Fieldtrip 1: Ingula Nature Reserve

The Ingula fieldtrip is a full-day activity. Please understand that this means you will miss out on the Tuesday morning’s conference sessions.

Wetlands Walk at the Ingula Nature Reserve and visit to the power station

In 2003 the Ingula Partnership was established between Eskom, BirdLife South Africa and the Middelpunt Wetland Trust with a common conservation objective of managing the Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme as a sustainable conservation site. It is a classic example of how an industrial undertaking can be integrated within a conservation area and will hopefully provide a model for future conservation initiatives.

Join us for a picturesque 6,5km hike through and alongside the newly designated Ramsar wetlands to one of the large wetland rehabilitation structures on the Ingula Nature Reserve, weather permitting. The hike should not take longer than 2,5 hours, after which there will be a visit to the Ingula Visitors Centre and underground power station of the Ingula Pumped Storage Scheme.

Please note the following:

  • The Ingula fieldtrip is a full-day activity. Please understand that this means you will miss out on the Tuesday morning’s conference sessions.
  • Please wear comfortable clothes and shoes that you don’t mind getting wet and will dry quickly, as some sections of the hike will require you to go through wetlands.
  • The hike involves quite a few up- and downhills, and given the time constraints a steady pace will be required.
  • Please wear closed shoes for the power station visit. Other safety equipment will be provided.
  • Please bring snacks and water with, as there are no shops nearby.
  • Only 30 people will be allowed on this fieldtrip. First come, first serve.


Fieldtrip 2: Brandwag Butress hike

Brandwag buttress hike @2.7km for people who are not challenged for steep walking (can be completed in 2 hrs max). No visit to Golden Gate would be complete without a hike to the top of Brandwag Buttress (Afrikaans for “Sentinal Buttress). This sandstone cliff adorns all the postcard of the park as it has a golden glow at sunrise and sunset; hence the name Golden Gate.

The back-and-forth route from the Glen Reenen Rest Camp is just 2.4 km and should take roughly an hour to complete. The majority of the hike is along a very gentle and clearly-marked path with exception of the final stretch before the cliff itself; here you’ll find a moderate rocky outcrop that has to be climbed carefully. Although there is a fixed chain to help you with this, it shouldn’t pose much of a challenge for anyone with the ability to clime a ladder or steep staircase.

A second route from the Golden Gate Hotel approaches Brandwag Buttress from the west and is a shorter route comprised mostly of man-made steps build along the mountain side. This handy short-cut should be reserved for anyone who only has enough time for a hurried scramble up the hill; because it lacks the views and sandstone overhangs of the main route.

Fieldtrip 3: Mushroom Trail

Mushroom trail @ 3.9 km can accommodate everyone (can be completed in 1h)

The walk to the Mushroom Rock starts at the Glen Reenen Rest Camp where you buy a day ticket which enables you to walk or take one of the two drives into the Golden Gate National Park. 
The hike up to Mushroom Rock is a fairly steep 2 km walk. The route starts behind the Cathedral Peak Hotel to the oddly shaped landmark. It takes in two landmarks and offers lovely views of the Little Berg and Escarpment wall, especially at sunrise. Lovely bridges to cross and a cave to climb through. Beautiful scenery9

Fieldtrip 4: Blesbok Loop | Oribiloop wetland

The drive to these sites start at the conference venue and the first stop would be Blesbokloop , heuweltop wetland  then proceed to Oribiloop wetland and vulture hide and lastly BCV which will be about 2km wetland walk with different types of wetland interventions. Please note that we will use our own transport for the drive and remember to wear comfortable clothes.

Drive to blesbok loop including  wetland site and vulture hide ( for all after the hike can be done in 1hr)


Golden Gate Highlands NP is situated on the watershed between the Vaal and the Orange River systems, contributing quantity and quality water, with the Lesotho-Highlands Water Project and the TugelaVaal transfer scheme, to the Gauteng region and into the Orange River system. 
As such, the park forms part of the most important water catchment in Southern Africa, namely the Maloti Drakensberg Catchment Complex. Approximately 30% of the total water supply of Southern Africa is produced by this catchment complex. The Little Caledon River, which drains towards the Orange River and Gariep Dam, and the Klerkspruit River, which drains towards the Wilge River and Vaal Dam, both rise from the park. Ground water, which is sourced by means of seven boreholes equipped with water pumps, is also utilised for domestic use by tourists and staff in the park. Patches of high altitude wetlands exist in the park and the conservation thereof is of international importance.