Winding across the rolling hills of the Mpumalanga Drakensberg is the historic route to Pilgrim's Rest. This road once descended from Lydenburg all the way to the coast, emerging at Delgoa Bay (now Maputo). After the Pilgrim's Rest gold rush began during the late 1800's, it came to be nicknamed Robbers Pass due to regular hold-ups of stagecoaches and travelers by highwaymen and robbers - a name it bears to this day.
Now the pass forms part of a very scenic drive down to the Lowveld featuring endless idyllic views en route to Pilgrim's Rest.
Seventeen kilometres down the pass lies Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge, a picturesque resort situated on 5000 hectares of pristine countryside.
Beautiful gardens combine with exquisite natural scenery to create a haven incorporating spectacular cliffs and gorges, pine and indigenous forests, sweeping views, murmuring streams, plunging waterfalls and cool, blue pools. Birdlife is plentiful and wild animals such as zebra, wildebeest, giraffe, antelope, jackal and leopard populate the nature reserve.
Man-made facilities complement nature with facebrick and thatch, bordered by colourful flowerbeds and ornamental ponds. Facilities make the most of the sweeping views and many activities centre around the great outdoors.
Crystal Springs is conveniently situated to Mpumalanga's attractions - 9kms from historic Pilgrim's Rest - where you can eat al fresco, wander around quaint shops, play golf or do a tour harking back to gold rush days, including an opportunity to pan for gold.
Further afield lay the tranquil forestry towns of Sabie and Graskop, surrounded by tall pine trees and plunging waterfalls such as MacMac, Lone Creek or Bridal Veil Falls. Not far from Graskop is the spectacular Blyde River Canyon, affording magnificent views into the Lowveld, and the interesting rock formations of the Bourke's Luck Portholes.
One hours' drive from Crystal Springs is the world-famous Kruger National Park - home to the Big Five and other Southern African game species, not to mention a host of birdlife.
There are two types of accommodation depending on your preference. The 164 facebrick-and-thatch lodges offer comfortable self-catering accommodation. Private wooden decks and enormous picture windows frame views across steep gorges and rolling hills. Lodges sleep 2, 4, 6 or 8 people each and are semi-detached.
Each unit is attractively furnished, with facilities including a television (M-Net and limited DSTV), an outdoor electric braai (barbecue) and a fireplace in the lounge. Bathrooms are equipped with towels and some complimentary toiletries.
Kitchens are fully equipped with a fridge, cutlery, stove, microwave oven, crockery, glassware, pots and pans, kettle, toaster. The eight sleeper lodges also have a washing machine and tumble drier. The lodges are serviced once daily.
In addition Crystal Springs has 28 Clubhouse Suites, situated at the Clubhouse. These hotel-style rooms sleep two people each in a choice of double or twin rooms. Each room is ensuite with bath or bath and shower, and is equipped with a television (M-Net and limited DSTV), fireplace, telephone and tea/coffee service.
A kitchenette is situated behind folding doors and comprises a compact two plate stove, sink, bar fridge, microwave and a selection of cutlery, crockery, glassware, pots and pans, kettle and toaster.
Wide verandahs are equipped with outdoor furniture and a panoramic view of undulating hills. Communal braai facilities are available and ample parking is available in close proximity to all units.
Crystal Springs Mountain Lodge has a wide variety of amenities and facilities available, so that guests won't run out of things to do.
Four swimming pools (1 heated and 3 cold) are situated at different locations throughout the resort and surrounded by beautiful gardens and there’s plenty of garden furniture throughout so you can just sit and contemplate the marvellous surrounds.
Floodlit tennis courts mean that keen tennis players need not restrict their games to daylight hours and the squash court will keep keen squash players in top form.
An indoor games room equipped with table tennis, pool tables, board games and DSTV will keep you entertained should the weather make outdoor activities uncomfortable.
An attractive putt-putt course will provide hours of entertainment for the whole family and trampolines and a small playground will keep the children busy.
The small shop sells cold drinks, crisps, sweets, ice creams and a small selection of general groceries, vegetables, bread and milk.
The Clubhouse which is available to those over 16 only is equipped with a sauna, two Jacuzzi's, an indoor-heated pool, steam bath, sundeck, gym and change rooms.
The resident beauty therapist offers a wide range of beauty treatments, massage and aromatherapy.
Go trout fishing in the large trout dam on the resort’s own nature reserve and bird watch to your heart’s content.
Walk one of the five self-guided walking trails laid out in the nature reserve. These vary from relaxed walks that will take an hour or two, to longer hikes that will take you the better part of the day to do.
Trails meander through pine and indigenous forests, besides spectacular cliffs and gorges and along rivers and streams festooned with cool pools.
Self-drive through the nature reserve - but remember to check with reception first as to the condition of the dirt roads, particularly during the wet season when you may run the risk of getting bogged down.
A visit to Crystal Springs offers you a complete holiday experience. You need never leave the lodge to experience some of the very best that South Africa has to offer.