Free State Tours

Packages by Region

Lejweleputswa
Lejweleputswa

The name Lejweleputswa, meaning ‘gray rock’, replaces the rather mundane former ‘Free State Goldfields’ that lacked the imagination of the African name that now describes the area in the Free State with a history rich in gold prospecting and mining. The district lies in the north western part of the Free State, bordering on North West Province in the north and the Northern Cape to the west - an area that also lies in the heart of the country’s agricultural belt, and includes two of the province’s nature reserves.

Despite a long history of prospecting for gold in the Lejweleputswa, gold wasn’t discovered until 1948, when a borehole sunk to find water instead found lava, a deep-flowing source of gold ore that led to the establishment of Welkom. As a result, this part of the world owes its existence to the consequent influx of miners and people who helped build a boom of mining towns, and a farming community that forms part of the maize triangle, the mielie growing region of the Free State.

Lejweleputswa has a beauty all its own, and the landscapes are given over to a rich combination of golden crop plains, rolling hills and distant sandstone mountains, the skies a constant hazy blue, from which even the crisp winters cannot detract. Gold mines in the Free State also supply a large percentage of the silver that the country produces, and Lejweleputswa, whilst definitely the place to experience underground mine tours, offers far more variety than one initially thinks. If the Goldfields Wine Cellar in Theunissen, Winnie Mandela House in Majwemasoeu, Brandfort, and the Aco tractor factory near Hoopstad are anything to go by, then Lejweleputswa is filled with hidden gems.

Lejweleputswa
Lesotho

Lesotho offers natural beauty, rugged terrain, and rich local culture and traditions, and a scarcity of civilization's trappings, such as landlords and fences, provides a permit-free playground for the more intrepid adventurers.

Accommodation can be found in all the regions of Lesotho, some calmly situated on river banks, some on mountain sides, and some at the highest altitude in Southern Africa. A visitor to Lesotho can choose to stay in a bed and breakfast or hotel in a town or the capital, Maseru, or choose to be spoiled by nature and find chalet or self-catering accommodation deep in the highlands of Lesotho, totally surrounded by beautiful mountains and a peaceful environment.

With all its land lying at altitudes in excess of 1500m above sea-level; Lesotho is a land of heights and extremes. Lesotho offers breathtaking mountain vistas and adventure activities such as skiing, pony trekking, hiking and abseiling for the intrepid traveller. More leisurely pursuits for those seeking a relaxing and revitalising break include birdwatching, boating and fishing.

Lesotho's history can be explored at leisure with visits to San rock art, dinosaur footprints and cultural villages where the rich local culture of the Basotho people can be experienced.

Lejweleputswa
Motheo

Officially, Motheo is one of the five districts of the Free State in South Africa. The term ‘Motheo’ comes from the Sesotho for “foundation” or “cornerstone” and was consciously chosen to represent the heartbeat of the province, regarded as an area of entrepreneurial and investment opportunities and the centre of the economic and industrial development of the Free State.

The three municipalities of Mangaung, Mantsopa and Naledi fall within Motheo and include the city of Bloemfontein and other towns like Ladybrand, Hobhouse, Tweespruit, Wepener, Dewetsdorp, Thaba Phatswa. Motheo incorporates the highlands of the Maluti Route, the R26, which winds through Naledi, and the township of Botshabelo, 55 kilometres from Bloemfontein - the largest township in the province and the second largest in the country after Soweto.

Bloemfontein in Motheo Region, Free State
Bloemfontein is without doubt the main attraction of Motheo. Marketed as an “outdoor mecca” by the city’s tourism, Bloemfontein is filled with history and myriad outdoor activities. From President Brand Street in the middle of town where the statue of President Brand stands in front of the National Afrikaans Literature Museum, along a street lined with stone building that date back to the 1800s, to the Botanical Gardens and Oliewenhuis Museum, there is plenty to do in the city.

The other attraction included in Motheo, 60 kilometres east of Bloemfontein, is Thaba ‘Nchu, a town established as early as 1873 that was granted independence in 1979 and then reincorporated in 1994, but not before it become the site of a casino complex - one of the main reasons that Bloemfontein residents regularly visit the largely Tswana and Sotho dominated town.

