Free State DestinationsKoffiefontein, Xhariep Region
The first thing that strikes you about the Karoo is the huge distances between towns. The Grassy Karoo, also known as the 'false Karoo', is the eastern part, which, as its name suggests, is fundamentally grasslands that stretch from Jacobsdal to Somerset East. Despite the grass, hardy fragrant shrubs manage to make their presence known, and historic little towns pepper a landscape dominated by grass and distant mountains.
Koffiefontein, which lies in this region, is situated where the R48 meets the R704 on the Riet River, north east of the little town of Trompsburg. Just as you drive into the town one is faced with a rather idiocyncratic looking coffee can fountain, complete with cup and saucer, which may or may not work, depending on some unexplicable whim. When it does, it's rather charming.
The town, which started out as a coffee stop for transport riders, still has little eateries and shops with names like 'Try-itsi' - a great place to stock up on different sorts of snacks if you're on the road somewhere - and 'Kos Kaia' (food dwelling), which apparently serves heavenly pancakes. But what Koffiefontein is really about, and what makes it so attractive to visitors, is the incredible Karoo Free State hospitality; a real willingness to share their place with you, and the sense that they really love the place.
Ettienne Leroux, who also used the nom de plume of Stephanus Petrus Daniel le Roux and wrote 'Magersfontein, O Magersfontein!' that created such a stir it was banned a year after publication, had a farm in Koffiefontein, which you can see as you drive into the town close to where you swing off the road towards Jacobsdal. Today the farm belongs to a farmer called Schreuder, according to the board on the road.