Did you know?
The first successful cherry trees were planted in South Africa in 1905 on the farm Platkop in the Clocolan district near Ficksburg.
Ficksburg, in the Free State province, is an attraction-filled rural destination 400km from Johannesburg that offers a wide range of out-of-the-ordinary activities.
Gavin Boy, who runs a Ficksburg advertising agency, has put together an appealing visitor’s guide to the area, which includes chocolates, cherries and a riverboat ride.
'Our goal is to encourage people to come and explore this beautiful rural destination, and so we put together a list of exciting experiences that people of all ages and interests can enjoy,' says Boy, who is also coordinator of the annual Cherry Festival.
Ficksburg is the largest cherry-producing area in South Africa, and hosted its first Cherry Festival in 1968. At the festival, which takes place in November each year, visitors can indulge in fresh, succulent cherries.
If cherries are not for you, then perhaps a visit to an asparagus farm may be of more interest.
There is also a chocolate factory in the village, where decadent McKinley Chocolates are made by chocolatier Calen Thomas from Alaska, who visited Ficksburg some years ago, fell in love with it and stayed.
Another indulgence is White Mischief, a riverboat owned and managed by Boy. Sip cocktails or enjoy fine single-malt whisky as White Mischief cruises along the Meulspruit Dam through Thaba Sediba Private Nature Reserve.
It’s a wonderful birding experience, with over 100 species to be spotted, including fish-eagles, goliath herons and malachite kingfishers.
If you’re the active sort, you have a choice of hikes and horse trails in the area. And if you are interested in farm crafts, you can learn how to make cheese or down duvets.
For an artistic experience, visit Ficksburg’s Pellissier Gallery, with its world-renowned Pierneef San murals.
While in town follow the Sandstone Way, and learn about the village’s historic sandstone buildings, built from the surrounding sandstone mountains, which glow golden in the early morning and late afternoon light.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: + 27 (0)82 920 5551
How to get here
Ficksburg is 400km from Johannesburg and 165km from Bloemfontein – where there is an airport and a choice of vehicle hire companies.
Best time to visit
To see the cherry trees blossom, visit in the 2nd week of September, and to eat cherries, visit from the last week of October through to November. The Cherry Festival is in late November each year.
Around the area
The sangoma university and hospital are in the mountains near Ficksburg. Ask for directions once you are in Ficksburg, as there are no contact details for this fascinating cultural experience.
Self-drive is the best option.
What will it cost
There is a range of accommodation to suit all pockets.
Length of stay
Stay 3 days if you can.
Where to stay
Visit the Go Ficksburg website for a wide range of guest houses, B&Bs and farm stays.
What to eat
Most of the guest houses, B&Bs and farm stays offer meals, and there are several restaurants in Ficksburg.