Golden Gate Highlands National Park – Jan/Feb 2009
From Gauteng the drive to Golden Gate is very pleasant (and quick). The road from Bethlehem to Clarens shows a different side of the Free State – no wonder it is called the breadbasket of South Africa. The Amur Falcons and Black Shouldered Kites abound the telegraph poles to share in this feast.
Clarens has grown since we were last in that area and is an ideal stop if you have not brought any provisions with you.
Golden Gate camps are just off the main through road which is totally different from any other park I have been in. Mr Cherries kept saying – but I thought we were staying in the park! Quiet response: Yes, dear, so did I!
We checked in to our Longdawel at Glen Reenen for our two night stay. Then off to do the loops. OK there are only two..... On the Blesbok Loop we were unable to cross the road to the Langtoon Dam due to the amount of water on the low lying bridge. So we had to reverse back up that stretch and stay on the main loop.
Photos of No 18. We usually try to take a couple of pics before we seem to turn the place upside down!
We did see one Black Wildebeest and five Grey Rhebok that took off like the wind when they spotted us.
OK let’s try the Oribi Loop – Another low lying bridge but there was no other way in so we ploughed through the water. Lovely scenery but no animals. We didn’t go on the walk to the vulture feeding project so I don’t know if it is worthwhile or not.
To be honest I am not sure where the wildlife hides in Golden Gate!
Back to van Reenen’s grave site to the bird hide. We never found the bird hide – does it still exist?
We headed back to camp to have a wander round the camp and caravan park. The trees on the caravan park side of the road were full of red chested cuckoo – all competing with their song. They were the last to go to bed and the first up for the dawn patrol. There you go BB - now you know where to find the RDC!
This young one hadn’t found his call yet!
Even his Mum (Cape Robin Chat) wouldn’t feed him out in the open.
Little snake at caravan site.
We walked up the river bank that goes to the rock pool. Quite a bit of water coming down that mountainside! Just a bit different than when you where there CC?
The next day we decide to drive to the Basuto Cultural Village which was part of the Qwa Qwa reserve. The new camp is well underway and a few guests were staying there. This site is off the road and has a lovely view.
We saw Springbok, Zebra, Blesbok, Red Haartebees and Black Wildebees but all too far away from the main road.
We actually left the park for the rest of the day as there is just not enough off road driving to keep you there. Middle of the afternoon we decided to do the two loops again – just in case!! Still only the one black wildebeest on the side of the hill. We ploughed through the water again on the other loop and it had definitely risen. I only found out much later that I had left my front number plate behind.
However, there is always at least one special sighting no matter which park you are in and ours was this black backed jackal. Still broad daylight and he didn’t care about our car.
If you gotta go – it doesn’t matter who is around!
Man on a mission!
The clouds were coming in dark and heavy, rolling over the hills with the threat of a major storm. We were very fortunate that it passed us by.
The cuckoo alarm clock had us up nice and early! Good time to catch some bird photos! Seems that the Sunday regulars were also looking for breakfast!
It was quite amazing to watch these rhebok walking on such steep slopes.
Bird life seen in Golden Gate :
Red chested cuckoo
Cape Robin Chat
Cape Rock Thrush
Yellow Billed Kite
Ant Eating Chat
S Grey Headed Sparrow
S Masked Weaver
White Necked Raven
Grey Crowned Crane
Spur winged Goose
Southern Bald Ibis
Beautiful walks and views. Not enough off road loops. Traffic blatantly breaking the speed limit and they have no patience for people who are actually there to enjoy the Park.
Unfortunately National Road wins over National Park and spoils a beautiful area.