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Re: Golden Gate Vulture restuarant

Golden Gate, Mapungubwe, Marakele

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RayK
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Re: Golden Gate Vulture Restaurant, any info?

Unread postby RayK » Tue Apr 12, 2011 6:01 pm

Hi Bart47,
Thank You for the added info. I would think that by adding a simple hide the Park would appeal to more people. I was attracted to the area by reading about the Vulture Restaurant. Most of us don't have many opportunities for this type of photography.

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Re: Golden Gate Vulture Restaurant, any info?

Unread postby DuQues » Tue Apr 12, 2011 8:41 pm

There used to be a hide near the graveyard but it burned down. The HR's had plans to rebuild it, but they may not have the funds, at least I haven't heard of it being rebuild.

As for wildlife, if you are not a birder, and staying in Glenn Rheenen or the hotel it can be less appealing. If however you are in the Retreat you are on the right side of the mountain, and will see plenty, and reasonably near to very near.
Up towards the Basotho cultural village we saw plenty eland, zebra and such.
I'm not sure what it will be like at the farmhouse, but it could be very good as it's quiet there.

For walks it is absolutely perfect!
And then you have the option to photograph the little things, like snakes (missed all) spiders, reptiles plants etc.

So no Big 5, but landscapes to dream of, and very good for a relaxed do-vacation.
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Re: Golden Gate Vulture Restaurant, any info?

Unread postby Cassius » Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:26 am

The vulture restaurant/feeding site forms part of a larger feeding programme that spans the Maluti-Drakensberg region, both in the Lesotho and South Africa sides. The objective of it is to provide a safe source of food across the mountain range and associated areas. Carcasses are put out on a regular basis primary source being cattle and horses from the neighboring farmers. Should there be no carcass available then we source from within the park. A ‘clean’ carcass that is free of medication such and anti-inflammatory is important due to the lethal effect they have on the birds.

Access to the site is via the Oribi loops to the vehicle parking area at the base of a small ridge. Walk up the ridge and you will see the feeding site. The tourists are restricted to the ridge. This is so that the birds are not disturbed whilst feeding.

We have Bearded Vultures flying over the site almost on a daily basis (environmental conditions dependant).
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Golden Gate Vulture Hide

Unread postby Meis » Sun Nov 18, 2012 8:29 am

Vulture conservation has been given a boost with the opening of the new Vulture Hide in Golden Gate on Saturday 17th November 2012
Watch this space!

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Re: Golden Gate Vulture Hide

Unread postby DuQues » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:21 pm

I have just been there. We are not far enough yet into out photos, but will post some soon.

But in a nutshell:
No long hard log up the mountain anymore, you can drive up, and park your car on the top.
From there 2 paths stretch out in front of you. If you go straight you will do a very long walk (worth it) to the escarpment, and will see the hide on the last bit.
Better go right, then after about 400 meters you will be at the hide. People in wheelchairs should be able to make it, but it is a cartrail only, so will be shake, rattle and roll. There are no intervening doorsteps or such.

When entering the hide you will see 4 benches and a lot of safety glass. The view is good (as are the smells if the wind is from the wrong direction), but the glass is slightly tinted.
There is ample place for placing your gear.

However, this is the viewing area only. You can photograph from here, but it might be a good idea to bring some stuff to clean the windows with.
The grass will be in the way. I think you should have your camera at least 30 centimeters above the table. I solved that by bringing photobag + beanbag and stacking them.

To your left there is a (locked) door, that is the photography area. I think you are supposed to get the key at Glen Rheenen, but I didn't know about that area till I left GG. :?
There you have desk chairs, as well as opening for sticking out your lens. Those can be zipped closed.
I think you will have the same grass problem, which is less easily solved as those openings are not high enough.
When we were there the carcasses were deposited in front of the viewing area, so anglewise you may not have the best view either.

Here is a recent blogpost by Tim Jackson and Morgan Trimble. That is about the area I was not in, but it shows it pretty well.
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Re: Golden Gate Vulture Hide

Unread postby Imberbe » Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:34 pm

Photos from the inside of the public area.

Stunning views.


