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The Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Golden Gate Highlands National Park lies nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains of the north-eastern Free State and is the only national park in the province.

The park is a natural habitat to a variety of mammals, including black wildebeest, eland, blesbok, oribi, springbok and Burchell’s zebra. And while there’s no big game viewing on offer, the park makes up for it with the scenic views of the landscape and picturesque Maluti Mountains.

It’s a must-visit for bird-lovers as it is home to over 140 bird species which includes the rare bearded vulture (lammergeier) and the equally rare bald ibis, which breed in the ledges of the sandstone cliff.

Golden Gate Highlands National Park derives its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the park’s sandstone cliffs, especially the imposing Brandwag rock. A sight to behold when visiting the park at sunrise or sunset.

The highest point in the park, Generaalskop, reveals a breathtaking tapestry of red, yellow and purple hues as its warm shades merge with the cool mountain shadows towards evening, so pack your camera as an iPhone won’t do this view justice.

Places of interest at Golden Gate Highlands National Park include:

  • the Van Reenen family graveyard
  • the impressive Brandwag buttress rock formation
  • a bird hide at the Langtoon Dam
  • interesting lookout points and viewpoints – Zuluhoek lookout point, Generaalskop viewpoint, the third highest point in the park; Oribi basin and Drakensberg view.

The park is home to a variety of glorious hiking trails to choose from, depending on the fitness and age-groups of the hikers. The Ribbok Hiking Trail Golden Gate Highlands National Park This two-day, one-night trail can take a maximum of 18 people per group to the very top of Brandwag Buttress.

Undeservedly low on the parks-to-visit pecking order, the Golden Gate Highlands National Park is a great day out for the whole family, with stunning views of some of the most beautiful landscapes South Africa has to offer.


Get your art on Clarens

Widely considered as an artist’s hideout, it’s easy to see why so many South African artists choose the town to either settle in or visit to draw inspiration from the town and its surrounds for their next painting piece, novel, or album.

Clarens is blessed with a unique and outstanding landscape surrounded by mountains and scenic beauty rarely seen anywhere else in the country. The tranquil village ambience combined with scenic views and a mild climate have made this town a popular getaway for many people and artists alike. And while the landscapes and scenery is something to behold, it only fits that the galleries within the town match up as well.

Boasting with more than 20 top art galleries, it’s easy to see why Clarens is considered an art haven, not just for artists, but art enthusiasts as well. Visitors to the town can enjoy what is known as the “Art Route” or simply stroll from gallery to gallery to enjoy the wide variety of artwork on offer.

The works art buffs can look forward to enjoying range from prestigious paintings from well-known South African artists to artisan crafts which includes leatherwork, glasswork, handmade weapons and everything in between.

We round up some of the must-visit galleries in town:


Situated in the heart of the picturesque village of Clarens in the Sindmill Centre, you can find the Blou Donki Art Gallery. The Blou Donki Gallery, with its modern, stylish, and trendy ambience, showcases artwork by leading and emerging artists from across South Africa.

The gallery houses a fine collection of paintings, ceramics, functional art, sculptures, and photography. Relax with a cup of coffee on one of their leather sofas and immerse yourself in the world of South African contemporary art…


Essensual Art Gallery in Clarens is not your typical art gallery – be prepared to step into a sensual world of art where the human form is celebrated in various artworks, styles, and subjects.

The great thing about this gallery is its affordability of beautiful works of art and not just the prestigious works of the most famous. Visitors can expect to find regular exhibitions of artists from all over South Africa. Stop by the gallery when you visit the beautiful village of Clarens, it’s well worth it.


Anton Grobbelaar opened one of the country’s most exciting Art Galleries, the “Art & Wine Gallery on Main” in Clarens. The first and only Art and Wine Gallery in South Africa brings a piece of the Cape all the way to the Free State. Art and Wine lovers get to experience the best of both worlds with the widest range of top-quality wine and unique artwork by established artists at affordable prices. This is certainly a place not-to-be-missed by either wine- or art lovers.


For something a little out of the ordinary, the Smudge Contemporary Art Gallery in Clarens stores a comprehensive collection that ranges from edgy to downright eccentric. Conventional and conservative are not the words used to describe this art gallery situated in Main Street.

Artists with lots of talent and energy including up-and-coming, emerging or established artists, these are the type of artists whose works you can expect to see at Smudge. Elsje opened the first and only contemporary art gallery in Clarens, with the hope of bringing these artists, as well as patrons and investors of contemporary art, under the same roof.


Situated on the town’s bustling village square, Addy Hoyle is one of Clarens’ founding galleries. This family-run gallery, sells a variety of originals and prints, from tranquil landscapes to botanicals from local and established artists. The owners, artists and husband and wife team Simon Addy and Lynne Hoyle, keep it close to home, and their daughter, Nella’s work, is also sold in the gallery.

Town Cinema to Screen Indie Movies

An independent film is a film production resulting in a feature film that is produced mostly or completely outside of the major film studio system. In addition to being produced and distributed by independent entertainment companies, independent films are also produced and/or distributed by subsidiaries of major film studios.

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