Basotho people, inhabitants of this
part of the province and adjacent areas, including
the Kingdom of
Lesotho, first came into contact with
the European settlers in the 19th century, the
Basotho Wars broke out.
Today Phuthaditjhaba, the place of the 'meeting
of the nations', is the focal point of the arts &
crafts of the local African communities, depicting
Basotho culture at its best.
The small town of Clarens lies just west of
the Maluti mountain range between Bethlehem an
Golden Gate NP, and is the perfect country
retreat. Known as the `jewel of the Free State�,
Clarens is very popular with the artistic community.
The Golden Gate
Highlands National Park and the Qwa-Qwa National Park, with their
formidable red sandstone buttresses and impressive
mountain vistas, ensure a memorable scenic
In the Qwa-Qwa Park lies the
Village, an absolute must for an authentic African
The fertile valley of the Maluti
mountains inspired white settlers in 1864 to
name the new town Bethlehem (Hebrew for 'house of bread').
named, it has grown from strength to
strength and today, with a population of
60-70,000, it is the commercial centre of
the eastern Free State.
The Voortrekkers built their town using
sandstone hewn from the surrounding cliffs,
creating a legacy of outstanding
early conservationists had the foresight to
leave the land along the banks of the
Jordaan River untouched and today, Bethlehem
encompasses two unspoilt nature reserves:
Pretoriuskloof Nature Reserve & Bird
Sanctuary in the town, and Wolhuterskop Game
and Nature Reserve on the outskirts.
Other things to see in Bethlehem
Baartman House; an impressive collection
of antiquated farming implements, kitchen
utensils, wood carvings and old leather.
Bethlehem Museum; the history of the
town is well documented by wagons,
furniture, horse carriage, farming
implements and an old steam locomotive.
Harrismith is a small, charming country
town, founded in 1849. The town is well
known for its factory shops, gardens, golf
course (the oldest in South Africa) and
links with the South African War (second
Anglo-Boer war of 1899-1902). Close by
are battle sites, blockhouses and a military
The Swinburne bridge, spanning the Wildge
River, is the second oldest bridge in the
Free State. Opened in 1884, now it looks
less impressive compared to larger brothers.
It is a National Monument.
At Kerkenberg the Voortrekkers camped whilst
their leader, Piet Retief, negotiated with
the Zulu leader Dingane. After receiving
reports of what the Voortrekkers interpreted
as successful negotiations, Retief's daughter
wrote his name and date, (which was also his
birthday), on the rock where they held a
The 2,394m Platberg or 'flat mountain'
is Harrismith's landmark. A famous race,
claimed by some to be the toughest in South
Day visits from Bethlehem or Harrismith
include: Royal Natal Park, the base of the
Drankensberg Sentinel, Golden Gate Highlands
Basotho Cultural Village,
Boer War battlefields and hiking trails.
massive Sterkfontein Dam just south of Harrismith is ideal
for water sports.
The Salpeterkrans sandstone
overhang near Fouriesburg is a bizarre example of
The bird-watching Mecca of the Seekoevlei Nature
Reserve near Memel is a wetland with RAMSAR status and is surrounded by private game and holiday