South Africa - Golden Gate National Parc and artsy Clarens
Settling down and getting used to the travelling lifestyle again was an easy affair in Clarens. We loved our little Gnome Cottage. It was basically a 1-bedroom appartment with a huge garden. There was a corner for the kitchen and a cosy seating area insid next to the bed. The garden was all around with lovely flowers (mainly roses) and an old peach tree with table and chairs underneath. So our daily routine was, getting up early, enjoying the birds chirping while doing our morning meditation underneath the peach tree, having a superhealthy breakfast with fresh fruits lake papaya, mango and melon in the garden enjoying the tranquility and simply being happy. Then it was off to town for a wonderful cup of cappuccino or by car to some scenic activities around.
We are fans of these little artsy towns all over the world. By having a first look around the town of Clarens, we were reminded of El Bolson in Argentina. You have wide streets, mountains around, a pleasant climate, lovely cafés and very special shops. Well, we loved it instantly. It was this kind of place you plan to stay a couple of days and end up here for weeks. Unfortunately, we had some plans to be in time at a certain place, so this time, no chance for us to stay longer. But we definitely want to come back again.
Clarens is the perfect place to wind down. This is not the "normal" South Africa, where it can happen that a gun is pointing at you and you have to leave or your valuables (so to say, in this country you are stupid enough to carry them around if not needed anyway). No, in Clarens, you can simply walk along the streets, enjoy nature and leave your car behind. And this is what we did. We explored the little town by food, tested the coffee in some of the many cafés and browsed through the shops and small art galleries. One of the must-see-shops is "The Ugly Duckling". Not sure, if it is just some cheap chinese stuff, if it is south african kitsch, cool decoration or whatever. But it is special and definitely entertaining. The main shop is in the Town of Nottingham Road in the Midlands in Kwazulu Natal, but also the shop in Clarens has a bug variety of things for decoration. For sure it has some wonderful furniture!
Directly from Clarens you can make some wonderful hikes or you can take the car and drive up a stunning pass in Lesotho (which is "just around the corner). We opted for an other option. 1 day we spent hiking in the wheeping Golden Gate National Parc. What a beautiful parc! Some of the most scenic parcs in South Africa for sure. There are no wild animals, well, yes, there are, but this is not the reason to visit the parc. You will find vultures, zebras, different antilopes and many different birds. Beside the vultures we saw lots of animals. The amazing thing in this national parc is the sandstone mountain range. It is beautiful and is supposed to have a golden coulour during sunset. As it is summer, there is rain every afternoon so we could not observe the magic coulours at sunset as it was always cloudy. But the mountains are beautiful any time. The car is also great for self guided hiking. And this is what we did. Tracks are well marked. So just carry enough water, sun protection, a nice camera and go. We went up to Echo Ravine, an amazing kloof (canyon) and also hiked to Boskloof. Natures beauty at its best. By car, there are 2 scenic drives in the park which we also did. On those you'll find many animals and have fantastiv views all around the national parc. If you just drive through the parc, the entrance is free (as it is a major link to the town of Harrismith). But if you hike or stay, you must register at the parcs headoffice.
Inside the parc there is also the Basotho Cultural Village. There you can learn about the Basotho people's lifestyle. These are the indigenious people of Lesotho. As we did not have enough time to visit Lesotho, we took a tour around the centre. It was entertaining and funnily made. But it is not a must-see. Going to Lesotho is definitely the better option, but we spared it for next time.
Much to early our time around Clarens ended. We continued our trip further into the Drakensberg.