Parys, Northern Free State
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The little country town of Parys lies on the southern banks of the Vaal River about an hour’s drive from Johannesburg. Disputably named after its European counterpart on the banks of the Seine, what makes Parys interesting to visit is that it is situated within the Vredefort Dome Area - the place of the oldest and largest meteorite impact site in the world.
Parys is essentially a farming community - tobacco, corn, sorghum and cattle are all farmed in the vicinity - but it has also become a popular town to visit, particularly because of its proximity to Johannesburg. Where the Vaal River meets the town, it stretches for about a kilometre, its shores lined with weeping willows and an invitation to those fond of water sports. The country club, with its 9-hole golf course, lies on Golf Island, one of the islands that sprinkles the waters of the river close to Parys and accessible via a suspension bridge.
There are some lovely hiking trails in and around the town up in the hilly countryside that surrounds Parys; the town is scattered with art, antique and coffee shops, and you can do river rafting, abseiling and 4x4 routes as part of the line up of activities available to you. But it’s the geological wonders of the Vredefort Dome that are without doubt the stars of the show.
The dome lies around the towns of Parys and Vredefort - the focus of a great deal of geological and geophysical attention and about 250 kilometres across. It’s also recently been declared South Africa’s 7th World Heritage Site. The reason for the visit, if for nothing else, is the stupendous view from the top of the prominent mountains overlooking the dome bergland. The meteorite impact structure is a semi-circular ring of mountains surrounding a less rugged interior of an impact that took place some 2 000 million years ago.
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Featured Attractions in (or near) Parys
There are not many dams that can claim to be as big as Luxembourg, yet the Vaal Dam, which is also the country's largest dam by area – the Gariep Dam has the largest storage capacity – does just that. Suffice to say that Vaal Dam is big. The Vaal Dam has over 800 kilometers worth of coastline and covers over 300 square kilometres ... more information
The Vredefort dome is the oldest and largest meteorite impact site (Asrobleme) in the world. Formed an estimated 2000 million years ago when a gigantic meteorite (larger than Table Mountain) hit the earth close to where Vredefort is today. The force of the impact opened up a crater, which is still ... more information
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