Golden Gate NP, Free State
Rhebok Hiking Trail (2 days and 1 night): maximum of 18 persons per group. Advance booking essential. Hikers provide all own necessities.
Some of the most spectacular mountain scenery to be found in South Africa is to be found in the north eastern Free State around Clarens. The Golden Gate National Park is situated close to this picturesque little town and contains the most majestic part of this area. The park stretches up to the Lesotho border and consists of 11,600ha of mountain grassland (it is hoped soon to be enlarged by the inclusion of the QwaQwa National Park). The Rhebok Trail stretches out into this area and allows the hiker to experience the spectacular scenery which includes the rich coloration of the sandstone cliffs that give rise to the parks name. Wildlife in the park includes Eland and Black Wildebeest.
There is no designated accommodation for hikers at the start of the trail, so one has the choice of booking either a camping site or chalet at Glen Reenen Rest Camp or make other arrangements at a nearby town such as Clarens or Harrismth. It is important to be able to make an early start on your hike, especially in summer when heat can be a problem as well as electric storms during the afternoon. Petrol is available at Glen Reenen and there is a Parks Board shop that sells the very basics.
Day 1-14 – 2km:
The first day of the trail starts off with quite a steep ascent up Brandwag. To prevent erosion the path is concreted in places but this does not seem to detract in any way from the natural feel of the trail. The sandstone cliff formations along this section of the trail are probably the most beautiful to be found in the Free State. Looking back over Glen Reenen and the mountains beyond, the views are quite awesome but also rather daunting when one realizes the task ahead of one on the second day. The trail evens out and follows Boskloof for some distance, leaving the views of Glen Reenen and the tarred road far behind. The stream has carved its way through the rock leaving some interesting formations and some lovely rock pools. Care needs to be taken as the rocks can be slippery. It is important to not dwell too long here as you still have some distance to go. The vistas of natural grassland with the grandeur of the surrounding mountains is a photographic delight. The trail eventually descends to cross the main road before a relatively easy walk to the overnight hut.
Day 2 – 13,9km:
An early start is again advisable as the walk can take anything up to 8hrs. The first part of the day’s walk consists of a walk along the Ribbokspruit. Negotiating the waterfall can prove a little tricky especially when wet and it is advisable to make this a joint effort. Above the falls the trail starts its long ascent up Generaalskop. Some sections are very steep and can be viewed as strenuous especially in the heat. Mist and bad weather are common in the mountains and it is important to provide for every eventuality. When we did the trail one weekend in November, we had rain, hail, almost gale force winds and temperatures that plummeted to around 3°C. Close to the end of the trail we also had thunder and lightening. This shouldn’t put you off but be prepared! Once the top is reached one has magnificent views over Lesotho. However, if, like us you have mist, rain and cold, there is not much to see for your strenuous efforts. The way down is very steep in places and there are a few surprises like ‘Knee Brake’, a narrow ridge that one has to clamber along, to add some extra interest. The final part of the trail takes one past a scenic little dam and down a picturesque little kloof back to Glen Reenen.
Overnight Accommodation Trail:
The Rhebok Hut has bunk beds and mattresses, a kitchen area, an outside braai area with firewood supplied, flush toilets and a shower with cold water. Own kitchen utensils and cooking facilities, own sleeping bag.
The Rhebok trail is not an easy trail and should not be attempted by any group without an experienced hiker to lead them. Fitness is required along with being well equipped for any eventuality. Warm clothing is essential even in summer. Hikers should start their hike early and should carry plenty of water, especially during the dry months. Be prepared, however, for a hiking experience of note!
- R192.00 pp.pd
- Community levy 1%
- Conservation fee South African citizen: R49.00/ R25 pp.pd.
- Conservation fee SADC R97/R49 pp.pd.
- Conservation fee International R194/R97 pp.pd.
- Admin R55.00