Once upon a time, high up within the Mpumalanga mountains, highwaymen would steal gold from passing coaches leaving the mining town of Pilgrim’s Rest. This is how the road earned its title of Robbers Pass. Today, at the top of Robbers Pass, you will find a treasure of a different sort – a blissful mountain sanctuary called Crystal Springs .
Often enshrouded in a cloak of mist, due to its elevated location, the RCI Gold Crown Resort is huge at 2400 hectares. The property consists of clusters of lodges set amid beautiful gardens, interspersed with towering pine forests and adjoined by a game farm. We arrived at the picturesque resort after an afternoon of exploring Mpumalanga’s scenic waterfalls and viewpoints.
Although it was fully booked due to the public holiday, it didn’t feel crowded at all, simply due to its expansive area and abundant leisure options. Check -in was friendly and efficient and we were given a quick overview of the resort and its facilities. We drove down the beautiful road to our chalet, deeper into the mountains and unpacked the car, then settled down to watch the beautiful sunset painting hues of orange, purple and crimson over the distant peaks.
The 4-star accommodation options include one, two, or three-bedroomed lodges, apartments, and clubhouse suites and cater for groups of 2 to 8. The three-bedroomed lodges have a washing machine and a dishwasher. For the rest, there is a laundromat.
The resort is self-catering so make sure that you take your own amenities and groceries. However, if you do forget anything, there is a convenience store near the reception area which sells a wide range of items. And if you don’t feel like cooking, you can enjoy the warm and cosy ambience at Le Fera Restaurant as you tuck into a pizza or a steak, or one of their many fish and vegetarian dishes.
We stayed in a beautifully appointed face-brick lodge overlooking the mountains. It had an en-suite double bedroom, a twin bedroom for the kids with another bathroom, an open-plan kitchen, a dining and lounge area and a private patio with braai facilities. The mountain-facing rooms have floor to ceiling glass windows and sliding doors so that you can enjoy the view at all times. Beware of leaving them open though as the monkeys can become a nuisance.
A fireplace in the lounge, panel heaters in the bedrooms and heated towel rails in the bathrooms provide snug relief from the cold winds which grip the resort at nights and some days too. Some warm clothing is advised too.
There are abundant activities at the resort, both indoor and outdoor. Outdoor activities include tennis, squash, chess, jungle gyms, and mini golf under the shade of the trees. There are four swimming pools on the premises, of which two are deliciously heated. Walking trails are also available.
Indoor activities include a games room with electronic and board games, a pool table and table tennis. A kiddies entertainment programmes with structured activities is handed to you on arrival during the school holidays. Le Fera Health & Beauty Spa offers treatments for teenagers and adults.
Those over the age of 16 years also have access to the Clubhouse facilities. There are Jacuzzis, a sauna, a steam room, an indoor heated pool, a gym and a small library. While my kids had fun at the games room, my husband and I enjoyed ourselves at the Clubhouse.
Safari addicts like me can get their bush fix at the 2400 hectare game farm. Animals such as zebras, giraffes, and many other types of plains game roam the game farm and often venture out to the chalets. Leopards, caracals and other small cats also live there but are not seen as often – except by the late night staff. Bird watchers will have a great time too – with many different species inhabiting the area. There are morning and afternoon open-vehicle game drives and self-driving is also permitted.
If you can drag yourself away from the resort, the historic town of Pilgrims Rest and its namesake, the Pilgrims Rest golf course are a short drive away. Kruger National Park is about an hour away and other Mpumalanga attractions are within short proximity as well.
With such an abundance of activities in such a beautiful environment, it is easy to see why Crystal Springs is rated as one of South Africa’s best big family resorts. Wherever I looked, I saw families having fun together. My kids made new friends and I met a long-lost cousin from Kwazulu-Natal who I hadn’t seen in ages. I left the resort reluctantly, but revitalized by the fresh mountain air.
For more information, go to Crystal Springs or book here.
See things to do in Mpumalanga.
Here are more photos of Mpumalanga that will make you want to go there.
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Wow,we stayed there over the September long weekend, I still remember it like yesterday, beautiful serene,u wake-up to the sound of birds,my kids were fascinated by the monkeys on their Windows in the morning looking for food ,heated pools,the spa,,the list is endless. i would love to go again
It's a beautiful resort with so much to do - and the views are amazing. Glad you enjoyed it.
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Its the perfect getaway... Beautiful & serene...
This is great!
Some really nice stuff on this website, I really enjoy it.
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Hi, very nice post. I was looking for something similar to this. Thanks for this useful information.
So cool, the views must be amazing from the rooms. I always love a little history to a place and being near a road called Robbers Pass does sound exciting. The "resort" comes across as neat and clean and it's good to know that they have various residential options. I always like it when a place goes a little out of its way to make itself family friendly and that seems to be the case here. Thanks
What a gorgeous resort to visit! I can't say I've ever been to a resort where I had to self-cater, but it's nice that they have a place close by the buy groceries and a restaurant, too. This place is definitely worth the views!
Wow this looks absolutely dreamy! Especially the view from the balconies. I'd love to stay there for sure
Crystal Springs looks amazing. The lodges are so luxurious and the view from your bedroom is sensational. I could lose hours watching that sunset. Good to know that you have to bring your own groceries.
Wow this places looks awesome!! I love how big the kitchen is and the surroundings are amazing! When we finally visit South Africa, I will check this place out!!
The sunset and the bedroom got me! I can already even feel the beauty of this place.
In combination with the wildlife animals and the peaceful surrounding of this area... this truly seems to be a celestial place. Howe much is one night for such 4-star accommodation options include two bedroomed lodges?
It's a wonderful place to relax and unwind Hendrik. You can view the current rates here: http://www.crystalsprings.co.za/rates.php
Wow what a serene place to getaway and relax. I love how the name "Robber's Pass" came about...what an interesting history. Good to know that there's still a restaurant in the hotel, just in case you don't want to cook. Would love to visit this place!
The forest looks lovely! The place seems to have a lot for kids! How do you get here... any public transport... buses or trains?
Beautifully written review. We stayed there over the April public holidays. An amazing place, wouldn't mind going back there over and over 🙂
Thanks Fatima. Crystal Springs is one of those family favourite holiday destinations that one could one go to every year.
Wow lovely feeling homesick for Africa now!
Sorry Samanthra - hope you'll be visiting South Africa again soon.