Overview – Golden Gate Highlands NP

Philip Briggs
Expert
By Philip Briggs

Philip lives in South Africa and is the author many guidebooks to African destinations, including the Bradt and Insight guide to South Africa.

Philip lives in South Africa and is the author many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guide to South Africa.

Philip is the author of many Africa guidebooks, including the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Philip is the author of the Bradt and Insight guides to South Africa.

Golden Gate Highlands Park derives its name from the golden glow on its sandstone rocks in the late afternoon (sunsets can be very spectacular here). Its appeal lies mostly in the stunning scenery and hiking opportunities. The park isn't a remarkable wildlife viewing destination, as none of the Big Five is present. There is, however, a variety of animals adapted to this highland grassland habitat, including several antelope species.

Best Time to Go October to May (Beautiful scenery)
High Season October to March (Only busy at school holidays)
Size 116km² / 45mi²
Altitude 1,719-2,813m / 5,640-9,229ft

Pros & Cons

  • Stunning scenery and many self-guided hiking trails
  • Great birding destination
  • Malaria-free
  • Nearby picturesque artist's village, Clarens, offering a variety of accommodation options
  • Little-visited, off-the-beaten-track destination
  • Cultural Basotho village offering tours
  • Small game-drive circuit
  • Public road runs through the park
  • Limited variety of wildlife

Golden Gate Highlands NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

Wildlife

Golden Gate is not a prime wildlife destination. None of the Big Five is present, but it is home to several species that thrive in this highland habitat. The endemic black wildebeest, with its distinctive white tail, can be seen grazing together with Burchell's zebra, blesbok, mountain reedbuck and oribi. Predators are rarely seen, except for the black-backed jackal.

Scenery

Most of the park consists of highland grassland with patches of forest in gorges and ravines, where it is protected from very cold conditions and fire. This is the only grassland national park in South Africa, and 60 different species of grasses have been identified.

Weather & Climate

The cold of winter arrives in May and lasts until September, with average daytime temperatures that rarely exceed 17°C/63°F. The sun shines most days, and snow falls on rare occasions. In summer, which stretches from October to April, the temperature gets a lot warmer. There’s also quite a bit of rain in the form of afternoon thunderstorms.

Best Time to Visit

You can see animals year-round, though they’re nowhere near as prolific or diverse in comparison to the average South African national park. The landscape is particularly attractive in the Wet season (October to April), but the daily downpours will hamper your explorations. The other main drawback to visiting at this time is that it’s the park’s high season. For smaller crowds, visit in the Dry season (May to September).

Want to Visit Golden Gate Highlands NP?

Golden Gate Highlands NP Safari Reviews

  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding
Most Helpful Expert Review
Mountain trails
3/5

The western Drakensburg is not really a place for big game viewing – there is no Big Five here – but this park offers a scenic location in which to enjoy the mountain air and get to know the unusual fauna and flora of South Africa’s...

Latest User Review
4/5

Very beautiful. Did not see a lot of Birds or animals but I am sure there are a lot.