Image

Image

Image

Inside of the photographer's area:

Image

Key from Glenn Rheenen reception.
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Re: Golden Gate Vulture Hide

Unread postby TonyW » Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:24 pm

Great thank you Imberbe !! Looks stunning

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Re: Golden Gate Vulture Hide

Unread postby Bushbuddies » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:59 pm

Looks great! Will definitely have to schedule a visit to Golden Gate again... :whistle:
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Re: Golden Gate Vulture Hide

Unread postby granjan » Thu Feb 28, 2013 8:28 pm

I visited at the beginning of the month. As Imberbe says a great facility with wonderful views. I spent quite some time there on 2 consecutive days.
There was no remotely fresh carcase, just very old bones and sadly no lammergeiers.
The other problem for photographers is that the grass is quite long so that focussing is very difficult.
I got the key from reception at Van Reenen though the receptionist was very unsure about the procedure, but I'm sure once the hiccups are sorted, it will be a great facility.
AND I saw this from the carpark which is a few hundred yards from the hide. :dance:
Image
015 by jansp, on Flickr

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Re: Golden Gate Vulture Hide

Unread postby Divhani » Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:19 am

Ohhhhh wow :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:

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Re: Golden Gate Vulture Hide

Unread postby Son godin » Fri Mar 01, 2013 8:23 pm

granjan,

You were very lucky to spot a Lammergeier even though not at the hide. Was there any cost involved in getting the key and how many parties do they allow in the photography section.

I would also like to find out how often do they leave a fresh carcass at the hide. During our visit at the Giants Castle hide we had a whole horse placed on the cliff near the hide. Unfortunately it was just to windy and only the next day the Lammergeiers came in when we did not have a booking. The pic below was taken at Giants Castle.

Image

We will be visiting the park end of this month and wish for clear skies and a sigthing of a lammergeier. The last one we saw at Golden Gate was nearly 5 years back while lying on our backs watching them passed over the cliff.

Another one on my wish list for my visit to GG is the Southern bald ibis. Has any one seen a southern bald ibis recently in GG. I've seen some before near Wakkerstroom, but my only pics were taken in Pretoria. :wink:

Image

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Re: Golden Gate Vulture Hide

Unread postby granjan » Fri Mar 01, 2013 9:18 pm

Hi Son Godin, great pics!
There was no charge for the key but the receptionist didn't seem to know what was happening. After a bit of discussion, she gave us the key and we gave her our mobile number and said to phone us if she wanted the key back.
We didn't get a call so dropped the key back early the next morning. [we were staying at the Mountain Retreat.]
She did say that no decision had been made about charging but gave the impression that this was likely in the future.
They do need to sort this out. There was another chap in the hide who came through to the photography section after we'd opened it - no problem as we asked him if he wanted to - but I can imagine there might be problems if the rules aren't very specific. :(
Great facility though and hopefully will produce fabulous sightings in the future!

Wonderful bald ibis pic! No luck for me, I'm afraid.
We had a wonderful trip up the Sani Pass, but no bald ibis.

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Re: Golden Gate Vulture Hide

Unread postby shortcourse » Fri Apr 12, 2013 12:50 pm

As far as I am aware at present there is no charge and no charge is likely until they organise toilet facilities. There is no sign post to the vulture hide although it's the only turn-off on the Oribi Loop (other than to Highlands) so can't really miss it. Lots of jackal in the area now as a result of the hide - we had a quick look in to check it out - no vultures but lots of crows! Certainly a bit of a smell but looks very nice. SO commented that the hide was not the cleanest but I didn't really notice. The photographers section was unlocked when we went there so I took a couple of pics - the carcasses were quite far out so you need at least 400mm lens and even then probably need to crop a bit. The flaps unfortunately fall down onto your camera body so may need some safety pins / velcro to solve this problem but no major issue
Such a pretty area and a real bonus to have the vulture hide there - hopefully it will encourage vultures over time - I have heard that while the vultures may not necessarily be visiting the hide as frequently as one would like, it is benefitting them as for example the jackals will steal meat / bones from the carcasses and take it off elsewhere and the vultures obviously can then also access this source so hopefully the population will increase!

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Re: Golden Gate Vulture Hide

Unread postby JenB » Wed Apr 17, 2013 7:36 am

Son godin, we found Bald Ibis on the entrance road to the Basotho Cultural Village.
Two weeks ago we found a couple in a field just before Harrismith so they are definitely in that area.
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Re: Golden Gate Vulture Hide

Unread postby Imberbe » Sat Aug 31, 2013 2:38 am

Any time is a good time to visit. It has stunning views even when there is no wildlife around.

Visitors do not have the opportunity to scatter bones.

We have been there a number of times an twice had the privilege of seeing bearded vultures. Also jackal a number of times and smaller birds are almost always around.

The photography area is locked and you need to pay to use it. The key is at reception at Glenn Rheenen. The public area is however open and there is no fee.
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