Lejweleputswa
Northern Free State

The Northern Free State is at once rural and far enough from the major tourist routes to offer a hint of true ‘platteland’ living to newcomers and locals alike. It is not only the most accessible part of the Free State to Gauteng - it lies not even an hour from OR Tambo International Airport - but this rustic area is also rich in water, and manages to whirl together a rich collection of activities and weekend getaways that make it attractive to both those travelling through, and others wanting a break from it all.

During summer this area, which produces a high share of the country’s maize, bursts into an array of sunflowers, fields of mealies and wheat, interspersed with the vivid pinks of cosmos that transforms the countryside into a tapestry of gold. The Northern Free State includes a collection of typical little towns - with names like Kroonstad, Frankfort and Heilbron - that silently bear tribute to a rich history in the form of characteristic sandstone buildings, and a collection of historical sites that relate to the Boer Wars, some of which are national monuments.

The Vaal Dam and river provide effortless water play time from riding the white waters in a raft or canoe, to leisurely sailing the waters of the dam on a yacht. In an arc to the north and west of Vredefort and Parys, lies a ring of hills known as the Vredefort Dome, South Africa’s seventh World Heritage Site, recognised as the largest and oldest meteorite impact site in the world. Hike in the rugged mountains surrounding the dome, view untouched San paintings, and abseil or rock climb in the area.

Lejweleputswa
Thabo Mofutsanyane

Thabo Mofutsanyana, the Eastern Free State, is undoubtedly the core of the province, encapsulating the essence of its diversity. It is here that the Maluti Mountains meet those of the Drakensberg to form a rugged sandstone backdrop to an area that contains: charming towns, despite the distance between them that include Clarens; undulating hills, battle sites, first rate fly fishing, the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, and the annual Ficksburg cherry festival.

Resting between the Orange River in the south and the Vaal River in the north, the Eatern Free State (Thabo Mofutsanyana) boasts a rugged and mountainous area in the east that is completely contrary to the Free State image of endless maize fields and dry, blue skies. These served the Basotho people (people of the peaks) who used the caves and slopes of the Maluti Mountains as hideaways and a means of defence in years gone by.

Eastern Free State
The valleys, by contrast, are densely vegetated, through which hiking trails effortlessly provide one with breathtaking scenery, including the Korannaberg hiking Trail at Excelsior. The Golden Gate National Park, the Free State’s only national park, lies in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains, close to Clarens. The Qwa-Qwa National Park, which merged with Golden Gate Highlands national park, includes the Basotho cultural village and other historical highlights such as the Van Reenen family graveyard.

Some twenty seven farms near Fouriesburg claim instances of Bushman rock art, Tweespruit boasts the Claerhout Art Gallery, Bethlehem, the commercial centre of Thabo Mofutsanyana is also home to the Wolhuterskop Nature Reserve, and November is the time to visit Ficksburg for the famous cherry festival. How much more persuasion does one need?

Lejweleputswa
Other Regions

Lying in the south western Free State, the Xhariep Region, named after the !Gariep Dam, is typically dry and probably the region most likely to fulfil the picture held by many of the Free State as a place of endless space, vast tracts of sheep and cattle farmland, a generous dollop of tranquillity, and a part of the world known to few.

A mere 129 000 odd people live in Xhariep, a region regarded in the past as the country’s backwater. But now, as the need by tourists to venture into authentic territory away from the country’s over visited and generally overextended hot spots, grows, this region is unhurriedly being ‘discovered’. The !Gariep Dam, lying in the southernmost part of the region, and regarded as the Karoo heartland, is the largest expanse of fresh water in the country. It lies on the Orange River, one of the country’s largest rivers, its shoreline extending some 435 kilometres near the towns of Bethulie, Venterstad, Colesberg, Oviston and Aliwal North.

Xhariep Region, Free State
Rouxville, one of the lesser known towns in the Xhariep, now forms part of the Maloti Route that claims the status of the longest signed tourism route in Southern Africa spanning over parts of Lesotho, the Eastern Cape and Xhariep. Similarly, together with Smithfield, Rouxville forms part of the Friendly N6 route, another long route that extends from Bloemfontein in the north to East London in the south, covering over 600 kilometres and spanning two provinces.

Other highlights of the Xhariep region include the chance to visit open mine museums, the Laurens van der Post Memorial at Philippolis, the ‘Eye’ of Zastron - a hole in a sandstone ridge on the hill at Zastron, and the Landzicht wine cellar at Jacobsdal.