Golden Gate National Park

Situated in the north-eastern Free State, the Golden Gate National Park is scenic destination of blazing highlands in the summer and snow-covered cliffs in the winter on the slopes of the Maluti Mountains. Established in 1963, this park offers visitors comfortable accommodation and the chance to see some rare animal and bird species.

The Golden Gate National Park derives its name from the highland sandstone rock formations that are characteristic of this area. When the sunlight hits these ancient formations they glow with a golden colour unlike anything else. The park covers over 11 600 hectares and is made up of a number of habitats including wooded ravines, gullies and grasslands.

The park has numerous scenic vistas like this one

The park is a natural highlands habitat. It is home to a number of mammals including black wildebeest, eland, blesbok, oribi, springbok and Burchell’s zebra. The Golden Gate National Park is also home to 120 or more bird species. These include the rare black eagle, bearded vulture and the bald ibis. These rare birds are often seen on hikes and self-driving game views.

The primary way to see the park is self-drive game viewing. There are also shorter nature trails that take anything from one to five hours. For those who love hiking, there is always the Rhebok Trail. This 31 kilometre trail stretches across a large expanse of the park starting at the Glen Reenen Rest Camp and offers you the opportunity to see many of the park’s animals up close.

While the animals are by far the main attraction of the Golden Gate National Park, the area offers other attractions and distractions to its visitors. There are guided tours of the impressive Cathedral Cave that boasts massive chambers that stretches on into the darkness. The ‘Vulture Restaurant’ is part of the conservation efforts of the bearded vulture where reserve personnel deposit carcasses for the vulture’s feeding pleasure. Visitors can see a rare sight when the vultures converge to feed.

There is a natural pool with a natural water slide offering visitors a great way to cool off during the warmer summer months. The park also offers a variety of sporting facilities including tennis, bowls, table tennis and others.

Two places offer accommodation in the park. The Glen Reenen Rest Camp lies in the shadow of the incredible Brandburg Rock – the largest of the park’s sandstone cliffs. Fully-furnished rondavels or family cottages are available to visitors. For a more luxurious stay, the Highlands Mountain Retreat is situated high in the mountains and offers furnished log cabins for the ultimate relaxing get away at the roof of the world.

The Golden Gate National Park is great at any time in the year. Just remember to bring something warm since, even at the height of summer, the nights can get a little chilly in the highlands of the Free State.


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