Autumn Highlands Holidays – Golden Gate

About time we started telling you about our autumn holidays in the mountains in detail, isn’t it!?

Our first stop was an old and familiar favourite: Golden Gate Highlands National Park in the eastern Free State Province, with scenery so unique that photos from there are instantly recognisable. Here in the foothills of the Maluti and Drakensberg ranges, rugged rocks, hillsides green with waving grass and crystal-clear streams of fresh water all beckon to be explored, and the de Wets just can’t resist!

Walking around Golden Gate is the best way to experience the variety of beautiful wildflowers adorning this special place.

And then while taking in the floral splendour you are bound to notice the astounding diversity of insects, amphibians and reptiles that have made this highland habitat home.

Golden Gate also boasts with a wonderful array of birds, many kinds of which are hard to find elsewhere in the country. During the 4 days we spent in the Park we identified 56 species of bird, just a small slice of the 180 kinds that have been recorded here since the Park was proclaimed over 50 years ago.

Golden Gate’s also home to a selection of mammals, both big and small, that are well adapted to the sometimes harsh climatic conditions of a mountainous abode, and these are often encountered while exploring the Park on foot, horseback or the comfort of a vehicle.

Glen Reenen is one of six SANParks-managed establishments offering accommodation to visitors at Golden Gate. On this trip we spent four nights in cottage 27, which has a lovely view from its veranda of the Mushroom Rocks and the glen from which the camp takes its name.

Golden Gate lies about 400km south of Pretoria. Our favourite route to the Park is over Sasolburg, Heilbron, Bethlehem and Clarens, though the quickest option is probably via Harrismith and the N3-highway.

Our favourite route to Golden Gate, via Sasolburg, Heilbron, Petrus Steyn and Bethlehem, a distance of about 400km from Pretoria (map drawn with Google Maps)

From Golden Gate we made our way to Royal Natal National Park in the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, and we’ll be sharing some pictures from there in following posts.

 

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37 thoughts on “Autumn Highlands Holidays – Golden Gate

  1. Pingback: Autumn Highlands Holidays – uKhahlamba Drakensberg | de Wets Wild

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      100% correct again, Joanne!
      When the family Van Reenen arrived at Golden Gate long ago they did so in the late afternoon, and the setting sun cast its golden rays on the sandstone to welcome them, prompting them to give their new farm the name Golden Gate – the name stuck, and to this day that magnificent scene can still be enjoyed!

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  2. Playamart - Zeebra Designs

    Wow! What a collection of images – name your favorite topic and it’s here! My first glance at the stone chat, and I thought that plume was part of the bird! My artistic imagination quickly took that and ‘ran’ with an illustration in my mind of a bird with a really tall crest – and a brightly-colored finial!

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  3. perdebytjie

    Dit was nou so ‘n fantastiese verslag. Jy het my nou lus gemaak om gou weer soontoe te gaan. Die veldblom foto’s is vir my die heel mooiste.Pragtige inskrywing Dries!PS(Gaan dit beter?)

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Ai, dit is baie gaaf van jou, Dina! Golden Gate is n pragtige plek – op groot en klein skaal!
      Ek waardeer dit regtig dat jy aan my dink! Op hierdie stadium gaan dit nog tussen die boom en die bas en het ons nog nie sekerheid oor wat met my aangaan en hoe dit behandel kan word of herstel kan word nie. Ek is nou onder n spesialis se behandeling en moet Maandag my ingewandes bo en onder laat bekyk moet allerhande “skopiee”… My arms is al vol kneuskolle van al die bloedtoetse en nog lyk dit nie of dit die einde daarvan is nie.
      So, toe besluit ek om bietjie virtueel Golden Gate toe te vlug.

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  4. lizamroux

    Ek het vir 5 jaar in die Oos Vrystaat gebly en is van tyd tot tyd daardeur. Mens raak so lief vir die sandsteen berge en unieke voëls. Ek is veral mal oor jou highland retreat foto. Sien uit na die Royal Natal fotos!

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      We always have great fun at Golden Gate, Sylvia, and this time was no exception. It really is a favourite of ours.
      And I must admit to praying all the time while photographing that Leprous Grasshopper – the thing is huge, and if it jumped onto me my screams might just have caused a rockfall…

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  5. scrapydo2.wordpress.com

    Nou het ek darem lekker saam met julle gekuier. Ek was ongelukkig nooit in Golden Gate gewees nie, dis my verlies. Hierdie reeks fotos was so mooi dit het gevoel of ek sommer daar is. Daardie Unknown sprinkaantjies kan darem vir jou spring. AS mens so in die veld loop spring hul gereeld op. Nogal moeilik om hul sommer te vang. Het as kind hul altyd gevang en dan gekyk hoe ver hul kan spring van my hand af. Dankie vir lekker kuier.

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