Free State Tourist AttractionsThe Xhariep Region
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, 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.
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.
Popular Towns in the Xhariep Region
Overnight? Accommodation in Bethulie
Bethulie, or the town of many names - from the time of its founding in 1872 it has been called Caledon, Verhuellpolis, Heidelberg and Bethulie - may lie off the beaten track and barely defie the definition of 'rustic', but it is also full of...
More information and photographs: Bethulie Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Edenburg
Edenburg, like its more southerly neighbour Trompsberg, lies alongside the N1 highway roughly 83 kilometres south west of Bloemfontein. Yet the average traveller using the freeway has never heard of it. The N1 travels through few towns...
More information and photographs: Edenburg Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Fauresmith
Fauresmith lies in what is known as the False Karoo in the southern part of the Free State, a little town that serves as a centre for the local lucerne and potato farming community, and apparently one of only two towns in the world (the other...
More information and photographs: Fauresmith Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Gariep Dam
South Africa’s largest water storage reservoir, the Gariep Dam, is placed on the Orange River between the Northern Cape and the Free State just 30 kilometres east of Colesberg. Apart from serving an important function - supplying water...
More information and photographs: Gariep Dam Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Jacobsdal
Jacobsdal was a farm called Kalkfontein until the mid-1800’s, when Christoffel Jacobs established it as a tiny town. Today, it remains a small farming community, just 154 kilometres outside of Bloemfontein in the Free State, but its history...
More information and photographs: Jacobsdal Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Jagersfontein
Jagersfontein lies 115 km south west of Bloemfontein, nearest stop: Koffiefontein. It is one of very few places in the world with a big hole open diamond mine. In 2005 the media considered Jagersfontein 'forgotten in history'. Today...
More information and photographs: Jagersfontein Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Koffiefontein
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...
More information and photographs: Koffiefontein Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Petrusburg
Petrusburg lies on the N8 between Bloemfontein and Kimberley, and is connected to Koffiefontein by the R48 - another little farming town in the Letsemeng of the south-western Free State. Suffice to say that most of this area makes its...
More information and photographs: Petrusburg Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Rouxville
Despite outward appearances, Rouxville, which lies in the southern most reaches of the Free State roughly 170 kilometres south of Bloemfontein, is more than a wee farming village with a petrol station, a bottle store and a shop or two...
More information and photographs: Rouxville Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Smithfield
In the midst of savanna country, on the national road that finally culminates in Port Elizabeth, lies the little Free State town of Smithfield - the third oldest town in the province, just 132 kilometres southeast of Bloemfontein...
More information and photographs: Smithfield Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Springfontein
Despite the fact that the little farming community today suffers from something of an inferiority complex and isn’t exactly ‘on the tourist map’ so to speak, it used to serve as an important railway junction between Gauteng and the Eastern...
More information and photographs: Springfontein Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Trompsburg
The little town of Trompsburg dates back to the 19th century, having been established on the Middelwater Farm in 1891 and declared a municipality in 1902. This is a veritable “dorpie”- a small farming town in the heart of the South African...
More information and photographs: Trompsburg Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Zastron
The scenery is dominated by beautiful mountains and the town itself lies at the foot of Aasvoëlberg (vulture hill), named such because it is home to the only Cape Vulture colony in the Free State. Zastron is also where you can see the Eye of...
More information and photographs: Zastron Information