Golden Gate National Park: A Day Trip from Witsieshoek
The Golden Gate Highlands National Park is nestled in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains in the Northern Eastern Free State. It is a mere 1 hour and 15 minute (60 kilometres) drive from Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge and a perfect day outing for guests. It consists of 11 600 hectares of pure highland habitat and is home to a unique blend of flora and fauna. The name Golden Gate is derived from the shades of gold cast by the sun across the sandstone cliffs, most notably on the Brandwag rock. It is an area known for its captivating scenery.
The landscape consists largely of wooded ravine, gullies and grasslands. A large variety of mammals roam the area including Burchell’s zebra, black wildebeest, elands, blesbok, orbi and springbok. Birds of prominence consist of the rare and endangered bearded vulture and the bald ibis which breeds annually in Cathedral Cave. The National Park is also home to some very rare and indigenous flowers including the Watsonias, Arum Lily, Fire Lilies and Red- Hot Pokers.
Established in 1963 the park was originally formed to protect the sandstone rocks which were shelters for the Bushmen at the time. When visiting the park, you will notice how well their cave paintings have been preserved.
Golden Gate National Park enjoys cool Highveld summers with the possibility of thunderstorms in the late afternoon and cold winters where occasional snow does fall.
Some places of interest at the Golden Gate Highlands National Park:
- -The Brandwag buttress rock formation
- -The Van Reenen family graveyard
- -The bird hide at the Langtoon dam
- -Some of the lookout points: Generaalskop viewpoint, Zuluhoek lookout point, Drakensberg view and the Oribi basin
Facilities and activities at the National Park include:
- -A picnic day site for visitors which has ablutions and braai (barbeque) facilities
- -Glen Reenen Restcamp has a general dealer
- -Short nature trails which range from 1 to 5 hours
- -Environmental educational courses from 1 to 5 days
- -Swimming at Glen Reenen restcamp and horse- riding
- -Basotho Cultural Village
Directions from Witsieshoek to Golden Gate National Park
This is a perfect day outing for those looking for a bit of adventure. It is well worth the journey even if it is just for the remarkable scenery. The drive will be around 1 hour 15 minutes and is roughly 60 km’s. Below you will find the directions you will need to follow:
Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge
Head west- 22.5 km
Continue straight onto Mampoi St- 7.1 km
Continue onto R57- 600 m
Take the ramp to R712- 400 m
Turn right onto R712-26.6 km
Restricted usage road- 1.1 km
Restricted usage road- 400 m