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Free State

At first glance, the Free State may not seem like the ideal choice of holiday destination. The Free State is, however, starting to emerge as a holiday destination with popular towns like Clarens and Fouriesburg patricularly gaining in popularity… MORE \ Discover Free State. To find a place to stay visit Free State Accommodation or Free State Hotels on SA-Venues.com. (Popular accommodation searches include Bloemfontein and Clarens).

Monday, 17 October 2016

Visiting Bloemfontein? Read This

Stay in Bloemfontein for a couple of days and you begin to realise that the city’s reputation as the redneck capital of the country is more than a little unfair. For any of the residents of the country’s judicial capital will wax lyrical, at the drop of a hat, about its laidback vibe, surprisingly pretty gardens and reserves, gorgeous sandstone public buildings and not half-bad nightlife.

We were in the capital recently and uncovered the best spots around Bloem.

Visiting Bloemfontein? Read on… Continued

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Top Ten Natural Attractions in the Free State

The term ‘free state‘ dates back to South Africa’s early history when, for almost 150 years, the white settlers, who lived between the Vaal and Orange rivers in an area they called the Orange Free State, were independent of British rule.

Today the fundamentally Afrikaans province is also the home of the country’s judicial capital and birthplace of the ANC.

However, the Free State’s major appeal is its natural beauty, open farmlands, and uninterrupted sky, quirky, idiosyncratic towns and villages, interesting road routes, and the vast rocky mountain area of the East Highlands.

For more on the Free State’s history, visit the City of Roses, Bloemfontein. This historical heartland is awash with museums, memorials and monuments.

For natural beauty, visit the Top Ten Natural Attractions in the Free StateContinued

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

I Love Parys Because …

I ♥ Parys

I ♥ Parys

Hi, I’m Andreas Leondios from Le Grand Chateau in Parys in the Free State.

PARYS IS BEST KNOWN FOR being on the outskirts of the largest meteorite impact in the world which resulted in the scenic mountains surrounding Parys. Parys is also renowned for the Vaal River which runs through Parys and the fauna, flora and activities which surround it. Parys also has two beautiful golf courses which have the Majestic Vaal River running through them and a variety of curio, antique and coffee shops.

GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AT Kiki’s vintage era photo studio situated on the main road. The photographs are timeless with a choice of sepia, black and white or colour and portray the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s era. Continued

Monday, 24 June 2013

The Free State’s flipside – take the N6 from Bloem to Aliwal North

The Free State gets a raw deal. Placed as it is in the middle of the country, most people simply travel through it without giving it more than a once over.

It doesn’t have mountains (unless you count the Malutis way over east) nor does it have a coastline to speak of (there is the odd dam) and for those passing through via the N1, its unvarying flatness gives the impression that there is little else to break the monotony bar the odd hay bale.

But actually the Free State has a lot to offer, particularly scenically. Travel through here during early winter or spring and the combination of gently swaying cosmos, effervescent blue skies and crisp morning air will soon change your mind. Continued

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Discover Parys

Peaceful Parys

Peaceful Parys

Just an hour’s drive from Johannesburg and the OR Tambo International Airport is the small, but infinitely abundant, town of Parys.

Parys is situated along the Vaal River in the Free State and combines natural diversity and beauty with historical value and a distinct sense of heritage. Being so close to Johannesburg means that Parys can be a day-trip for those staying in the City of Gold, but is also a destination in its own rights.

Discover Parys – Here are some of Parys’ favourite attractions and activities:

Breë Street – the best way to get the most out of the main street in the town is to walk it. This busy street is lined with awesome shops, art galleries, craft stores, antique dealers and eateries. There is something for absolutely everyone to enjoy along Breë Street. Continued

Monday, 21 May 2012

I Love Gariep Dam Because …

I ♥ Gariep Dam

I ♥ Gariep Dam

Hi, I’m Robin van den Berg from Rose Cottage in Gariep Dam.

Gariep Dam IS BEST KNOWN FOR superior accommodation at affordable rates and stunning view of the dam and wildlife.

GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AT the Gariep Dam wall.

THE BEST Gariep Dam PICTURES CAN BE TAKEN AT the entrance road leading up to the upper town.

OTHER HAPPY SNAPS AT Rose Cottage restaurant. Continued

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Lions in Action – Bagamoya Wildlife Estate

Bagamoya Wildlife Estate

Bagamoya Wildlife Estate

Bagamoya Wildlife Estate lies roughly 35 kilometres outside of Bloemfontein in the direction of Maselspoort. Out here the grass is long, the trees reminiscent of the bushveld and the skies a vivid enough blue to evoke many a novel depicting the beauty of the wild plains of South Africa.

Today’s open spaces are limited. Many of them, like Bagamoya, are closer and closer to cities and more like animal enclosures than they are game parks or farms. Being rather averse to zoos at the best of times I find I have mixed feelings on entering the estate. Two large, modern and fenced enclosures house two huge lionesses and a male lion, closest to the gate. One lioness is separate from the other two.

Above them, up a series of steep steps, is a viewing room where we’re greeted by a stuffed lion, its magnificence very obviously diminished by the taxidermy process. The enclosures below us are little bigger than those experienced in a zoo, although they lack the paltriness some of these institutions begin to exhibit. Continued

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Bloemfonteins Botanical Garden – Perfect for Photo Moments and Lazy Afternoons

Bloem's Botanical Gardens

Bloem’s Botanical Gardens

Bloemfontein gets a rather raw deal. Mention that you’re spending Christmas there and you’re immediately the recipient of sympathetic looks. Some people will even groan out loud, assuming this will automatically make you feel better.

