The 11,600 hectares of unique environment is true highland habitat, providing home to a variety of mammals: black wildebeest, eland, blesbok, oribi, springbok and Burchell's zebra. The birdlife includes the rare bearded vulture and the bald ibis, which breed on the ledges in the sandstone cliffs.
The numerous caves in the sandstone rocks were once shelters for the Bushmen. Many of their cave paintings are well preserved. During the Anglo-Boer War (see "History" menu), many Afrikaans families hide here from the British.
The Golden Gate Highlands National Park is one of the real highlights of the Free State. Its main attractions are the massive, colourful sandstone formations, which shine golden-yellow in the evening sun, and from which the area takes its name. The vegetation in the Golden Gate nature reserve consists mainly of indigenous grassland. Long hiking paths lead through the quiet mountain world.
Top: Golden Gate National Park. Right: Caves in the sandstone. Left: Colourful sandstone formations.