Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Incredible Views & Endless Adventures Await

The Golden Gate Highlands National Park is situated in the Eastern Free State, near the border of neighbouring Lesotho. Jagged sandstone outcrops contrast spectacularly with mostly montane grasslands, which come alive with bright green rolling colours in the summer months.

The park is especially well known for its spectacular sunsets; when the sandstone buttresses are set alight with the colours of the sinking sun at dusk. Look out for Brandwag Buttress and spectacular Cathedral Cave – carved by wind and water over millions of years.

Pack a simple lunch and enjoy it at Meriting Picnic Site or lace up your hiking boots for a trek into the mountains. Try the 1 hour Mushroom walk or grab a map and spend the day on a 4 to 5 hour hike to Wodehouse Peak at some 2440m. There are options for beginners and experienced walkers and trekkers.

The Free State’s only national park, Golden Gate is a great place to see plains game and lots of birdlife, while also learning a little about the history of the Basotho people in the area. Don’t miss the vulture restaurant on the Oribi Loop – even if there are no vultures the view is well worth the walk.

The park may not boast any of the Big 5 yet, but visitors are able to see grey rheboks, blesboks, eland, endangered oribi antelope, Burchell’s zebra, jackals and baboons. Keen birders will be delighted with more than 250 species recorded in the area. The grassland and montane forests provide habitat for several endemic bird species unique to South Africa and it is one of the more reliable places to see the sought-after, iconic lammergeier or bearded vulture. The best time to visit for birding is between November to April.

Top Things To Do


Guided and non-guided hiking excursions are on offer at Golden Gate NP, with options for children to experienced trekkers. There are paths with low levels of difficulty and more arduous options for serious adventurers.

Horse Riding

One of the best ways to explore the beautiful Maluti Mountains is on horseback. The park offers guided rides to see the scenery, birding and game spotting.

Cultural Tour

Within the park, the Basotho Cultural Village offers a depiction of traditional Basotho life. A 2-hour guided hiking trail explores medicinal plants and a rock-art site.

Golden Gate is the Free State’s only national park, close to the enclave of Clarens, a traditional Basotho Cultural Village and some fascinating rock art sites. It is a fantastic destination for active families, keen birders and couples looking to escape the rat race of the city. For those visiting from Johannesburg, it’s only about 4 hours drive, making it a great weekend destination. Be sure to book your accommodation with us in beautiful Clarens, the jewel of the Free State by contacting us today.

Experience the Maluti Mountains

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