28 November 2013 by Lethabo-Thabo Royds

Charismatic Clarens

The magnificent town of Clarens in the Free State is the perfect weekend getaway. Here visitors can enjoy a range of activities, from bird watching to browsing arts and crafts, playing a round of golf or even white-water rafting on the nearby Ash River.

The nearby Golden Gate National Park is a must-see when visiting Clarens. Photo courtesy of Paul Bruins, aka Panorama Paul.

The Love South Africa group on Flickr is constantly updated with fantastic images taken all over the country. Why not share your pictures, too?

Each week we choose photos from this group to showcase on our blog. This week we're celebrating the calm and captivating town of Clarens in the Free State, which is a haven for artists, foodies, nature lovers and history buffs.

Clarens, also called 'the Jewel of the Free State', is a small town at the base of the majestic Maluti Mountains, the mountains between South Africa and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.

Clarens is known for its magnificent vistas, sandstone mountains and lush, green valleys and hills. It is especially beautiful in spring and summer, when the flowers are in bloom. The writers at clarens.co.za describe Clarens as being 'endowed with more trees than most other Free State towns'. It truly is a picturesque part of South Africa.

Photo courtesy of Paul Bruins, aka Panorama Paul

Clarens is a three- or four-hour drive away from the major cities of Johannesburg, Bloemfontein, and Durban. As it's away from the hustle and bustle of the busier cities, stargazing opportunities abound. Enjoy wonderful views of the South African night sky right from your lodge.

Photo courtesy of Yvonne van Dalen, aka Yvonne V

During the day, golfers will enjoy a visit to The Clarens Golf Estate, which has fantastic views and an impeccable course. For culture and history, attractions in and around the town include rock paintings and the historic architecture. When planning your trip, visit Clarens Tourism for some helpful hints, information, and popular activities.

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Gill

The Free State is well known for its poplars and in Clarens, there is no shortage of these fast-growing trees with leaves that turn to yellow, providing splashes of colour during the autumn months.

Photo courtesy of P VanSchalkwyk, aka P vanschalkwyk1

Arts and crafts lovers will also enjoy Clarens, as its arts and crafts shops and artists' exhibition spaces are one of the highlights of the town.

Another highlight is a tavern tour in the township of Kgubetswana. For those wanting to immerse themselves in the culture of this township, this is a great chance to meet the locals.

Photo courtesy of Bothma van Tonder

If it is still light, you have a good chance of seeing local children in the township playing games with their friends - one of the more popular sports being football (also known as idiski).

Photo courtesy of Bothma van Tonder

Clarens was named in honour of Boer president Paul Kruger, who lived out his last days in Clarens in Switzerland after fleeing South Africa during the South African War (also known as the Anglo-Boer War) in 1900. During the Basotho/Free State wars, five burghers from the Transvaal were murdered during the siege of Naauwpoort. Kruger and a commando of burghers later defeated the Basotho at the Battle of Naauwpoort, commemorated by this monument.

Photo courtesy of Aquila

When driving through South Africa, Clarens is definitely worth putting on your list of interesting towns to visit. Then be sure to take lots of photos of your time there and share those photos with the Love South Africa Flickr group. We would love to see your photos and read about your experiences.

Category: Attractions, Culture & History

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