Free State in South Africa

Between the Vaal River to the north and the Gariep (Orange) River to the south lies an undulating plateau and sparsely populated prairie land known as Free State. In the latter half of the 19th century the region was an independent Boer Republic governed by the Voortrekkers who had left the British Cape Colony in the 1830s.

During this brief period of independence, Bloemfontein developed into a fine modern capital with many grand sandstone buildings. But the discovery of diamonds at Jagersfontein and Kimberley, along with gold in the second independent Boer Republic of the time, led to the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War on 11 October 1899, a fact that has left its mark on the province.

While there is not much to see in the arid farmlands to the west of Bloemfontein, the Maluti Mountains in the eastern Free State hold many surprises. The scenery is spectacular as it rises to meet the lands of Lesotho, scattered with dams, mountain rivers and nature reserves, and connected by pretty rural villages with a wide range of accommodation choices and activities. At the centre of this area lies the spectacular Golden Gate Highlands National Park, where, even during the summer months, the hills can sometimes be covered with snow.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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