Free State DestinationsPhilippolis, Xhariep Region
Virtually smack bang in the middle of South Africa lies the little historical town of Philippolis, renowned for its hospitality and convivial atmosphere. It is not only considered the oldest settlement in the Free State, but Philippolis is also the birth place of Laurens Jan van der Post, renowned author, political advisor to British heads of government, and godparent to Prince William.
Philippolis initially lay right on the N1, before it was rerouted via the Gariep Dam and Springfontein, but the town, which has the highest number of national monuments in the province after Bloemfontein and Bethlehem, hasnít suffered the loss, other than to rid itself of four of the five petrol stations that dominated the town. Philippolis began as a mission station for the Khois and Bushmen in the area, neither of whom was particularly interested based on their largely nomadic existence.
The Laurens van der Post memorial garden is worth a visit, and John Varty, well known filmmaker and conservationist, has established Tiger Canyons just 25 kilometres north west of Philippolis on the Van Der Kloof Lake in the Karoo, where the tigers roam free, and you get to view them from within a caged vehicle.