Hot springs have long been known to have beneficial effects on health, as well as a relaxing, rejuvenating way to while away time. High in natural minerals due to geothermal activities deep below the ground, which causes the water that bubbles up through the earth to be heated, their waters are thought to provide physical benefits to the skin.
Whatever the scientific reason, there is no doubt that the warm, cocooning sensation of the water has a definite impact on one’s overall feeling of wellbeing!
The Western Cape area is fortuitously dotted with these springs and in many cases resorts and spas have sprung up around these natural wonders.
Closest to Cape Town at around an hour and a half drive is along the N2 highway at Caledon, another natural spring bubbles up from below the ground. While the spring has been used by indigenous peoples for thousands of years, it was first discovered by westerners when the Dutch explored the area in the late 17th century, although the town was only founded around a century after this initial discovery.
Over the years, many, camping, resort and spa developments came and went from around these springs but they are now the site of the Caledon Hotel, Casino and Spa, a hotel development.
In the opposite direction, on the way to the small town of Montagu, lies another famous spring and resort complex, Goudini Spa. Located just before Worcester in the beautiful Breede River Valley, the resort offers accommodation, leisure activities,and, of course, the hot springs. The town has become world-famous for its hot springs, with as many as 20 springs concentrated in this area, some reaching temperatures of up to 42 degrees Celsius.
And unlike some sulfur springs, the waters are soft and sweet smelling. Local lore has it that a settler of the area had injured his hand when an ox wagon wheel ran over it, but that after dipping his hand in the healing waters, it healed much more rapidly than expected.
This, and certainly other such tales, has led to the areas reputation for healing waters. Several small hotel and resort facilities have developed in the area, and visitors to the area have a bouquet of options to choose from.
Another natural spring and resort complex in the picturesque town of Citrusdal, situated on the N7 around two hours drive from Cape Town is The Baths. Originally founded in 1739, and owned by the same family since 1903, the baths are complimented by 15 self catering chalets, caravan and camping facilities, and various activities such as tennis, hiking trails, mountain biking and birdwatching, along with a restaurant, this is another good choice for those wishing to get away from it all.