Geocaching and the Mosamane Hiking Trail, Free State
Did you know?
A 'muggle' is the name geocachers give to a non-geocacher. The name comes from the Harry Potter books.
It’s all about the thrill of the cache at the eastern Free State farm of Beatrix, which offers geocaching and hiking adventures.
Armed with your GPS and an appreciation of golden views, you start your adventure at a milk can at the front door of a converted barn, which offers comfortable, rustic accommodation. From here you either use your GPS or your penchant for cryptic clues, or both, to find the next clue.
The geocaching challenge is an approx. four-hour adventure on the farm without any marked trail to guide you. Geocaching, for those not familiar with it, is an adventure seeker’s treasure hunt, where you are given GPS points and clues to several ‘treasure’ points along the way.
There is actually no treasure to speak of, just the satisfaction of finding your way to each point, with views of mountain streams, magnificent rock formations and a rare tritheledontid fossil your reward.
For those who prefer a more straightforward trail, there is the well-marked, fairly challenging 7.5km Mosamane Hiking Trail, which leads you through the grasslands, where secretary birds note your passing, into the crimson and gold sandstone cliffs with their fantastical sculptural formations.
There are ladders and chains to help you negotiate the steep mountain section of the hike, which passes ancient caves called ‘Owl’s Eyes’, so-named because of their appearance. If you enjoy mountain biking, there’s also a tough but scenic 16km route that takes you through a different part of the farm to the hiking trail.
And if none of the above appeal to you, simply sit under a tree and soak in the landscape, which is home to a great variety of creatures, including the mosamane, a ground squirrel named in the local Sotho language – and you’ll see plenty of these.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Cell: +27 (0)82 340 9393
How to get here
The Mosamane Trail is about 300km from Johannesburg (about three hours' drive) and 230km from Bloemfontein (about two hours' drive). The closest town is Rosendal (10km away) on the R70, which can be accessed via the N5.
Best time to visit
It is a year-round destination, but please note: during summer you can expect maximum temperatures of 32°C with a cool breeze as the sun sets in the evening. 'Summer' can also mean four seasons in one day, with heavy thunder, lightning and showers. The winter climate is more predictable, with maximum temperatures of 20°C and average minimum temperatures of 4°C. Nights in winter can be very cold, so pack warm clothes.
Around the area
The eastern Free State is a wonderful area to explore and includes one of South Africa's favourite tourist towns, Clarens.
What will it cost
Overnight accommodation – R120 per person, per day
Day visitors – R50 per person, per day
Campers (own tents/caravans ) – R75 per person, per day
Administration fee – R35 once off per reservation
Length of stay
What to pack
Insect repellent and antihistamine cream for insect bites; light sources and matches (note that there is no electricity); personal toiletries and towels; dishcloths; all eating utensils; all cooking utensils; water bottles; charcoal or braai wood (can also be bought on site); own bedding or sleeping bag; food, snacks and drinks; suntan lotion and lip ice; basic first aid kit and essential medicine; long trousers and hat; GPS (optional); and camera. Note: limited cellphone reception. In case of emergency you can be contacted via the Mosamane cellphone number.
Where to stay
The renovated barn on Beatrix farm accommodates up to 19 people on single beds. It has an ablution block with six toilets, six showers with warm water from a 'donkey' (wood-fire-heated system), an undercover sundowner area and braai facilities. The kitchen has a fridge and gas burner. You can also camp.
What to eat
Bring your own food.