The village

Golden Gate Highlands National Park Travel Blog

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Today we have an opportunity to enjoy this glorious setting  as we spend the day exploring the park. There are a number of trails that lead through the sandstone escarpment, affording us some magical views across the grasslands and forests towards the mountains of Lesotho and beyond. Golden Gate is the only national park in the Free State and the only grasslands national park in the entire country. Much of its woodland is dominated by Oldwood trees (Leucosidea sericea), whose flaking bark, twisted trunks and silver-haired leaves afford them the look of antiquity, but in fact provide a refuge and sustenance for some 117 different species of beetle alone apparently.

The original inhabitants of the area were the Khoisan, the San Bushmen, who occupied these escarpments and grasslands prior to the arrival of the Basotho and the Europeans.

Evidence of their existence can still be seen in the ancient San paintings that cover some of the rock faces along the trails. Golden Gate is more renowned for its scenic beauty than its wildlife, but we do see some of its resident populations grazing amongst the open plains and the park is certainly blessed with many of Africa’s antelope species. The birds we see during ourday include black storks, Cape vultures, Verreaux eagles, Drakenberg siskins and rock kestrels.

First this morning we visit the Basotho Cultural Village which nestles at the foot of huge sandstone mountains, we get an insight into the lifestyle of the South Soto from the 16th century to thepresent. On arrival at the Cutural Village, the friendly receptionist shows us an introductory video which illustrates the building process of the museum.

Demonstrations of the decorations of huts, making of basketware, crushing of maize and traditional dances. 

Our tour commences at the Khatloa under the expert guidance of a tour guide as you cannot enter the chief's village and explore the way of life of his people without first receiving his permission. He will offers a sip of Sotho beer as a token of hospitality and you may then engage in a traditional game of maraba-raba. At the Ngaka (the chief's bone thrower) the throw of his which bones will give the visitors a peep into the future. At the dwellings of the first and second wives, visitors will enjoy some motoho and dipabi. The utennsils and colourful decorations are discussed and explained. Volunteers are sought out to try on the traditional dress of the local people.

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Golden Gate Highlands National Park
photo by: pilgrim68