Take a Drive

Clarens from above
Photo by: Damien Coulson
Clarens Mountains
Photo by: Sigal Zahavi
Clarens to Golden Gate
Photo by: Sigal Zahavi

A visit to Clarens presents the ideal opportunity to explore the unknown mountains and valleys of the Eastern Free State. On this page we gave you some ideas on what to do and see on your drive in different directions.Our suggested routes are perfect for a day's exploration - on average in an 80km radius from Clarens.

Take your family and friends on a drive and explore the beauty of our Golden Valley    

North

This route takes you in the direction of Golden Gate National park and beyond.

Turning to your right out of the main entrance to Clarens on the R712 (yes, that's the road number) you will find the sign board "Golden Gate 17km" indicating you’re on the right track. On route to the National park you will find the turn off to Bokpoort Cowboy Ranch, well known for its horse riding.

On the same route you will find Rebellie Game farm that has a graded 4x4 track - only for the experienced and brave.

Further on route to Golden Gate you will find some farm stalls to stop at and maybe grab an amazing meal or homemade delicacies - Di Bus Stop and Sugar & Cinnamon

At the Golden Gate National Park entrance you only need to fill in the entrance register - no fees required if you plan to pass on through using the main road. In the National Park there is a variety of things to do. You could go horse riding, hiking, or swim in an amazing rock pool with a waterfall cascading into it.

For those in the mood for more relaxing things to do,stop at the SAN Parks Office at the filling station/camp site, and get yourself a permit to go off the main road and go and explore the scenic drives; with places like Rooidraai, van Reenen family grave yard, Vulture restaurant and the Drakensberg view point.

Before exiting the park make sure you turn into the Basotho Cultural Village to experience the interactive living museum where you will meet the village Chief taste some home brewed beer and take an walk thru the village experiencing how the Basotho people lived from the 16th century to the modern day and time.

Basotho Village
Basotho Village
Basotho Village
Basotho Village
Basotho Village
Basotho Village
Basotho Village
Basotho Village

Photos by: Sigal Zahavi

Within a few kilometres from the exit of the Golden gate national park lays Phutaditjaba with the amazing Witsieshoek National Park known for the Sentinel and Chain ladder hike to Mount Aux Sources - a day hike on its own.

Mont Aux Source
Mont Aux Source
Mont Aux Source
Mont Aux Source

Photos by: Sigal Zahavi

Lastly on this route, the Sterkfontein Dam- well known to the fly fishermen for the Yellow fish, and now becoming more and more popular for kite boarding.

Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve
Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve
Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve
Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve

Photos by: Valerie Kneppert

East

This Route takes you to Lesotho "The Kingdom in the sky". Make your way to Fouriesburg (34km), and on the R711at Fouriesburg, turn left. Travel 8km to the CaledonsPoort border post (Open 6am-10pm).

About 4km on this road, look out for Queen Victoria rock in the distance to your left, and the sandstone Destiny Castle on your right.

At border post make sure you have your passports ready, stamp yourself out of SA drive across the Caledon River into Lesotho. Fill in a short form, get in your car, pay the toll fee at the gate and welcome to the hidden secret of Africa.

From the border post drive to the first big town Butha Buthe- all the way to the T- junction.From here you have two options to go and explore - Left and Right

Left takes you all the way up the Maluti Mountains to Afriski Mountain Resort, and right in the direction of Katse Dam.

Afriski

PASSPORTS and UNABRIDGED BIRTH CERTIFICATES FOR U18) ESSENTIAL FOR THAT OUTRIDE INTO LESOTHO FROM CLARENS

To get to Afriski from Butha Buthe is an 80km trip. Make sure your car is filled with fuel before departure.

On the route, look out for the sign to Lephofung Caves. Drive in about 800m and go on a short tour to see the amazing Bushman paintings. Further on route you will find the Moteng Pass. The view is breathtaking, especially driving down it during sunset.

