS
About 9kms from Gordon’s Bay in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, you’ll find a natural rock pool along the Crystal Pools hiking trail. It’s popular for abseiling and cliff jumping. A 45-minute hike gets you to the pools. Note that these pools are closed during the winter months and are only open 1 November–30 April.
Permit: Yes
Cost: R60p/p to hike and enter Crystal Pools
Location: Steenbras River Gorge
Contact: +27 (0)76 018 2577

IGER: @just_did_it_again

 
 
 
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A post shared by elroypace (@just_did_it_again) on Jul 16, 2017 at 8:46am PDT

MASSIVE CLIFFS IN CEDERBURG
All it takes is an easy 2km hike to get to the Maalgat Cliffs. The thrill is in the plunge: You can get up cliffs as high as 11m to dive into a 50m long natural rock pool. It’s situated only a short drive from the camping area at Sanddrif in Cederberg.
Permit: Yes
Cost: R30p/p for adults, R15 p/p for kids
Location: Cederberg
Contact: +27 (0)27 482-2825  

IGER: @zarouhi.v.s.a

 
 
 
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A post shared by Jonah Taukolua (@sam_msane) on Nov 26, 2018 at 10:48am PST

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