Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Travel Guide Africa South Africa Free State Golden Gate Highlands National Park

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Introduction

Golden Gate Highlands National Park is located in Free State, South Africa, near the Lesotho border. It covers an area of 340 km2. The park's most notable features are its golden, ochre, and orange-hued deeply eroded sandstone cliffs and outcrops, especially the Brandwag rock. Another feature of the area is the numerous caves and shelters displaying San rock paintings. Wildlife featured at the park includes mongooses, eland, zebras, and over 100 bird species. It is the Free State's only national park, and is more famous for the beauty of its landscape than for its wildlife. Numerous paleontology finds have been made in the park including dinosaur eggs and skeletons.

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Geography

"Golden Gate" refers to the sandstone cliffs that are found on either side of the valley at the Golden Gate dam. In 1875, a farmer called J.N.R. van Reenen and his wife stopped here as they travelled to their new farm in Vuurland. He named the location "Golden Gate" when he saw the last rays of the setting sun fall on the cliffs.

In 1963, 47.92 km² were proclaimed as a national park, specifically to preserve the scenic beauty of the area. In 1981 the park was enlarged to 62.41 km² and in 1988 it was enlarged to 116.33 km². In 2004 it was announced that the park would be joined with the neighbouring QwaQwa National Park. The amalgamation of QwaQwa National Park was completed in 2007, increasing the park's area to 340 km².

The park is located in the eastern highveld region of South Africa, and experiences a dry sunny climate from June to August. It has showers, hails and thunderstorms between October and April. It has thick snowfalls in the winter. The park has a relatively high rainfall of 800 mm per year.

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Cost

  • South African citizens and residents (with ID): R44 per adult, R22 per child, per day.
  • SADC nationals (with passport): R88 per adult, R44 per child, per day.
  • Foreign visitors: R176 per adult, R88 per child, per day.

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Getting There and Around

The park is 320 kilometres from Johannesburg and is close to the villages of Clarens and Kestell, in the upper regions of the Little Caledon River. The park is situated in the Rooiberge of the eastern Free State, in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains. The Caledon River forms the southern boundary of the park as well as the border between the Free State and Lesotho. The highest peak in the park (and also in the Free State) is Ribbokkop at 2,829 metres.

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Eat/Drink

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Sleep

Accommodation in the park is available at Glen Reenen and Brandwag Rest camps. Caravaning and camping sites with all amenities are available at Glen Reenen camp. The hotel was formerly part of Brandwag camp, but since its recent refurbishment it is managed separately by SANParks as Golden Gate Hotel. The nearest town to Golden Gate Highlands National Park is Clarens (17 kilometres to the west), but Phuthaditjhaba is also easily reached via a good tar road, driving through the access gate to the east of the park.

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This is version 1. Last edited at 9:27 on Sep 12, 17 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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