 A few kilometres before Afriski you will find the Old Oxbow Lodge with the Motet River. Amazing for fly fishing in summer months.

 The last pass up to the ski and mountain resort is Mahlasela Pass taking you over at 3222m above sea level.

 At Afriski don't forget to have a meal at the highest restaurant in Africa.

Afriski
Afriski
Afriski
Afriski

Photos by: Valerie Kneppert

Katse Dam

If you decide to go to Katse Dam for the day make sure you start early be at the border post when it opens up at 6am.

From Butha Buthe T-junction take a right and drive all the way to the next town, Leribe.

At Leribe take a Left turn on the Katse dam road.

At the bottom of the Mafika Lisiu pass you will find a Police check point, ‘be friendly and smile’. On top of the pass is an amazing view point(turn in on right) @ 3090m above sea level.

Just after the top of pass you will find the Bokong Nature Reserve with breathtaking views over the Lesotho Highlands. This is one of the highest reserves in Africa known for its Afro-Alpine Wetland, make a stop here on your way back from Katse.

Follow your way down the next pass thru the town of Ha Lejone, the start of Katse dam.

After Lejone look out for the intake tower that transports water all the way to Clarens.

Next stop Katse dam wall.

Look out for the huge building with the blue roof. This is the info office where all the tours on the dam wall start.   

Tour times of the Katse dam wall are:

Monday – Friday
09:00 and 14:00

Saturdays, Sundays and Lesotho Public Holidays
09:00 and 11:00

South

This route takes you all the way from Clarens, South along the Lesotho border to our amazing neighbouring towns - Fouriesburg, Ficksburg and Clocolan.

Starting on the R711 just next to Clarens, you will find the turn off to Schaapplaats, where you could take a hike to a cave with some amazing Bushman paintings. Also on this road is the Clarens Fly fishing dam - make sure to get your permits in town.

Further along the route to Fouriesburg, look out for the following:

St Fort with Mushroom Rock on the left

Surrender Hill Boer War memorial site

Fertility Cave with Sangomas living in it

Fertility Caves
Fertility Caves
Fertility Caves
Fertility Caves

Photos by: Sigal Zahavi

Lesoba has 4x4 trails and the spectacular Queen Victoria rock

Take a drive into Fouriesburg and explore the verity of little shops, restaurants and homemade food at the Country Inn and Di Plaasstoep.

At Fouriesburg take a left turn towards Ficksburg. During cherry season (October/November) make sure to stop at Ionia Cherry Farm half way to Ficksburg, and of course don't miss out on the annual Cherry Festival. While in town, look out for the well-known Blikplek with Café Chocolat, and McKinley’s the local chocolatier.

Fouriesburg
Fouriesburg
Fouriesburg
Fouriesburg

Photos by: Damien Coulson

Next town is Clocolan, well known for its Vintage Tractor fair and Boere Kultuur Fees (February/March)

Just before Clocolan make sure to stop at the road stall for cherry products and some homemade food.

West

This route leads you to Bethlehem on the R712.

As you leave Clarens you will find the rocky outcrop on the left, known as Titanic rock. Shortly after passing through the Noupoort Nek is the game farm, which Clarens Safaris can take you on scenic game drives.

Photo by: Sigal Zahavi

Next up is the Ash River Outfall on the left - part of the Highlands Water Scheme delivering drinking water to Gauteng. 300 meters from the main road is the outfall, which is also the start of the best White Water Rafting in SA. Book a trip with Clarens Xtreme.

Ash River
Ash River
Ash River
Ash River

Photos by: Valerie Kneppert

For those looking for their favourite chain stores and Casino entertainment, Bethlehem has it all.

Bethlehem is also known for its annual air show (August) and is home to the oldest yacht club in the Free State.

One of the must stops while in the area is the Lions Rock Big Cat Sanctuary, an international project of the well known Four Paws Foundation, where they offer big cat rehabilitation and a retirement home to rescuebig cats from around the world. Pass through Bethlehem, and take the Warden Road to the right just after exiting town.