Eastern Free State
The Eastern Free State, is undoubtedly the core of the Free State province, encapsulating the essence of its diversity.
It is here that the Maluti Mountains meet those of the Drakensberg to form a rugged sandstone backdrop to an area that contains charming towns; despite the distance between them that include Clarens; undulating hills, battle sites, first rate fly fishing, the Golden
Gate Highlands National Park, and the annual Ficksburg cherry festival. Be sure to visit Fouriesburg, 2013 town of the
Resting between the Orange River in the south and the Vaal River in the north, the Eastern Free State (Thabo Mofutsanyana) boasts a rugged and mountainous area in the east that is completely contrary to the Free State image of endless maize fields and dry, blue skies. These served the Basotho people (people of the peaks) who used the caves and slopes of the Maluti Mountains as hideaways and a means of defence in years gone by. The valleys, by contrast, are densely vegetated, through which hiking trails effortlessly provide one with breathtaking scenery. The Golden Gate National Park, the Free State’s only national park, lies in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains, close to Clarens.
The Qwa-Qwa National Park, which merged with Golden Gate Highlands national park, includes the Basotho cultural village and other historical highlights such as the Van Reenen family graveyard. Some twenty seven farms near Fouriesburg claim instances of Bushman rock art, Tweespruit boasts the Claerhout Art Gallery, Bethlehem, the commercial centre of Thabo Mofutsanyana is also home to the Wolhuterskop Nature Reserve, and November is the time to visit Ficksburg for the famous cherry festival. Thaba Thabo Private Nature Reserve is renowned for its scenic setting and can serve as a convenient base camp from which to explore the rest of the area.
The charming town Rosendal with its well known theatre was originally a farming town and just across the border from Ficksburg is Lesotho which offers numerous attractions like the Katse Dam and Afri-Ski Resort.
A feast for the eye, soul and gastronome. Cherry orchards cling to the sides of flat topped sandstone mountains which reflect the different
colours of the sunrise and sunset, as you gently meander along the border between South Africa and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.
The Southern Highlands are on a main route linking the Cape and Garden Route, to KwaZulu Natal, Gauteng and Mpumalanga (Kruger Park). The Southern Highlands also link South Africa and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.
Apart from cherries, other deciduous fruit and asparagus thrive in the champaign climate, making spring and early summer a feast of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Many people visit the area especially for its picturesque beauty. But no matter whether you are driving through, en route to somewhere, or just retreating from the rat race for a couple of days, you will be tempted to linger a while longer.
Each season offers its own attractions; roaring, open log fires in winter, cherry blossoms and then the succulent fruit in spring, hot summer days and golden autumn sunsets.
The entire region borders the scenic mountain kingdom of Lesotho, which is known for its majestic beauty, simplicity and serenity.
The Southern Highlands is the land of a thousand pictures.