Hugging the Lesotho border for 280km from Phuthaditjhaba (Witsieshoek) in the north to Wepener in the south, the tarred Maloti Route offers one of South Africa’s most scenic drives, taking you past massive rock formations streaked with red and ochre, cherry orchards and sandstone farming towns. Wedged into a corner between Lesotho and northern KwaZulu-Natal, Phuthaditjhaba is the gateway to the Sentinel, from where it’s easy to hike the Drakensberg Escarpment. Not far to the west is the highlight of the region, the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, encompassing wide-open mountain country. The park is an easy three- to four-hour drive from Johannesburg, which means you could easily use it as a first- or last-night stop if you’re arriving or leaving from Johannesburg and don’t want to spend the night in the city. Nearby, the Basotho Cultural Village is worth visiting to gain some insight into Basotho traditions. The closest village to the Golden Gate Park is Clarens, a centre for arts and crafts and the most attractive of all the villages along the route.

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