Golden Gate National Park

The Golden Gate Highlands National Park gets its name from the spectacular golden glow of the sandstone mountains as the late afternoon sun begins to set. This is a place of captivating and breathtaking scenery and some of the most exquisite sunsets you will ever see! Dark shadowy outcrops meet gorgeous red and yellow skies in the dying evening light. Hike through this highland wilderness and experience the incredible natural beauty of the land!

  • Best Time to Go

    October - May

  • Average Safari Cost

    $150-$700 pp/day. Park fee: $16 (adult), $8 (child).

  • Highlights

    The Brandwag Rock, cave paintings, spectacular sunsets, walking and hiking trails and the Cathedral Cave.

Why Visit Golden Gate National Park

The Golden Gate Highlands National Park is a stunning landscape filled with beautiful scenery, lush vegetation, rugged cliffs and cultural history. This is no typical African safari destination as none of the Big Five can be found in this park. However, this land offers a truly rewarding experience as you will find stunning vistas unlike any other place in the world.

See the golden face of the Brandwag Rock as it juts out of the land and glows a radiant gold in the afternoon sun. Journey into the Cathedral Cave where a crack in the rock ceiling lets streaming rays of sunlight into the caves, creating an ethereal and magical atmosphere. Walking and hiking trails allow you to explore the land on foot, which is perfect for outdoor and nature enthusiasts.

While this park isn't a typical wildlife viewing destination, there are still plenty of animals to see roaming the land. Many antelope species wander through the plains. You can see the endangered oribi as well as zebra, springbok, eland, blesbok and black wildebeest.

Pros and Cons

  • Beautiful scenery
  • Great destination for birdwatching
  • Cave paintings
  • Close to Clarens, which offers many accommodation options
  • Hiking and walking trails
  • Limited wildlife (none of the Big Five are present)
  • Small road network for game drives

Best Time to Go

The best time to visit the Golden Gate Highland National Park is from October to May. These are the warmer months of the year and are also during the wet season. This is the best time to see the park's scenery as the vegetation is lush and green and the skies are clear of dust. Daytime temperatures are mild and pleasant as they average about 72˚F (22˚C). Nights and morning are quite cold with temperatures averaging 46˚F (8˚C). This is the best time to see newborn animals and migratory birds. Afternoon rain showers and thunderstorms are frequent during these months but rarely continue all day. However, they may disrupt hiking and walking activities in the afternoons.

Wildlife viewing is moderately better during the dry season (May to September). This is when vegetation is thinner and animals tend to gather at the water sources within the park. Days and nights get much colder during these months with night-time temperatures dropping as low as 5˚F (-15˚C). There is little to no rainfall which makes it much easier to plan hikes and walks. It may even snow and turn the park into a beautiful white wonderland.

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Wildlife and Birds

Golden Gate Highlands National Park is not known as a wildlife destination, as its main attraction is its scenery, however, there are still plenty of animals to see. Many species of antelope can be found grazing on the land, including the endangered oribi. Springbok, red hartebeest, black wildebeest and eland can be seen wandering the land in their herds. If you're very lucky you may even see a caracal prowling through the night.
List of Animals
  • Spingbok
  • Warthog
  • Wildebeest
  • Zebra

Rare Animals

  • Caracal, aardwolf, African wildcat

Common Animals

  • Black wildebeest, springbok, eland, black-backed jackal, zebra

There are over 250 recorded species of bird in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, making it a great birding destination. Here you can find the rare bearded vulture at the Vulture Restaurant, where the birds are fed and can be seen up close. This park is also home to the endangered bald ibis as they nest on the cliffs. Impressive birds of prey, such as jackal buzzards and martial eagles, can be spotted circling in the skies or perching in high spots around the park.

Endangered Birds

  • Grey-crowned crane, Southern bald ibis, Cape vulture, Black Harrier

Endemic Birds

  • Grey-winged francolin, Southern bald ibis, Ground woodpecker, Cape Weaver, Yellow-tufted pipit, Drakensberg siskin, Eastern long-billed lark, Cape rock thrush.

Getting There and Safety


Most foreign visitors will fly to O.R Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg. From here it is very easy to drive to the park as it is only a short distance away. A visit to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park is often one of the stops on a safari tour package which organises transport to and from airports so check with your operator. Self-drive safaris can also be arranged.

For the flights to South Africa, it is advised to check Skyscanner (for multiple destination flights), to see which airlines can take you there and compare various ticket prices.

If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to South Africa.

If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to South Africa.


All foreign visitors must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after their visit. Most nationalities may obtain a 90-day entry permit upon arriving in the country. You can find out whether you need to apply for a visa in advance or obtain one upon arrival on South Africa's Department of Home Affairs website.

For more information on visas see our South African Safari - Complete Country Guide.


Check your local travel health authority for more information:

Travel Insurance

Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris in South Africa. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.

Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of your safari trip cover.

Safety in the Park
There are no predators in the park so it is safe to walk around. However, you should always be aware of your surroundings and be cautious of any wildlife you encounter. Ensure you pack plenty of drinking water for walks and hikes to avoid dehydration.
What to Pack

Pack clothes for both warm and cool weather as it can get very hot during the day and quite cold at night depending on what time of the year you go. Try to pack neutral, earthy toned clothes and avoid bright colours and white. Other essential items are a hat, sunglasses, sun screen, toiletries, closed shoes, torch, batteries, insect repellent, first aid kit, binoculars and camera.

For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List.