"Golden Gate National Park - Mountain Treasure" Golden Gate Highlands National Park by MikeAtSea
Golden Gate Highlands National Park Travel Guide: 5 reviews and 23 photos
Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains of the north eastern Free State lies the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.
The park derives its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the park's sandstone cliffs, especially the imposing Brandwag rock, keeping vigil over the main rest camp.
This 11 600 hectares of unique environment is true highland habitat, providing home to a variety of mammals – black wildebeest, eland, blesbok, oribi, springbok and Burchell's zebra - and birds, including the rare bearded vulture (lammergeier) and the equally rare bald ibis, which breed on the ledges in the sandstone cliffs. Ribbokkop, the highest point in the park, reveals a breathtaking tapestry of red, yellow and purple hues as its warm shades merge with the cool mountain shadows towards evening.
Golden Gate Highlands National Park was officially proclaimed on the 13 September 1963.
Golden Gate was proclaimed during the period in which national parks were proclaimed for pristine area protection of which Golden Gate has much geological significance, aesthetic beauty as well as representing the threatened grassland biome.
• Golden Gate derives its name from the sunrays of the setting sun that casts a soft shade on the west facing sandstone cliffs and turns them into a glowing gold colour. This was what Mr van Reenen observed in 1878 when he first moved to his new farm Vuurland, while coming down the pass at the western entrance to the park. In awe of this magnificent sight, he named his new land - Golden Gate.
• Golden Gate is currently the only proclaimed National Park that protects the grassland biome which is the most neglected biome from the point of view of conservation.
• The first inhabitants of this area were the San, judging by the stone tools and rock paintings found at various places throughout Golden Gate. They no doubt lived under the many overhangs in the area. After the arrival of the Basuto and European hunters, farmers and trekkers the Bushmen moved away out of this area.
• Wodehouse peak was named after Sir Percy Wodehouse, the governor of the Cape in the 1840’s, who was responsible for the erection of beacons on the Rooiberge to create some border system. The first beacon was erected on Wodehouse kop.
• The highest loose standing peak in the Park, as well as in the Free State, is Ribbokkopkop at a height of 2829 m above sea level.
• The first ever fossilized Triassic dinosaur eggs were found in the park at Rooi Draai in 1973.
• An array of examples of fossilized dinosaur bones, roots, ferns and footprints in the Park.
• Golden Gate has become an integral part of one of South Africa’s Transfrontier Conservation Areas, the Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Project.
• The Golden Gate Valley was one of the areas which was used as a route for the English and Boer armies during the Anglo-Boer War (South African War) and there are several historical sites in the park linked to this period. One such an example is when the retreating Boer army burned their ammunition wagons near the Mount Pierre area in the park, to prevent them from falling into English hands, where the severe heat of the burning/exploding wagons caused sterile patches of land and bullet remnants that are still visible after 105 years.
The park is situated only 55km from Harrismith and the N3. It is sited along the Maluti Drakensburg Route only 350km from Pietermaritzburg, 330km from Bloemfontein and 320km from Johannesburg.
The village is only 42km away from the renowned Clarens, a tourist Mecca of the Free State Province through the scenic Golden Gate Highlands National Park.
The largest antelope one can find in the Golden National Park is the Eland. The name Eland is derived from the Dutch... more travel advice
The park is situated only 55km from Harrismith and the N3. It is sited along the Maluti Drakensburg Route only 350km... more travel advice
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