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TThere's nothing quite like the colour of Free State sandstone. In the early morning and late afternoon, it appears to change colour – from brilliant red and burnt orange to pale gold.
The sandstone route is a peaceful meander through and around the pretty towns of Clarens, Ficksburg, Fouriesburg and Clocolan.
In the town of Clarens, around a 3-hour drive from Johannesburg, there's a huge sandstone formation that stands like a ship's prow over the town. It’s aptly named Titanic Rock.
Clarens is the arty anchor of the sandstone route. It's packed full of arts-and-craft shops, galleries and restaurants. If you prefer to catch your own food, there are plenty of trout streams in the area.
The highlight of the sandstone route is a drive around the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, only 20 minutes from Clarens. It's there that that you'll see the area’s famed sandstone in astounding formations.
Ficksburg, also a sandstone village, is a wonderful place to explore, especially if you're interested in Bushman rock art. Nearby is Fouriesburg, which is famous for its cherry farming.
The eastern Free State sandstone route is captivating any time of the year, but its signature season is autumn. That's when the Lombardy poplars turn golden, and the roads are lined with merry cosmos flowers in soft pink and white
If you're interested in a self-drive tour through South Africa, include this gorgeous route.
TTravel tips & planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)58 256 1542
Best time to visit
The area is beautiful year-round. The Ficksburg Cherry Festival takes place in November every year.
Things to do
The sandstone route is famous for its scenic hikes.
What to pack
Pack comfortable hiking shoes, sun protection and spending money.