The eastern part of South Africa’s Free State province, lying along the Maluti mountains, is a place for all seasons. Enjoy afternoon thundershowers in summer and see it transformed into a snowy wonderland in winter. In autumn, trees and grasses form a mosaic of red and copper. Here’s my pick of 15 things to do in Clarens.
Note that I have included links to all accommodation and activity providers in the points below so that you can contact them directly to make a booking or enquire about prices. I have not mentioned prices because they change from time to time and the provider is the best source of up to-date info.
1. Visit a national park
2. Go shopping
3. Visit the cutest bookshop in the country
4. Delve into history
Pretend you’re a Free Stater during the Anglo-Boer War and discover what it feels like to capitulate to the British by visiting Surrender Hill about 10km from Clarens on the Fouriesburg Road. Or do a historical tour to visit the first Boer settlement after the Great Trek and the cave where women and kids sheltered during the Anglo-Boer War. If really old history (as in palaeontological) floats your boat, book a Dinosaur Tour to follow the fossilised footsteps of dinosaurs and mammal-like reptiles.
5. Go mountain biking
6. Go horse riding
7. Put on your walking shoes
8. Go quad biking
9. Fulfill your adrenalin junkie dreams
10. Visit the cherry festival
11. Take to the skies in a hot air balloon
12. Try your hand at fly fishing
Put on your silly jacket and hat and go catch-and-release fly fishing for trout in the Little Caldeon River at De Molen or Craigrossie Trout Lodge.
13. Eat out
14. Visit an art gallery
There’s no shortage of art galleries in Clarens, so if you love to surround yourself with art you’ll be a happy ray of sunshine. Think edgy contemporary art to landscapes, impressionism and realism to abstracts. A popular choice for browsing is the Blou Donki (blue donkey) in the Windmill Centre, which includes sculpture and ceramics from established and emerging artists.
15. Stay in Clarens accommodation
If you love nature or are on a tight budget and want to camp, the campsite at the Golden Gate Highlands National Park is only about 20km east of Clarens.
Clarens is about 280km north-east of Bloemfontein in the Free State, and about 40km south-east of Bethlehem.
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