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Media Release: Golden Gate Highlands National Park â Poised to attract more tourists to the Free State

02 February 2005

IN a move poised to boost the fledgling economy of the Free State province, Golden Gate Highlands National Park – already a popular domestic and international tourism destination – is set to attract even more visitors this year.

This follows the completion of the building of two beautiful major accommodation outlets, the Qwa Qwa and Mountain Retreat rest camps. Further developments in the park included the upgrading and extension of the existing Glen Reenen rest camp which increased the number of units available there from 13 to 31 units.

The existing 13 rondavels were refurbished, old staff houses were converted into tourism accommodation and 10 new 2-bed units were constructed.  The “new” Glen Reenen has a mixed theme and represents the local Basotho culture – while the old staff houses were converted to represent the sandstone houses that occur in the area.

Situated against the backdrop of the majestic Drakensberg Mountain Range and the legendary rocky mountains of the Lesotho Kingdom in the eastern Free State province, Golden Gate is easily accessible to visitors from most parts of the country, particularly those from Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.

The amalgamation of the former Qwa Qwa National Park and the Golden Gate Highlands National Park that began in March 2004, will see the increase of this all important conservation area from 12 000 ha to 34 000 ha. 

“Poverty Relief funding was made available by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) for several (development) projects, including the upgrading of existing tourism accommodation and the construction of new units,” says Johan Taljaard, Golden Gate National Park Manager.

He added that in all, Golden Gate received a total of R37,3 million in DEAT poverty relief funding for the 2002-2005 financial cycle which was used in the construction and improvement of infrastructure in the park, resulting in job opportunities for local people.

The upgraded and extended Glen Reenen Rest Camp offers the following number of semi-luxury and economy self-catering units: 7 x 2-bed rondavels; 7 x 4-bed rondavels; 10 x 2-bed longdavel units; 2 x 6-bed houses and 5 x 4-bed houses. This infrastructure is supported by a new reception building opened in September 2004.

The Mountain Retreat Rest Camp:  Situated 2 200 m above sea level, this exclusive luxury family log cottages with sod roofs camp will provide exquisite views of the surrounding mountains, including the Drakensberg mountain range. Once completed the camp will be able to accommodate a total number of 32 people in:

  • 4 x 2 bedroom units (total of four people can be accommodated)
  • 4 x 1 bedroom units (total of four people can be accommodated)

* This camp will be available to the public from March/April 2005.

Qwa Qwa Rest Camp:  The Basotho Cultural Village, which will now form part of Golden Gate Highlands National Park following the incorporation of the former Qwa Qwa National Park, is one of the successful living cultural museums in South Africa and already attracts tourists throughout the year.

The very popular Basotho Cultural Village provided an opportunity for extension and a decision was taken to provide tourism accommodation as part of the current facility.    The new accommodation will support the Basotho Cultural Village theme, with views over the plains where game congregates in large numbers during certain times of the year.  This camp offers the following number of economy self-catering facilities: 12 x 2 bed units and 12 x 4 bed units.

* It will be available as from March/April 2005.

A further R 11 million was made available in the 2005-2007 Expanded Public Works Cycle for the upgrade & construction of 74 km perimeter fence, as well as the construction on 19km tourist roads in the Qwa Qwa section of the new park.


Issued by:  Lulama Luti: Manager: Media & PR
                   South African National Parks
                   Tel: (012) 426-5203 or 082-905-4645

Enquiries:  Wanda Mkutshulwa: Head Communications
                   South African National Parks
                   Tel: (012) 426-5201 or 082-908-2692

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