May 15th, 2009

Drakensberg & Golden Gate National Parks

by Maria
Posted in South Africa

Our first major stop after Lesotho was Golden Gate National Parks in Free State. Beautiful sandstone outcroppings, lit up with magnificent colors of golden yellow, red and deep purple at sunset. And of course, if that weren’t enough, they threw in a few wild zebras for good measure.

Golden Gate

From there we headed to the humongous Drakensberg Mountains. The first stop was the Royal Natal area where we did two incredible hikes. Hike one was from the Sentinel car park to the top of the escarpment. With the exception of the gorge, the hike isn’t that strenuous and the views are extraordinary from start to finish. The views at the top of the escarpment will blow your mind! The next day we hiked up the Thukela Gorge.

Drakensberg

Next up was the Central Drakensberg area where we stayed at Cathedral Peak Nature Reserve Home for two days. Our first hike was through Rainbow Gorge where the big treat was dipping our feet into the bone chilling water of the river. Our last walk was the incredible Cathedral Peak hike. This walk has it all: incredible vistas throughout the entire hike, a difficult distance and a significant elevation gain (18km and about 1600 vertical meters), two very steep gullies to climb and several grade c scrambling. Unfortunately, it is winter now and there isn’t too many daylight hours and since we woke up a little too late, we ran out of time to attempt the final 300 m to the peak. In retrospect, it was a good decision to turn back as we only had about 30 minutes of daylight left when we finally got back to Lucy. Nevertheless, it was spectacular, an unforgettable hike to end an unforgettable trip. Sitting at the base of the Orange Peel Gap, eating lunch and looking out at the amazing vastness before of us, was one of those moments that takes your breath and leaves you silent, in total awe of the world. Not a bad way to end our journey.

Our trip here was spectacular but too short. In reality, you need weeks, not days, to really see Drakensberg, but we are grateful for what we got to see nevertheless. We have to leave something for next time anyway. ;-)

Drakensberg
Drakensberg
View
Us

Us on Cathedral Peak hike. A bittersweet moment; a beautiful spot but also the end of this journey.

One Response to “Drakensberg & Golden Gate National Parks”

  1. Diana Says:

    Awesome stuff!
    I love your pictures from Lesotho and the ones on this post are breathtaking.

    I’m glad you came back and did this. Last year you stopped short of Drakensberg to do Fish River Canyon…
    In hindsight … I should have stayed longer in South Africa and gone to Drakensberg…

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