The Golden Gate Highlands National Park is a nature reserve, with fully serviced accommodation, camping facilities and a basic shop ... it’s NOT just an "attraction" as listed on TripAdvisor. I've tried to contact them about this ... but no luck.
Anyway, Golden Gate Highlands National Park, while not really "hidden" seems to be off the beaten track for most people, which is a pity (for them) because it’s one of my most favourite places to visit in South Africa. The surrounding mountains are truly spectacular, especially in winter when you usually have crisp, deep blue skies and the most incredible sunrises and sunsets that really bring out the colours in the sandstone that makes up the mountains.
Although it’s a national park, there is only a short "game drive" of about 20km, where you're likely to see a few zebra, eland, wildebeest, babaoons, etc. But what really sets the park aside is not so much the limited game viewing, but the stunning mountain landscapes.
On my last stay with friends, we booked a rondavel which was, to be honest, pretty adequate. Had it been in any other location, I'd have given it 2 stars, but purely because of the location, it still gets a 4...
Everything was clean, tidy, and there was plenty of hot water in the shower, but on the downside, the interior was dark and dingy, some of the lights didn't work (missing bulbs), blinds didn’t open/close properly, very low water pressure in the shower, and the braai area was enclosed by a high fence made of poles (presumably to keep the wind out) but it made you feel like you were braaing in a really small enclosed backyard of a townhouse, rather than in a nature reserve. The draws in the kitchen were inadequate, poorly made, partially falling apart, and were generally just not in a good state. Electric blankets were a very pleasant surprise, but they had a 2 pin plug attached, with no adapter for the 3 pin socket, so couldn't actually be used. Weirdly, the only switch for the loft light was practically on the floor behind the bedside tables, making it almost impossible to get to.
On the Saturday, the cleaning staff arrived when one of us happened to be using the shower, so the door was locked. They disappeared and never came back.
On the plus side, they allowed us to depart 2 hours later than normal without any fuss, and phoned us late on Sunday to report that the cleaning staff had found a silver ring (not ours) which was a also a pleasant surprise - honesty like that is pretty unheard of in South Africa …
There is a small shop with all the basics, and the Golden Gate Hotel (very, very nice!) is less than 1km away, if you feel like a restaurant meal. Overall still a very, very pleasant stay, would definitely be back, and I can still highly recommend Golden Gate Highlands National Park, just as long as you know what to expect, and are not expecting more luxurious facilities.
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