No, this is not a post about the San Francisco renowned park. It is about the South Africa’s highlands at the base of the Maloti mountains, with beautiful views of the Drakensberg spears. But the two areas have something in common: the golden, ochre, and orange-hued surroundings. One has the grass to give it these colors, the other one has sandstone cliffs.
If you find yourself in South Africa’s Free State or in Lesotho, do not miss this little piece of paradise.
If you want to spend the night there, you have lots of accommodation to choose from. You can either stay in the park (which offers hotel rooms, rondawels, as well as rest camps for campervans and tents) or pick one of the villages around the area. We chose Clarens, a picturesque artsy upcoming little town that reminded us of Sonoma. We stayed there just one night, but we could have easily spend a couple of days just hopping from one restaurant to another and visiting the little stores in town.
The best time to visit the park is close to sunset as it is the sun light shining on the cliffs that gives them the beautiful colors they are known for. We got there around 4pm and decided to take a hike while waiting for the sun to set. There are a couple of track starting from the Glen Reenen visitor center. You can get a map from there while paying for the park fee (you can pass through the park without paying any fee as the road is not part of the national park, but you have to pay if you want to hike it or stay there overnight). We ended up doing the Echo Ravine trail, then part of the Boskloof one which put us on the Brandwag Buttress trail which led us on the top of the imposing Brandwag rock.
The views on the trails were magnificent, and we took so many pictures that a gallery was more appropriate to show you the beauty of the place. Check it here!
The park also has two one way driving circuits giving you other views over the park. One of them goes by the Katse dam.
The other one takes you to the ‘vulture restaurant’ where you could see Bearded and Cape vultures feasting on some carcasses left there on purpose for these endangered birds to have what to eat.
Then there is the Drakensberg view point. Beautiful.
While this national park has a wide variety of wildlife, especially antelopes, all we saw was a couple of black wildebeest, a different species than the one in Tanzania (blue wildebeest), looking very much different as well.