Fortunately I have no attachment to the city one way or the other. I won’t go as far as to say that I’m fond of it, but every city has its positive side. It is, however, where my in laws live, and last year we had to make a couple of concessions; sisters out all the way from London did not have Cape Town on their itineraries – more’s the pity.

With the whole family together in the Free State – a rare and momentous enough occasion at the best of times – a photo shoot was in order, and the Botanical Gardens topped the list as a venue. It’s free (well, for those of us with a National Botanical Gardens membership), pretty and wouldn’t be too busy. Continued

Monday, 20 February 2012

I Love Harrismith Because …

I ♥ Harrismith

I ♥ Harrismith

Hi, I’m Alet from Greensleeves Guesthouse in Harrismith.

Harrismith IS BEST KNOWN FOR being a friendly town. It’s also well known as the halfway stop between Durban and Johannesburg.

GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AT the Platberg Mountain which is in the Platberg Game Reserve adjoining the Botanical Garden.

THE BEST mountain PICTURES CAN BE TAKEN AT the Botanic Garden.

OTHER HAPPY SNAPS AT the town hall and the other beautiful, old buildings in town. The town hall is a National Monument; an impressive sandstone and brick building that was built in 1907. Continued

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

I Love Ficksburg Because …

I ♥ Ficksburg

I ♥ Ficksburg

Hi, We’re Dennis and Tereza from Malutizicht Lodge in Ficksburg in the Free State.


GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AT General Fick’s Monument which is in front of the town hall. The hall itself is a national monument.

THE BEST scenic PICTURES CAN BE TAKEN on top of Emperani Mountains.

OTHER HAPPY SNAPS can be taken anywhere along the R26 to Fouriesburg and Bethlehem.


WHEN THE WEATHER’S BAD, I LIKE TO play scrabble or paint and Dennis likes to play bridge.

I THINK THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT IS summer, BECAUSE it is the coolest place in South Africa. Continued

Friday, 11 November 2011

I Love Bethlehem Because …

I ♥ Bethlehem

I ♥ Bethlehem

Hi, I’m Evette from Lavender Hill Country Estate in Bethlehem in the Thabo Mofutsanyana region of the Eastern Free State.

BETHLEHEM IS BEST KNOWN FOR its beautiful scenery it also has a number of historical sandstone buildings, many of which are now provincial heritage sites.

GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AT the old ship at Loch Athlone.

THE BEST nature PICTURES CAN BE TAKEN AT Bethlehem Bird Park.

OTHER HAPPY SNAPS AT the Bethlehem Museum and Sol Plaaitjie Dam. Continued

Monday, 5 September 2011

I Love Fouriesburg Because …

I ♥ Fouriesburg

I ♥ Fouriesburg

Hi, I’m Guilletta from Pumula Guest Farm in Fouriesburg.

Fouriesburg IS BEST KNOWN FOR asparagus, unbelievable sandstone rock formations; the ‘Queen Victoria’ is listed as one of the 20 highest loose-standing rock formations in the Free State and the largest rock overhang in the Southern Hemisphere while ‘Salpeterkrans’ is on the way to Clarens.

GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN INSIDE the old car at Jen-lee’s.

THE BEST autumn colour scene PICTURES CAN BE TAKEN anywhere in the Fouriesburg district.

OTHER HAPPY SNAPS can be taken on the tractor outside the Plaas Stoep Pub. Continued

Monday, 25 July 2011

I Love Bloemfontein Because …

I ♥ Bloemfontein

I ♥ Bloemfontein

Hi, I’m Jan Fourie from Camelia Guest House in Bloemfontein in the Motheo Region of the Free State.

Bloemfontein IS BEST KNOWN FOR its friendly inhabitants and its historical sandstone buildings which comprise good material for art photos. If interested in capturing people relaxing at open restaurants, visit the three major shopping centres namely Mimosa Mall, the Waterfront or Preller Square.

GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AT Oliewenhuis. The gardens are neat, spacious and well kept. You will find lovely corners in the gardens where you can relax and compile your own setting for photos. Art objects next to the art museum also offer opportunities for creative photos.

THE BEST nature PICTURES CAN BE TAKEN early in the morning at the botanical gardens.

OTHER HAPPY SNAPS AT the zoo. Continued

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

5 days – Cape Town to Johannesburg, via the Free State

Fields of Cosmos

Fields of Cosmos

Ah, the heart of the country where the sun almost always shines, or at least for 340 days of the year. Swathes of wheat fields, cosmos and sunflowers with a backdrop of rolling hills, incredible sandstone mountains, and roads that lack congestion, give or take the odd pothole. This is the Free State.

Right through the middle of this province runs the main route between Cape Town and Johannesburg. Called the N1, this road runs straight, very straight, through terrain utterly land-locked that is also the country’s third-largest province – known as the bread basket of the country because it produces soya, sorghum, wheat, potatoes and sunflowers. But how many of us have followed our heart’s desire and spent time off the N1 in amongst the cosmos and fields of wheat? Continued

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Rosendal – the “new” Clarens?

Rosendal, Free State

Rosendal, Free State

I’d heard that Rosendal is the “next” Clarens and seeing as we were en route from Ficksburg to Clarens and Rosendal is only a teeny bit off track we used this as our opportunity to pop in and see the village for ourselves.

One is greeted by a fairly large ‘map’ of Rosendal when arriving but to be honest we drove down a dusty track and thought to ourselves ‘what the heck is all the fuss about’ – in fact we couldn’t even find a shop of any kind!  We spotted a church steeple and being the intrepid, seasoned explorers that we are made our way towards that landmark …

Aha – good move that was.  Almost directly opposite the church is Turvsy Trading; a cauldron of enamel signs, antiques, bicycles, woollen goods and just about everything else you could think of.  I walked into the shop and my jaw hit the ground!  It was like walking into a regter egter trading store 100 years ago; Continued