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FESTIVALS

What does it mean to be free? To unshackle yourself from the daily pressures of life and to completely absorb yourself in something truly breathtaking? Or is it the ability to explore the cultural of a small town and the ancient lands that surround it? Perhaps it is to feel your heart beating beneath your chest as you embark on an adventure? The answer is all of the above!

All of which can be found in and around Golden Gate Highlands National Park and the

Village of Clarens in the beautiful Free State.

 

THE NATIONAL PARK

Golden Gate Highlands National Park less than 20km east of Clarens to appreciate sandstone mountains formed from compacted sand dunes 190 to 196 million years ago when the area was a desert. If you drive one of the mountain loops you can see mammals like eland, hartebeest and zebra, as well as 60 species of grass and layered views of the surrounding mountains. Visit the vulture hide on the Oribi Loop for a chance to see the endangered bearded vulture (lammergeier) and other vultures. Have fun learning about culture at the Basotho Cultural Village and see the signature Brandwag Buttress (pictured above) lit up at night, when it has a more mysterious aspect than in bright sunshine.

SHOPPING

Clarens shops offers everything from pottery, leatherwork and handmade knives to art galleries, traditional blankets and books. Find quality leather shoes, belts and bags at Groundcove. Other browse-worthy shops include the outdoor Clarens Unique Garden Products with its wrought iron gazebos and other garden furniture, the Ugly Duckling for a collection of curios, rugs and furniture, the Cheeky Mouse for scarves, wooden signs and woven mats. For vintage clothing and antiques, visit the Mona Lisa Garment Gallery. There are plenty of nice décor shops dotted around the town to temp you into a purchase.

 EAT OUT

If you’re looking to enjoy a leisurely meal, there’s an abundance of Clarens restaurants and coffee shops lining the streets. Highly recommend is the Sugar & Cinnamon and

Clementines, where you can sit outside under a shady awning to enjoy good food and a chilled atmosphere and 278 on Main. Other popular restaurants are the GOSTO a taste of Portugal, Courtyard Café and Bakery The Highlander and for awesome Pizza visit Mosaic Pizzeria.

Discovery into the delicious world of craft beer and cider visit Clarens Brewery.

 MOUNTAIN BIKING

Bring your mountain bike and ride one of the trails in the area. Choose from a sedate 11km village loop or a track through the Clarens Village Conservancy to some single-track technical stuff with tough climbs to the top of a mountain. The guys to talk to are Clarens Xtreme, who will sell you a map for a small fee.

HORSE RIDING

If a different kind of saddling up appeals to you, go horse riding in Clarens. Do a hour-long morning ride into the mountains around the village or a two-hour sundowner ride on a cowboy ranch. Book ahead with Bokpoort.

QUAD BIKING

Joining Sethuthuthu Tours to quad bike up steep inclines and through little mountain streams  Guides will tell you about the indigenous plants, geology and history of the . Other outfits that offer quad biking  are  Clarens Xstreme and Outrageous Adventures.

HOT AIR BALLOON

Experience the romantic thrill of floating into the air over the Maluti mountains for wonderful views over the Eastern Free State. Contact 

Hot Air Ballooning SA.

FLY FISHING

Put on your silly jacket and hat and go catch-and-release fly fishing for trout in the Little Caldeon River at De Molen / Craigrossie.

VINYARDS

Three years ago the owners at Rehoboth Lodge planted their first vines, visualizing a Boutique Vineyard. Today they have a productive vineyard with cabernet, chenin and pinotage and will be making their first wine during February.

GOLF

There’s no shortage of art galleries in Clarens, so if you love to surround yourself with art you’ll be a happy ray of sunshine. Think edgy contemporary art to landscapes, impressionism and realism to abstracts. A popular choice for browsing is the Blou Donki (blue donkey) in the Windmill Centre, which includes sculpture and ceramics from established and emerging artists.

HIKING TRAILS

There’s a number of short walking trails in and around the town, as part of the Clarens Village Conservancy. Most give good views of the village and are easy to moderate in difficulty. Find more about these here. The Golden Gate Highlands National Park nearby also offers many hiking trails, from the one-hour Mushroom Rock walk near Glen Reenen Rest Camp, one-hour Holkrans and Brandwag Buttress walks near Brandwag, or the four- to five-hour hike up to Wodehouse Peak at 2440m. You don’t need to book for any of these but it’s always a good idea to tell someone where you’re going.

4×4 TRAILS

Bergwoning 4x4 Trails are found 15 km from Clarens close to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. The one trail is a grade 3 trail that promises to be a memorable one for the whole family to share. It’s a 6km, self-drive, family oriented scenic trail that offers spectacular views that will take roughly 2 hours to complete. While the other is a guided adventure trail of 26km, four to seven hours led by the owner of the establishment. Therefore novice drivers will find as much pleasure from the trails as experienced drivers.  The route is generally available year round, but the conditions during the changing seasons ensure the route presents different challenges in each season. From moss covered terrains to snow and winter conditions, steep ascents and river crossings.

ADVENTURE SPORT

If you’re looking for an adrenalin rush, then you’re spoilt for choice with Clarens Xtreme, who offer everything from abseiling and ziplining to white-water rafting along the thrilling Ash River Outfall from the Lesotho Highlands. Outrageous Adventures also offers white-water rafting and abseiling.

River Rafting, Abseiling, Archery, Climbing wall, Paintball, Quad Biking, Guided Tours, Bungee Bounce, Team Building, Zip Line, Mountain bike Trails,  Mountain Bike Hire

ART GALLERIES

There’s no shortage of art galleries in Clarens, so if you love to surround yourself with art you’ll be a happy ray of sunshine. Think edgy contemporary art to landscapes, impressionism and realism to abstracts. A popular choice for browsing is the Blou Donki (blue donkey) in the Windmill Centre, which includes sculpture and ceramics from established and emerging artists.

 

Other Galleries to visit: 

Addy & Hoyle Fine Art, Bear’s Art, Peter Badcock-Walters Gallery, Art & Wine Gallery,Clarens Art Guild, Art & Artist’s Corner , Helen Claassen Gallery, Peter Bonney Studio, Robert Badenhorst Art Gallery,  Loezytha’s Art, Tina de Beer Gallery, Steet Café Art Gallery, Smudge Contemporary Art Gallery. 

FESTIVALS

CRAFT BEER FETIVAL

This is craft beer country. Nestled in the foothills of the majestic Maluti Mountains lies the beautiful village of Clarens, one of SA’s most sought after travel destinations.

For one weekend a year Clarens plays host to over 8000 thirsty travellers and 24 select Craft Brewers in a celebration of the flavours and the passion of South African craft brew.

Taking place February 21 - February 22

For more info check out Clarens Craft Beer Festival

BIKE FEST 2020

Welcome to Bike Fest SA’s™  2020 Premier Biking Festivals Revving up for 5 unique Motorcycle, Music & Destination Riding Festivals Its time to put those knees in the breeze and come celebrate a full throttle lifestyle! South Africa’s biking elite will be riding & rocking a series of biking events throughout South Africa positioned at different times of the year in SA’s most beautiful inland & seaside villages including the West Coast, North Coast, South Coast, Claren’s & Jeffrey’s Bay. The beautiful Coast of Africa has spectacular scenery, boasts...

for more info check out Bike Fest SA's 2020

CHERRY FESTIVAL 

Visit in November for the annual Cherry Festival in Ficksburg about 80km from Clarens. If that’s too far, support the vendors in the town square by buying a punnet of summer-fresh cherries.