Free State highlights
Did you know?
Bloemfontein was the site of one of the world’s first concentration camps. The National Women’s Memorial there pays homage to the 45 000 women and children who died in a British concentration camp set up during the Anglo-Boer War.
The Vredefort Dome
This UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Free State province features the largest and most visible meteorite impact crater on Earth! A meteorite larger than Table Mountain slammed into the ground approximately 2 000 million years ago near what is now known as Vredefort in the Free State.
Its impact excavated a crater 190 km wide and 20 km deep and formed, among other things, a huge rock-like dome, known as the Vredefort Dome. Today the Vredefort Dome Conservancy is an excellent place for adventure tourism.
Golden Gate Highlands National Park
The Golden Gate Highlands National Park, with its rugged ochre outcrops and wealth of unique wildlife, is a real magnet for a photographic safari.
This 11 600 hectare park provides a home to a variety of mammals including the black wildebeest, eland, blesbok, oribi, springbok and Burchell’s zebra.
Birdlife at Golden Gate is nothing short of spectacular and include the rare bearded vulture (lammergeier) and the unique rare bald ibis, which breed on the ledges in the sandstone cliffs. Walks and hikes are a major drawcard and the numerous sandstone caves were once shelters for the San (Bushmen) and many of their beautiful rock paintings are well-preserved.
Basotho Cultural Village
The Basotho Cultural Village nestles in the heart of the Qwa-Qwa National Park, a mere stone’s throw away from Golden Gate. Come learn more about the fascinating Basotho culture, listen to stories of African folklore and become familiar with the gentle sounds of handmade musical instruments.
Witness demonstrations of hut decoration, the crushing of maize, traditional dancing, basketry and perhaps purchase a few worthy souvenirs – local arts and crafts and the traditional Basotho blankets.
The small town of Clarens in the Eastern Free State is something of an artist’s hideout.
Visitors arrive in Clarens and suddenly find themselves in a frenzy of art-buying, restaurant-hopping, cycling, game-viewing and hiking in the foothills of the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.
There are certainly no dull moments to be had in this vibrant little dorp. It’s not surprising then, that locals call the place the ‘Jewel of the Free State’. Other notable small towns in the Eastern Free State include Fouriesburg and Ficksburg.
The Free State is known for its rugged sandstone cliffs, rolling hills and imposing mountains, so the area is the adventure-enthusiast’s dream. Many of the hiking trails feature San Bushman rock art sites, along with plenty of free-roaming game and a few historic battlefields.
Overnight trails provide accommodation in old farmhouses, rustic huts, chalets and campsites and you will also have the unique opportunity to overnight in a cave. In addition, there is river rafting, mountain biking, horse-riding and of course – fossil hunting.
Free State highlights at a glance:
• Vredefort Dome – meteorite site
• Golden Gate Highlands National Park
• San Rock art sites that date back centuries
• Clarens – for small town vibes
• Sundowners at Naval Hill, Bloemfontein
• Basotho Cultural Village
• Gariep Dam for water sports and outdoor fun
• The Sandstone Route – a must for self-drive getaways
• Ficksburg Cherry Festival
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Free State Tourism Authority
Tel: +27 (0)72 982 1421