Learn about medicinal plants at the Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Posted on 5 December 2018

Known for its sandstone peaks and protected grasslands, Golden Gate is also home to many endemic plants that play an important role in Basotho culture. A great way to explore these is by joining a guided hike with a traditional healer, which starts at the Basotho Cultural Village, on the eastern side of the park in the QwaQwa section (all other walks traverse the opposite end of the park).

These sandstone cliffs not only glow gold at sunrise and sunset, the slopes
below are rich in healing plants. Image by Melanie van Zyl

The Herbal Trail was as much a history lesson as it was a natural sciences one – and a good workout: the two-hour activity had me climbing above plains dotted with springbok, blesbok and red hartebeest, then up past mountain-cabbage trees and into some shallow overhangs. At the top, I was rewarded with sweeping views and a gallery of San rock art painted onto powdery sandstone walls. I also learnt a lot about the natural cures still used today, such as the geometric spiral aloe which heals skin and repairs tissue.

Image by Melanie van Zyl


R60 per person. Conservation fee R48 per person.

Do it 

Walks are on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. I recommend visiting in summer so you can swim in the natural pools along the other hiking trails. Booking is essential as the guide is not based at the Cultural Village. 0582551000

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