Lying between the Vaal and Orange Rivers in the heart of South Africa, the Free State is the country’s “breadbasket”, producing over 70% of the grain on 30 000 farms. Consistently blue skies and predominantly prairie-like scenery, accented only by the odd hill and the Eastern Highlands, await the visitor in a part of the country that is imbued with a warm hospitality. From the Maluti Route that follows the Highlands across the border into Lesotho, to pretty towns like Clarens, there are a wealth of activities and breathtaking scenery in the Free State. Here are our favourite things to do in this beautiful province.
Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Situated at the foot of the Maluti Mountains is the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Deriving its name from the shades of gold created by the sun on the sandstone slopes, the park is well known for its beautiful scenery. Black Wildebeest, Eland, Oribi and Burchell’s Zebra can be found in the area, but it is the natural beauty of the area that attracts many tourists. The area has many good hiking trails including a hike to the top of the Sentinel, which provides beautiful views over the area including a view of Tugela Falls, the second tallest waterfall in the world.
Free State National Botanical Garden
The Free State National Botanical Garden located just outside Bloemfontein is home to some 400 species of plants, mainly from the Free State, Northern Cape and Lesotho. A meandering paved path, perfect for the more elderly visitor and the physically disabled, takes one through the gardens, whilst the more agile can venture up the koppies. The Free State Botanical Garden offers some magnificent examples of wild olive and karee trees, an orange blossom arbour and a petrified tree, thought to be over 150 million years’ old. Indigenous plants are on sale from Monday to Saturday and special plant sales are held annually, usually in September or October.
Bagamoya Wildlife Estate
Located in Motheo in Bloemfontein, a visit to the Bagamoya Wildlife Estate is a unique experience and allows you to interact with large cats including lions, tigers and much more. This is a truly African experience where you can enjoy game drives, lion feeding, the Lioness restaurant, kids play area and lots of other outdoor activities. While visiting the estate you may come across 28 different types of buck, giraffe, hippo, lama, camels, lions, tigers, bat-eared fox and lots more.
Nestled on the banks of the largest dam in South Africa is Forever Resorts Gariep, an ideal leisure destination. Facilities include luxury chalets, a 3star caravan park, restaurant, bar and a supermarket. With a host of activities, Gariep Dam is a water sport enthusiast’s paradise.
Stretching along the Maluti mountains with expansive countryside views from every vantage point, the Free State has become a popular tourist destination for culture vultures and adventure enthusiasts alike. South Africa’s third largest province has it all: from its quaint little towns to its breathtaking scenery, the Free State is steeped in history and full of unexpected surprises.
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