The last time we walked the Echo Ravine Trail from Glen Reenen, Joubert was still a bit too young to join. This time around Marilize and I could finally share this beautiful walk with our son, something we’ve been looking forward to for some time.
Glen Reenen Rest Camp is one of our favoured options for an overnight stay when visiting Golden Gate Highlands National Park. The camp has an amazing setting surrounded by the magnificent mountains, with two crystal clear mountain streams flowing past and converging at one end, and is frequented by an equally impressive diversity of wildlife – we showed you the antics of the baboons yesterday, as well as the ground woodpeckers that call Glen Reenen home – just one of many kinds of birds that you’ll find there, and at night you may be lucky to see a jackal or various kinds of antelope roaming between the huts and campsites. It is also a fantastic base from which to explore the Park, be it on foot, horseback or in your own vehicle.
Glen Reenen, and Golden Gate Highlands National Park, is managed by the South African National Parks and is an easy 350 to 400km drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria.
People will always find the primates entertaining, and the baboon troops in Golden Gate Highlands National Park is no exception. However, when they come foraging between the accommodation units and in the camping site at Glen Reenen Rest Camp they can really cause havoc. They’ll inspect every open window to see what’s inside a car, tent or hut, and will help themselves to whatever they find that even vaguely resembles food, while the naughty little ones can cause quite a lot of damage to property and structures with their rough-and-tumble play.
Glen Reenen Rest Camp in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park is one of the best places in the country to go searching for the Ground Woodpecker, a bird that occupies open, rocky hillsides in arid scrubland, fynbos and grasslands and occurs only in upland parts of South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho.
With a length of 30cm and a weight up to 130g, this is the largest woodpecker in South Africa. They can usually be found in pairs or small family groups, and unlike other, more well-known, woodpeckers search for food (mostly ants) on the ground and among rocks rather than in trees. They are always to be found near water, and usually very conspicuous thanks to their load calls and habit of using high vantage points to watch for danger. Most breeding takes place in early spring, when 3 eggs are laid in nesting chambers at the end of tunnels excavated in vertical soil banks. Some of these tunnels are occupied year-round and not only during the nesting season.
Ground Woodpeckers are common over most of their range and not currently considered to be under any threat to their survival, as their preferred habitat is mostly inaccessible and largely unsuited to human habitation or agriculture.
At long last our end-of-year holidays have started, and we find ourselves back at Glen Reenen Rest Camp in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park – a place that certainly deserved its name this evening thanks to a beautiful sunset setting the sandstone formations aglow!
Looking back at the marvelous places we stayed at while exploring South Africa’s wild places in 2015 😀
> Lower Sabie, Olifants and Shingwedzi, Kruger National Park, December 2015 (trip reports to follow soon!)
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