Free State DestinationsBothaville, Lejweleputswa
Bothaville, which is but two hours' from Johannesburg, lies in the midst of what is known as the Maize Triangle, surrounded by huge farmlands ripe with ears of corn, depending on the season in which one ventures forth. And if it isn't corn, then it's sunflowers, wheat, sheep or ground nuts.
In a nutshell, Bothaville is one of the major centres of agriculture in the northern reaches of the Free State, and the town hosts one of the largest agricultural annual festivals in the world - NAMPO - and the annual Food and Witblits Festival. Bothaville's emphasis on maize and sunflowers also made it the most likely candidate for the first ethanol plant in the country. Following the government's White Paper banning the production of fuel ethanol from maize, the facility developed a new process of extracting biofuel through cellulosic conversion of a perennial grass - a non-food, renewable source.
This pilot plant and project, developed by Grasoline, claims no damage to the environment, although the grass, regarded as an invasive species in the US - where it now consumes over 300 000 hectares of land in the Mississippi delta - questionably grows on land formerly used for growing food crops.
Bothaville lies on the banks of the Vals River and is, on the whole, a peaceful little town given to displays of warm welcome from its inhabitants, whose generous form of hospitality is typical of the region. It's a town in which to kick back, relax and do little other than fish, swim and sail the odd boat. There are a few historical buildings of note worth visiting too, such as the oldest building a small three-room sandstone affair that originally served as the town's police station, in President Street built.