Free State

The Free State lies in the heart of South Africa, in the middle of sunflower- and corn field, sheep farms and seemingly endless hills. Here you will find a lot of farms and small villages. Many tourists leave this province aside when planning a trip to South Africa, but the Free State has much to offer. Besides endless fields there are also lush valleys, narrow gorges and breath taking mountain streams.

In the east towards the Drakensberg, the lovely landscape becomes rougher and here you can do beautiful hiking through magnificent terrains.

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The capitol of the province is Bloemfontein, the City of Roses, serves as something of an oasis, lying as it does plum in the middle of the Free State and indeed the country. The only major city for miles around, it is also the sixth largest city in the country, the Judicial Capital of South Africa, and it lies on the N1 between Johannesburg and Cape Town, often functioning as a stop off to break the major journey between the two cities.

Despite being situated in an area of dry grassland, Bloemfontein more than lives up to its name - spring of flowers. Thousands of rose bushes line the city; more than 4000 rose trees have been planted in the rose gardens in Kings Park, and many homes, still minus the ubiquitous six metre wall of other major cities in South Africa, boast colourful gardens littered with flowering plants and trees.

Bloemies, as the locals fondly call her it, is a city of little stress and very few residents buy into the rush, rush syndrome typical of a major city.


Sentinel Hiking Trail

The Sentinel Hiking Trail is a magnificent trail that leads onto the top of the Drakensberg plateau. This route of 10 km is on the border between Free State and KwaZulu-Natal and offers great views and adventure in the Drakensberg. It is here where the snow falls in winter and makes for the most exquisite scenery.

You can visit spectacular places like the Devil's Tooth, the Maluti mountains, Mount-aux-Sources and Mahai Waterfall.

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

The Golden Gate Highlands National Park is nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains in the northern Free Sate and it is one of the real highlights of this province.

Golden Gate derives its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the region's imposing sandstone cliffs. The landscape also encompasses wooded ravines, gullies and grasslands.

The main attractions of the Golden Gate National Park are the massive, colourful sandstone formations, which shine golden-yellow in the evening sun, and from which the area takes its name. The vegetation in the Golden Gate nature reserve consists mainly of indigenous grassland. Long hiking paths lead through the quiet mountain world.

This is true highlands habitat, home to a variety of mammals - black wildebeest, eland, blesbok, oribi, springbok and Burchell's zebra - and birds, including the rare bearded vulture (lammergeier) and the equally rare bald ibis, which breed in the ledges of the sandstone cliff.