The Golden Gate
I have a tip for you if you visit the Northern Drakensberg, keep following the R74, turn left at the T-junction and get your awe on in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.
Situated in the Free State is the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. A landscape that is both menacing and eerily beautiful. Dwarfed by Golden mountains and grasslands as you drive through the park, everywhere you turn sandstone buttresses stare down at you.
There is all manner of accommodation from a cultural stay at the Basotho Village, a Hotel at the Glen Reenen Restcamp. I chose to camp in the epicly located campsite that sits below the menacing Rooi Draai ( Red Turn)
Awash with willow trees, the campsite is well located, there are several hikes that lead from its grounds and the facilities are excellent. Watch out for the Baboons though they will rob you blind, and seemingly turning your back can result in two loaves of bread being redistributed within a moment. Healthier camping enforced by the locals i guess.
Aside from a couple of scenic drives – worth doing for some seriously spectacular vistas, including a look back at the Drakensberg, and a little ditty up the road to Clarens for a look at what a small town would like if it was designed by hollywood set designer, although do drop by the local brewery – they offer up some samples and a good explanation of what they are up to and the Dark Beer isn’t half bad.
The lower areas of the park are filled with a myriad of buck species as the lazy meandering road turns into a game viewing experience. The hikes from the campsite are short, easy and seriously spectacular – from the echo walk to the brand wag, its easy to just stop and stare.
The Golden Gate can make you feel its a little arbitrary in terms of what to do at times, but you need to just look up at the mountains surrounding you for a change of heart, soon you realize a cold beer and view is pretty much the only reason you need to visit.