December 7, 2022


Born to perform

Fabulous Free State

5 min read


FreestateIn the heart of South Africa lies the Totally free State, generally neglected as it much more typically than not is merely the province we whizz by means of en route to our seaside holidays… But it features so substantially much more for the adventurous traveller! We packed the somewhat roomy Suzuki Baleno to the brim and headed out in exploration of this vast province.

Believed examining time: 5 minutes, 17 seconds.


Understanding that the province’s funds (and legislative funds of the nation), Bloemfontein, was the birthplace of JRR Tolkien, the author of the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, I could not assist but consider of an job interview with him I read through a whilst in the past. When requested about how he navigated his feelings via developing Middle-Earth, he quipped, “I sensibly began with a map.” So we followed suit, dusted off our map guides and set out to investigate.

Very first up was the world-well known Golden Gate Highlands Countrywide Park. Driving the Lichens Pass that operates by way of this park, we could not enable but continually prevent to admire the amazing views featuring majestic rolling mountains and a industry of flora and fauna as much as the eye can see. One particular of our favorite stops alongside this 14km-prolonged pass incorporates the Dinosaur Interpretive Centre at Glen Reenen – a celebration of the numerous dinosaur fossil web pages unearthed in this location (a single getting the oldest dino egg at any time located, dated at 200 million years in age!). When one particular can take a look at this countrywide park on a working day excursion, most men and women fall in love with the remarkable elegance and continue to be on extended to delight in a wide variety of things to do, which includes horse using, mountaineering, 4×4 trails and white-h2o rafting.

Some other highlights on the move involve a stop at the Van Reenen Loved ones Graveyard, Gladstone Dam Lookout, Brandwag, Mushroom Rocks, a vulture cafe and, for historical past and geology buffs, the Anglo-Boer War Ammunition Dumping Web-site and Dolerite Dyke viewpoints. The park is also dwelling to one of only two Afromontane forests in the nation (the other remaining in Graskop, Mpumalanga). One particular ultimate emphasize is a visit to the Basotho Cultural Village to discover about the common life of the Basotho men and women who have lived in the vicinity and just throughout the border in Lesotho for generations. Guests are taken on a tour run by actors in classic gown to satisfy the main, sample the standard beer, be entertained with a display of traditional dance and study about the added benefits of the curious spiral aloes (distinctive to the Drakensberg) drugs from a traditional healer. You can right away in a standard Basotho rondavel.

Some 20km west of Golden Gate is the artsy town of Clarens, amazing for its dressed stone architecture glowing beneath the sandstone massif of the Rooiberge and the Malutis to the southeast. All 12 months spherical, but significantly for the duration of spring when the fruit trees blossom or autumn when the leaves convert gold, this dorpie is a scenery magnet for artists and photographers. It is a accurate arts and crafts centre, with the compact streets lined with studios, outlets and eateries (in which, at most, you can enjoy some scrumptious regional craft beer). This town is usually the past quit for 4×4 tours from Lesotho and the famed Sani Move. Subsequent time, we’ll pack the Jimny for a excursion by means of the passes of Lesotho – undoubtedly a bucket checklist merchandise for numerous journey travellers!

A further tiny town in the No cost Condition unquestionably value a stop by is Parys, some 300km northeast of Bloem and only about 100km from Jozi. With its quite a few galleries, antique outlets, h2o, and adventure sporting activities, the town gives the suitable weekend location for campers who take pleasure in angling. For us, the more considerable attraction all-around this area is the Vredefort Dome, 10km south of town. Some two billion many years in the past, an asteroid the measurement of Table Mountain slammed into earth at an approximated speed of 30,000km/hour to form a 300km-wide crater. There is a properly-made, interactive customer centre and many excursions available, but the multi-day Vredefort Meteorite mountaineering path offers a entire unique viewpoint of this geological surprise – well value discovering!

Of class, this extensive province is littered with attention-grabbing smaller towns and dorpies value exploring. 1 of our favourites will have to be Philippolis, at just less than 40km² it is smaller than some of the massive maize farms in the area. What would make this town specially particular is an exciting conservation undertaking on the banking companies of the Vanderkloof Dam the place you can see Bengal tigers – certainly, you browse that right – in the wild. A effective wildlife knowledge that will go away all who visit modified for good, Tiger Canyon has been in operation for 21 yrs and now boasts a whole of 17 2nd, 3rd and fourth technology wild-born, wild-lifted tigers roaming the golden grasslands. Incorporate to this a strolling safari amongst cheetahs and you will realize why this is a ought to-go to.

A different smaller dorpie we stumbled throughout was Rosendal, about 90 minutes from Clarens. Viewed as just one of the province’s finest-retained techniques, Rosendal is property to a scattering of artists, eateries, and lots of large-open blue sky. It is a exclusive area to get some downtime and take in some of the inspirational landscapes encompassing this little hamlet. In the same way, the modest city of Bethulie features freedom to breathe. An significant historic place – it was home to a focus camp that housed above 500 gals and small children throughout the Anglo-Boer war – the town’s highlight should be the Royal Lodge. Unassuming from the outside the house, this gem presents one of the country’s premier book and vinyl LP collections.

A limited 45-minute generate away, you will discover the great Gariep Dam (the greatest male-built dam in SA). An oasis en route to Cape Town, you need to consider remaining a little bit more time to discover the area. We stayed the night time and appreciated an even more amazing stargazing encounter than wherever in the Karoo owing to the stars’ reflection on this wide system of drinking water. Other activities include a myriad of complicated mountain bicycle trails, river rafting, boat cruises and a gliding encounter demonstrating the contrast of the adjacent arid Karoo versus the lush inexperienced river banking companies – incredible.

We have only scratched the surface area of what this remarkable province delivers. There are quite a few other smaller towns these as Memel, Koffiefontein, Jagersfontein, Fouriesburg, Zastron, Smithfield, Ficksburg, Springfontein and Fauresmith (to title a several) – every single presenting one of a kind encounters.

If we have learnt a single issue putting these getaways with each other for you is that we stay in the most varied and attractive nation in the planet. Get the time to discover the gems in the South Africa platteland and be prepared with our suggestions to make the most of any road vacation: The ultimate information to planning a vacation road journey | Suzuki

South Africa is a traveller’s aspiration and we get to connect with it property – why not e book a exam generate in just one of the Suzuki’s and head out to examine? 

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