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YYou’ve seen the cities. You’ve felt the hustle and bustle of urban life in South Africa, but you’re yearning for more. Well you’re in luck. Just over an hour outside of Johannesburg, nestled on the banks of the Vaal River, you’ll come across a small town with a big heart.
Meet 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, as well as that South African small-town charm. River rafting on the Vaal River is a half-day or a full day of fun. The experience is tailor-made to suit all ages with safety gear, life jackets and helmets provided.
FFor the less adventurous, this Free State tourism town offers a choice of art galleries, antique shops, pubs, delis, spas and restaurants. If you’re into discovering the history of South Africa and even want to take a piece of it home with you, this charming little town in the Free State is one to visit.
TThe 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, forcing the lower rock layers to the surface and creating a semi-circular mountainous indentation 42km long.
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.