If you’re visiting Joburg, consider visiting the town of Parys, so-named in 1876 by its surveyor, who said its setting reminded him of Paris on the River Seine. This Free State tourist town is a gateway to adventure, river rafting and water sports in South Africa.

Did you know?

Water sport activities in Parys include river rafting, water skiing, canoeing, angling and power boating. Other adventure sports on offer include abseiling, gliding, hiking and 4x4 routes.

The town of Parys in the Free State is a hotspot for adventure and watersports, with a range of activities for all ages and fitness levels.

River rafting on the Vaal River with accredited facilitators is a half-day or a full day of fun. The experience is tailor-made to suit the age and capabilities of participants, and safety gear, life jackets and helmets are provided.

For the less adventurous, this Free State tourism town offers a choice of art galleries, antique shops, pubs, delis, spas and restaurants.

The Vredefort Dome is another major attraction. The crater was formed two-billion years ago when possibly the largest meteorite ever to strike the earth crashed home, forcing the lower rock layers to the surface and creating a semicircular mountainous indentation 42km in diameter.

The annual Dome Adventure Festival takes place in and around Parys in November and offers music, sporting activities, fly-fishing, water sports, stalls, competitions and even Dragon Boat Racing.

And one of South Africa's largest mountain-bike races, the Crater Cruise, takes place annually during the second weekend in October every year at Parys and in the surrounding Dome Area.

Another Parys attraction is the Dell Cheetah Centre, 10km outside of town, where you get the opportunity to interact with fully grown cheetahs.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Parys Info & Tourism
Tel: +27 (0)56 811 4000

Dome Adventures and R.E.A.L Adventures
Cellphone: +27 (0)82 924 3941
Email: bookings@domebookings.co.za

Dell Cheetah Centre
Email: cheetah@parys.co.za

How to get here

From Joburg, Parys is a 1.5-hour drive. Follow the N1 to Bloemfontein and take the turnoff to Parys.

Best time to visit

All-year round, unless you specifically want to ride the wildest rapids, in which case you need to plan for the summer (December to February) – this is a summer rainfall area.

Get around

It's best to drive here.

What to pack

A swimming costume, walking shoes, camera, golf clubs, mountain bike.

Where to stay

Parys offers a good range of accommodation, including the Coach House, and Vaal-de-Rama.

What to eat

Parys has a number of excellent restaurants.