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 Post subject: A few days in Golden Gate
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 8:13 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Location: Johannesburg - too far from the closest Sanpark
I'm trying my hand at a trip report for the first time. It probably won't be too long though.

Anyway, SO and I were going to be in Bloemfontein for a few days before the Easter weekend, so I decided to take advantage and go away somewhere for a few days. We couldn't get into Mokala, which would have been nice, but managed to get some camping sites at Glen Reenen for a few nights.

SO was a bit trepidatious about the trip, because she'd had only one 'hiking' experience before, which didn't go so well (Walter Sisulu on a really hot day). I'd also just bought a new tent and some new camping equipment, so it promised to be an interesting trip.

We eventually left Bloemfontein at about 11am, after doing some last-minute shopping (we managed to find a Dietz hurricane lamp) and packing the car. I was planning to drive via Ladybrand/Ficksburg anyway, and was told that the Bethlehem road was in a bad state anyway, so that's the route we took. The road was in pretty good condition most of the way, but I expected the scenery to be a bit more interesting.

Eventually we arrived in Clarens at about 15h00. We did some minor shopping (I bought some clothes) and went to pay for the white-water rafting trip we'd be doing the following day. Clarens has become super-touristy and I wasn't too impressed unfortunately.

We finally arrived in Golden Gate, with the mountains looking spectacular. SO was very impressed. We were a bit confused about where to check in, so we pulled in to the hotel. They managed to check us in without too much fuss, though there was a bit of confusion around Wild Cards. The gentleman helping us advised us to add SO to my card, to which I agreed. What he left out however was that he'd have to give my credit card details over the phone to the person he was talking to at Infinity. This I wasn't prepared to do. We ended up having to pay conservation fees anyway, and SO is still without a Wild Card.

While at the hotel, we looked around the restaurant, and were shown around 2 of the new rooms. It really looks amazing. The rooms, common areas and furnishings are really top-class, and I think a superb job was done. From what I understand, the no-view rooms cost R750 per night for the room, which is really good value. Unfortunately I didn't take any photos in the hotel.

We then proceeded to Glen Reenen, where the campsite was pretty full. We drove around for about 15 minutes, trying to find a site with electricity, a braai and reasonably level ground. Eventually we decided on one which turned out to be ok during the stay. We'd put the tent up only once before, just after I'd bought it, to make sure all the pieces were there. The second time it took us less than 30 minutes to put it up completely, which I'm quite proud of. We then got busy with setting up the rest of camp.

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Me in front of tent after erection (prior to attaching yellow and red ribbons)

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Jodi (SO) assembling our table.

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A romantically-lit table

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The 'mite formerly known as joshilewis

FGASA Level 1 Guide

Glen Reenen TR

15-18 June: Berg-en-dal


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 Post subject: Re: A few days in Golden Gate
Unread postPosted: Sun Apr 11, 2010 8:25 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue May 19, 2009 2:15 pm
Posts: 1892
Location: Johannesburg - too far from the closest Sanpark
The next day we got up bright and early to go rafting. (Note to mods: I thought I'd include this part since I think its valid for visitors to know they can go rafting from GGHNP. Please PM me/remove if not appropriate). PM me if you want details for the rafting. The rafting is done on the As River, which is the outflow of the Katse Dam in Leotho. We did a full-day trip, which included 4 Grade-4 rapids, and a number of smaller rapids.

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The start of Fishpond/Bridge rapid (Grade 4)

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In the middle of Fishpond (me in front right of boat, SO just behind me)

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Enjoying some refreshments halfway

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Big Surprise rapid (Grade 4)

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The 'mite formerly known as joshilewis

FGASA Level 1 Guide

Glen Reenen TR

15-18 June: Berg-en-dal


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 Post subject: Re: A few days in Golden Gate
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 5:21 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue May 19, 2009 2:15 pm
Posts: 1892
Location: Johannesburg - too far from the closest Sanpark
Our next morning dawned quite clear and coolish. Today would be Jodi's first real introduction to hiking (which I've been doing since a child). The plan was to do the Brandwag climb, and see from there how we were feeling and maybe continue a bit.

The walk started nicely enough, with not too much uphill.

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Jodi towards the beginning of the walk

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View of Glen Reenen Rest Camp from a little way up

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Taking a breather at the top of a climb under one of the impressive eroded cliffs

All went pretty well until we got to the last section, which is very rocky and steep. Most people use the chain bolted into the rock for support. After a bit of coaching and support, Jodi made it to the top!

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At the top, near Brandwag

After spending some time above the buttress, taking photos, looking at some fauna and flora and enjoying the sun, we decided to make our way down on the hotel path (which leads directly down to the road - the quickest and most direct way down).

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Jodi at the bottom with Brandwag in the background. Fortunately she was still smiling :)

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The 'mite formerly known as joshilewis

FGASA Level 1 Guide

Glen Reenen TR

15-18 June: Berg-en-dal


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 Post subject: Re: A few days in Golden Gate
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 5:32 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue May 19, 2009 2:15 pm
Posts: 1892
Location: Johannesburg - too far from the closest Sanpark
After the hot hike, we decided to walk to the pool behind the rest camp. One small beef I had is that this pool is marketed as a 'natural rock pool' but its clearly been dammed up with cement. It is quite a lovely spot, with a beautiful waterfall feeding the pool. Unfortunately, there isn't much space for backpacks/towels etc.

Anyway, the water was as freezing as expected, and I had a refreshing swim. Jodi was also brave enough to venture in up to her waist.

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Jodi in the rock pool.

It was then time for some driving. We decided to take the two game viewing loops. It started spitting with rain during the first loop which dampened spirits and bird viewing opportunities, but we still enjoyed the amazing views. We stopped at the 'Drakensberg View' point to take some photos.

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Jodi and I at Drakensberg View

Back at the camp, our camping neighbour and I managed to capture some of the sunset gold in the cliff above the camp site.

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Cliff above the camp site bathed golden in setting sun

We had time on our last morning to pop past the vulture restaurant to see what was happening. Unfortunately there was no action, and no sign that there was anything special on that particular mountain.

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Jodi standing at the start of the trail up to the vulture restaurant

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The 'mite formerly known as joshilewis

FGASA Level 1 Guide

Glen Reenen TR

15-18 June: Berg-en-dal


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 Post subject: Re: A few days in Golden Gate
Unread postPosted: Mon Apr 12, 2010 9:01 pm 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue May 19, 2009 2:15 pm
Posts: 1892
Location: Johannesburg - too far from the closest Sanpark
Some more scenic photos from the walk and drive:

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Brandwag

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Sun peeking over the mountain

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Brandwag with some foreground scenery

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Play of light on the hills at Drakensberg View

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The 'mite formerly known as joshilewis

FGASA Level 1 Guide

Glen Reenen TR

15-18 June: Berg-en-dal


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