Cool off in some of the Cape’s

Cool off in these fantastic Cape dams and rivers

Cool off in some of the Cape’s best dams and rivers

Since outdoor gatherings have been limited to 250 people rendering beaches a possible no-go, why not rather beat the heat with a refreshing dip in one of these beautiful dams or rivers in the Western Cape?

Cool off in some of the Cape’s

Cool off in these fantastic Cape dams and rivers

Summer is firmly here, and temperatures are rising, so what better way to spend the day than on the banks of a river or next to a dam surrounded by spectacular natural beauty and far from Police Minister Bheki Cele’s watchful eye during his Cape Town beach visits on Reconciliation Day 16 December.

The Western Cape is dotted with an incredible array of beautiful dams, reservoirs, and rivers with crystal clear waters and gorgeous rock pools. So, pack your trunks and towels and head to one of the amazing dams and rivers for a day of fun in the sun and swimming in and around Cape Town.

Silvermine Reservoir

Located in the Table Mountain National Park, between Hout Bay and Noordhoek, the Silvermine Reservoir is a fantastic spot for cooling down on hot summer days.

Arguably one of the best dams and rivers for swimming in Cape Town, the Silvermine Reservoir has plenty of secluded picnic spots scattered around the reserve and there is a 1km trail around the reservoir with a boardwalk that makes traveling with wheelchairs or prams easy. Dogs are permitted with a Level 1 “My Activity Permit”.

*Important note: As there are no lifeguards on duty, swimming in the Silvermine Reservoir is done at your own risk.

Where: Silvermine Reservoir in Table Mountain National Park (via M3)

Opening times: Daily, 08:00 to 17:00 (May to August) | Daily, 07:00 to 18:00 (September to April)

Contact details: Table Mountain National Park 021-712-0527 |

Cost: R32 (SA citizens and residents with ID); R16 (SA children, two to 11 years) | R64 (SADC nationals with a valid passport); R32 (SADC children with a valid passport) | R128 (international visitors; standard conservation fee); R64 (international children; standard conservation fee).

Crystal Pools Waterfall

Located just outside the coastal town of Gordon’s Bay in the Steenbras Nature Reserve, the Crystal Pools Waterfall is must-visit if you haven’t already been there.

The reserve offers a fantastic hike-and-swim combination for reasonably fit hikers. The Crystal Pools Hiking Trail starts at the mouth of the Steenbras River and winds its way up into the mountains through indigenous fynbos and boasting breathtaking views.

The first pool is located about 45 minutes from the start of the trail and you can swim in cool clear waters and enjoy a picnic in a shady spot next to the pool. No dogs are allowed.

*Important note: To ensure that the hiking trails don’t get too crowded, a maximum of 50 people are allowed per day. It is essential to book as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

Where: Steenbras Nature Reserve (via N2 and R44)

Opening times: 07:30 to 14:30 (office hours) | 06:30 to 19:00 (hiking trails may differ slightly according to sunrise and sunset)

Contact details: Steenbras Nature Reserve 021-444-6927 | Bookings must be done via e-mail, at least three to five working days before your visit.

Cost: R75 per person

Jonkershoek Nature Reserve

The Jonkershoek Nature Reserve is one of Cape Town’s hidden gems. This beautiful and unspoiled nature reserve in the mountains just outside Stellenbosch is one of the province’s most popular hiking regions and features some of the best freshwater river swimming in the region.

The riverbanks are shaded by ancient trees making for perfect picnic spots and you can fish in the river too. The Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, which includes the smaller Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve, is home to the imposing Jonkershoek mountains and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscapes. Dogs are not allowed in Cape Nature reserves.

*Important note: Only 80 people are allowed into the Assegaaibosch picnic area per day to help with conservation efforts. Admission is on a first-come-first-served basis. No alcohol is allowed into the picnic area.

Where: Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, Jonkershoek Road (via N1), Stellenbosch

Opening times: 07:30 to 16:00 daily

Contact details: Cape Nature 087-087-4118 (reserve office) | 087-087-8250; (permits)

Cost: R50 (adults) | R30 (children)

Klein River

The charming town of Stanford just outside of Cape Town is home to the Klein River which is well worth a visit for a swim. After spending a few hours exploring the lovely little town, which is renowned for its local cheese, craft beers, and cosy coffee shops, head to the river for a refreshing swim in cool, clear waters.

The river passes through the Akkedisberg Pass and the lush meadows of Stanford on its way to the Hermanus Lagoon and is surrounded by beautiful scenery that can be enjoyed on the Stanford Wandelpad walking trail, which meanders along the banks of the river. Dogs are welcome.

Where: King Street, Stanford (via N2 and R43)

Opening times: Open daily

Contact details: Stanford Tourism Bureau 028-3410-340 |

Cost: Free for swimming.

Beaverlac Nature Reserve

Nestled in the Groot Winterhoek Mountains just outside of Porterville, Beaverlac Nature Reserve is a spectacular nature reserve with unbelievably beautiful scenery and idyllic swimming spots. Home to a tranquil dam and myriad rock pools and waterfalls, as well as a variety of exhilarating hiking trails and caves with thousand-year-old rock art to explore, Beaverlac is a nature lover’s paradise.

Beaverlac Nature Reserve is no longer open to day-visitors, but the Beaverlac Campsite is a fantastic spot for an overnight adventure. Bookings can be made online and pay cash at the gate. Dogs are allowed in the campsite, but not in the rock pools where people are swimming.

Where: Beaverlac Campsite, Porterville (via N7)

Opening times: Daily, 07:00 to 21:00

Contact details: Beaverlac Nature Reserve, 022-931-2945

Cost: Free for swimming

The Palmiet River

Located in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve, one of the Western Cape’s most beautiful natural wonders, the Palmiet River is one of the best rivers for swimming in the Cape.

Feeding the apple farms of Grabouw before passing through the town of Kleinmond, the river has clear water and sandy banks that are perfect for picnicking and camping. You can also hike the Palmiet River Trail in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve.

Where: Kogelberg Nature Reserve, via N2 to Kleinmond or via Gordons Bay and Clarens Drive

Opening times: Daily, 07:30 to 16:00 (gate closes at 19:00)

Contact details: Cape Nature 087-087-4118 (reserve office) | 087-087-8250; (permits)

Cost: R50 (adults) | R30 (children)

Important note:

Tourists and locals alike are urged to take necessary precautions when exploring secluded areas, as crimes and accidents do happen.

Those venturing into the Table Mountain National Park should have the following emergency numbers on hand: 086-110-6417 / 107 or 021-480-7700. Criminal incidents should be reported to the nearest police station as soon as able.

The free tracking service @safetymountain is highly recommended as a useful resource for hikers. This allows you to notify local trackers of your contact details, intended route, and travel time via WhatsApp. You are then able to provide hourly updates on your progress and to notify trackers when you are safely off the mountain.