With the feel of a small country village, Bloemfontein is one of South Africa’s most relaxed and welcoming cities. You’ll likely pass through 'Bloem' at some point on your way across South Africa’s heartland, and there are some small-scale sights and good restaurants to keep you occupied for a day or two. With a name meaning "Flower Fountain," it's no surprise that Bloemfontein is also home to a beautiful botanical garden. In the surrounding areas, animal lovers can commune with big cats at a couple of popular wildlife parks. Here are 3 things you need to check out in Bloemfontein.
Free State National Botanical Garden
Snuggled in a gentle valley between dolerite rock outcrops, the Free State National Botanical Garden immerses visitors in natural landscapes of indigenous forest, grasslands, karee trees, and sculptural wild olive. The 70-hectare garden nurtures more than 400 different species of plants, primarily from the Free State, Lesotho, and Northern Cape. While wandering along the self-guided wilderness trails, keep an eye out for some of the park's small reptiles and mammals such as mongeese. After exploring the park, visitors can enjoy a picnic on the beautiful lawns or refuel at the restaurant.
Located in the beautiful Bainsvlei in Bloemfontein, the Cheetah Experience is a non-profit organisation that offers a magical “See, Sense, Touch” hands on experience. Enjoy a 60 to 80-minute guided tour, where you’ll meet cheetahs, lions, leopards, servals, caracals and wolves. This helps to conserve endangered species and was founded in 2006, with a long-term goal of breeding cheetahs and releasing them back into a “protected wild.” The sanctuary's mission is to direct their love for wildlife into saving "endangered species through captive breeding and awareness," and many of the staff are passionate volunteers.
The National Museum of South Africa
Established in 1877 the National Museum of South Africa stands as an international institution, focussing on natural and cultural history and art. The museum's paleantology and archaeology section has many interesting exhibits and seeks to show visitors what the world was like millions of years ago. The Oliewenhuis Art Museum is part of the National Museum and is aimed at conserving and collecting works of art that represent the heritage of South African art. Guided tours through the National Museum are available or browse the many exhibits at your leisure.
Bloemfontein's atmosphere is unlike any other city in that it offers a small-town spirit along with the convenience and energy of a bustling city. Despite its small-town feel and rich historic heritage, the city of Bloemfontein is as modern and technologically advanced as any other city. The city offers activities and sights that appeal to modern city-dwellers, but it has the added advantage of nature and wildlife in close proximity. This combination promotes a unique lifestyle that pleases locals and visitors alike.
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