Free State geological wonders
Did you know?
The Free State geological attraction, Vredefort Dome, is the world's largest and oldest known meteorite impact site.
The Free State has many geological wonders to be explored. Shaped by time, these striking features are as visually awesome as they are significant to the history of the world. Two of the Free State's top geological attractions are the cliffs of the Golden Gate Highlands National Park and the Vredefort Dome.
The geological wonders of the Free State were formed anything from millions to billions of years ago.
The northern Free State's Vredefort Dome is the impact site of a major meteorite, believed to have struck earth two billion years ago. Scientists gauge that the meteorite was 10km in diameter, larger than South Africa's Table Mountain.
It is estimated the impact vaporised 70 cubic kilometres of rock, leaving a 300km-diameter crater. This crater is now represented by a ring of hills, northwest of the impact point, called the Vredefort Hills. They are all that remain of the crater - the other peaks formed by the meteorite impact have since been covered by age-old sediment.
Visitors can hike the hills, or abseil, horse ride and canoe the area around the Vredefort Dome, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
South of Vredefort, in the eastern Free State, are the geological wonders of the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. This protected area is renowned for its impressive sandstone features, most notably The Sentinel buttress.
The Sentinel is the most northern point of the Drakensberg mountains and an iconic symbol of this national park. The Sentinel hiking trail takes visitors 3 000m above the Drakensberg Amphitheatre, affording spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
The area is filled with other interesting sandstone formations including caves, overhangs, rock shelters and cliffs, such as the peculiarly named Gladstone's Nose and Titanic.
The Golden Gate Highlands National Park rests at the foothills of the Maluti Mountains, which are geological wonders themselves, and which provide a dramatic backdrop to the beautiful eastern Free State.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Free State Tourism
Tel: +27 (0) 51 411 4300
SA National Parks
Tel: + 27 (0) 12 428 9111