We detoured a couple of times off the main road taking us up amongst the buttresses and higher elevations. The air clarity meant we saw for miles. We distinguished areas of bare ground, some of which were due to poor fertility and thin soils, but others reputedly from massive ammunitions fires from the Boers that scorched the earth and basically killed it.
Few trees grow here in the Golden Gate, but a few protea clung to the hillsides. These weird plants are common place in gardens across the world, but in their native habitats are restricted to Southern Africa and mainly South Africa itself. Its thick leathery leaves are well suited to the dramatic changes in temperature in these high elevations.
At one location we got a picture of just how fragile the rocky escarpments are; a fresh rock fall, so clean and bright, may have only possibly dropped in the last week, and you could see the brand new scar in the rock face too. Gradually the mountains here are being worn away, but from the scale and quantity of them, the Park is safe for a few more millennia.
The main road dropped down onto a wider green plain. A small herd of zebra were grazing nonchalantly a hundred metres from the road, an ostrich or two were glancing around. Sometimes South Africa’s landscapes seems more like the USA or New Zealand, and then a sighting like that will put you right back on its own continent.