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"The Free State landscape gladdens my heart, no matter what my mood. When I am here I feel that nothing can shut me in; that my thoughts can roam as free as the horizons." - Nelson Mandela
With its gold-stained mountains, endless open fields, winding rivers, and peculiar little spots, Clarens is nothing short of a sanctuary for those requiring a peaceful escape from their hectic daily lifestyles. Widely considered an artist's town due to its 20 art galleries, Clarens is culturally rich and a great basis from which to explore breathtaking scenery on foot. Whether you're a water sports enthusiast or an avid hiker, or simply get a kick out of discovering hideaway spots for purchasing quirky bric-a-brac, Clarens fails to disappoint. If you're still not convinced on what Clarens has to offer, here's why we think you should head out to this haven:
1. Go horse riding or clay pidgeon shooting at Bokpoort Cowboy Ranch:
Established in 1865, Bokpoort is a family farm which is run by the Roos family, with Christo being the fourth descendant. Bokspoort offers many attractive pursuits, one of which being horse riding. Explore the Golden Gate Highlands, a major natural attraction in Clarens, on horse back. You can opt for one of many packages offered by Bokspoort, whether it be a two hour sundowner ride, or an entire day out, which includes a light meal. They also have a shooting range with various options for a fun activity. These vary, from target shooting, to clay pidgeon shooting and archery. If you're not the greatest aimer, perhaps you might consider the mountain bike, hiking and running trails. Bokspoort also hosts a highly anticipated annual family-friendly shooting competition. Have a look at this video for a better idea of what's in store.
For more information, have a look at their website.
2. Visit the Art and Wine Gallery on Main:
Whether you're an ardent art or wine enthusiast, Art and Wine ensures that you don't have to choose. Founded by Anton Grobbelaar, the gallery exhibits a wide range of the finest wines and most exquisite artworks from established artists. Occupying an impressive 439 square meters with panoramic mountain views and situated in the Main street of Clarens, Art and Wine houses works by the likes of Gregoire Boonzaier, Aviva Maree, J.H. Pierneef and Conrad Theys, ceramics by Laura Du Toit, sculpture by Louis Chanu and Jean Doyle, and glass by David Reade and Shirley Cloete, amongst many others. Coupled with some of the best wines that the Cape has to offer, what is not to love?
For more on Art and Wine, view their website.
3. Learn about the culture of the South Sotho at the Basotho Cultural Village:
Nestled in the heart of the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, the Basotho Cultural Village is the embodiment of a primitive and simple life. Here, the life of the South Sotho is encapsulated by means of the architecture and lifestyle, carried through from the early sixteenth century through to the rich and colourful present. Experience a guided tour by stepping into the "khotla," the gathering place of men. An offering of hospitality is made with the giving of Sotho beer and a game of "marabaraba." Consult the traditional healer and drink in his knowledge, then step into the home of one of the three wives as they grind and sift maize and beer. Listen to fables and folklore, and observe the dramatic and vibrant interior and exterior decorations of the huts, created by the Basotho women.
Read further here.
4. Quench your thirst and learn the art of distillery at Clarens Brewery:
Situated in the foothills of the Maluthi Mountains, Clarens Brewery is one of the country's first Brew-Pub, Cidery and Distillery. Their brewer, Stephan Meyer, is a keen beer drinker and, upon a visit to the UK in the early '90s, came across a mind-blowing diversity of brews and could not wait to start brewing his own beer shortly thereafter. The rest is history. From the biscuity and malty aroma of the Blonde Ale to the subtle chocolate aroma of the stout, there is a beer for everyone. If beer is too queer for you, rest assured, Clarens Brewery offers gin and cider tastings too. They also have a delicious food menu, should you get hungry.
Find out more about Clarens Brewery here.
5. Get your adrenalin rush with Clarens Xtreme:
If you're an extremist or simply just love a thrilling adventure, consider paying Clarens Xtreme a visit. They offer a wide variety of activites, ranging from white water rafting, paintballing, abseiling, quad biking and wall climbing, amongst many others! If you want to test your ability and enjoy activites which require quick and strategic thinking, all the while having an absolute blast of a time, then look no further. They've got your covered! As their motto goes, "work hard, play harder." Visit their website for more on what they offer.
6. Satisfy those hunger pangs at one of these highly recommended restaurants:
Gosto Portuguese restaurant: with fantastic service, amazing food, a cosy fireplace for those colder evenings and good background music, Gosto offers an all-round welcoming experience for diners.
Vito's Ristorante: for a scrumptious Italian dinner with mountain views, Vito's is the place to be. Although it appears as a fish and chips cafe on the exterior, a rustic and ambient atmosphere await you as you enter. The variety of sauces available to accompany your meal is especially revered, and the restaurant boasts the Certiicate of Excellence 2018 award. They are also vegetarian-friendly and have a number of vegan dishes on their menu.
Friends: sporting a fireplace, a big screen for those game nights and a live band on select others, Friends is affordable and their meal sizes generous. They are well-known for their burgers and a popular spot for the locals. With a typical pub vibe, this is where locals go to have a good time in the evenings.
Clementines: for a more fine dining experience, head to Clementines, the most exclusive restaurant and bar in Clarens. With upmarket country dining and unique ambience, Clementines is enchanting and will make you want to return again. It also has gift shops nearby, should you want to explore whilst waiting on your food. Their service is excellent, and their oxtail and camembert steaks come highly recommended. Sporting the Certificate of Excellence Award for 2015-2018, it is no wonder that Clementines is the number one diner in Clarens.
Highland Coffee Roastery: do yourself a favour and visit this coffee roastery, shop and espresso bar. With their micro-roastery roasting 100% Arabica coffee beans to perfection, sip and mull over a freshly ground cuppa as you admire the phenomenal view of Mount Horeb. Read more here.
With so much to choose from, you will never run out of things to see or do. Clarens truly is the jewel of the Free State, with it's astounding awe-inspiring natural beauty and a suprisingly long list of things to keep you busy, there is something for everyone!
View these incredible Clarens accommodation deals below:
Two night self-catering stay for two at Gypsy Guest House.
Two night stay for two at Patcham Place.
Author: Jamy-Lee Mansfield