The Thabo Mofutsanyana Region, Free State

Resting between the Orange River in the south and the Vaal River in the north, the Thabo Mofutsanyana (Eatern Free State) boasts a rugged and mountainous area in the east that is completely contrary to the Free State image of endless maize fields and dry, blue skies.

Did you know? Thabo Mofutsanyana, the Eastern Free State, is undoubtedly the core of the province, encapsulating the essence of its diversity.

It is here that the Maluti Mountains meet those of the Drakensberg to form a rugged sandstone backdrop to an area that contains: charming towns, despite the distance between them that include Clarens; undulating hills, battle sites, first rate fly fishing, the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, and the annual Ficksburg cherry festival.

Resting between the Orange River in the south and the Vaal River in the north, the Eatern Free State (Thabo Mofutsanyana) boasts a rugged and mountainous area in the east that is completely contrary to the Free State image of endless maize fields and dry, blue skies. These served the Basotho people (people of the peaks) who used the caves and slopes of the Maluti Mountains as hideaways and a means of defence in years gone by.

Did you know? Once you've booked your hotel or Thabo Mofutsanyana accommodation, explore the town and destination pages below for info on attractions, activities and things to do when you explore this Free State region.

The valleys, by contrast, are densely vegetated, through which hiking trails effortlessly provide one with breathtaking scenery, including the Korannaberg hiking Trail at Excelsior.

The Golden Gate National Park, the Free State’s only national park, lies in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains, close to Clarens.

Did you know? The Qwa-Qwa National Park, which merged with Golden Gate Highlands national park, includes the Basotho cultural village and other historical highlights such as the Van Reenen family graveyard.

Some twenty seven farms near Fouriesburg claim instances of Bushman rock art, Tweespruit boasts the Claerhout Art Gallery, Bethlehem, the commercial centre of Thabo Mofutsanyana is also home to the Wolhuterskop Nature Reserve, and November is the time to visit Ficksburg for the famous cherry festival. How much more persuasion does one need?.


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Destinations in the Thabo Mofutsanyana Region

Bethlehem

Overnight? Bethlehem accommodation
Despite being a pivotal town of the Free State, Bethlehem has remained largely obscure - too large to make it in to the popular 'village society' of Ficksburg, Fouriesburg, Clarens and Rosendal, yet not quite big enough to compete with the likes of Bloemf...

Clarens

Overnight? Clarens accommodation
The village of Clarens lies at the foot of Mount Horeb, on the Free State Highlands Route close to the Golden Gate National Park. One of the most popular holiday towns in the eastern Free State, its location inspires not only its own residents but everyon...

Clocolan

Overnight? Clocolan accommodation
The town of Clocolan is situated along the R26 about 34 kilometres from Ficksburg in the North-east and 37 kilometres from Ladybrand to the South. Clocolan is perched on grassland at the foot of the Hlohlowane Mountain from which Clocolan derives its ...

Ficksburg

Overnight? Ficksburg accommodation
Ficksburg is situated in the Eastern Free State between the Maluti Mountains. Ficksburg is the closest town to the Lesotho border. This small village is not only a busy trading town - but is well known for it's scenic game farms. The annual Cherry Fes...

Fouriesburg

Overnight? Fouriesburg accommodation
Surrounded by the glorious Maluti Mountains, the little town of Fouriesburg lies just 10 kilometres from the Lesotho Border in arguably one of the most beautiful corners of South Africa; the ‘little Caledon’ River flowing gently past the town and close to...

Harrismith

Overnight? Harrismith accommodation
A rather charming example of a typical Free State town, Harrismith is probably best known by South Africans as the ‘halfway house’ - half way, that is, between Durban and Johannesburg. For years it has served as the midway stop to tank up both on fuel and...

Kestell

Overnight? Kestell accommodation
While Kestell may be a very small village nestled within the foothills of the mountains of the Free State, it boasts an interesting history and breath-taking landscapes. It was initially established in 1905 on two farms, but has since grown to be a little...

Ladybrand

Overnight? Ladybrand accommodation
The pretty town of Ladybrand, sometimes spoken of as a sleepy border town, is surrounded by the undulating hills of the eastern Free State, almost midway between the towns of Hobhouse and Ficksburg virtually on the edge of the border with Lesotho. For thi...

Marquad

With a total area of less than 10 square kilometres, Marquard is a small town that is known for the excellent condition in which it is kept and for its value in terms of agri-tourism. It is situated in the South African province of the Free State, where v...

Memel

The other Memel is a town and river based in Lithuania, from which the South African town of Memel in the Eastern Free State derives its name - the Prussian 'memel' means 'surrounded by water' and refers in no small way to the Seekoeivlei wetlands in and ...

Phuthaditjhaba

Overnight? Phuthaditjhaba accommodation
Phuthaditjhaba is a Sotho town in the province of the Free State. Flanked by the drama of the Drakensberg Mountains and the Maluti Mountains, Phuthaditjhaba is nestled within a part of the Drakensberg, giving the vistas around it a special kind of wonder ...

Reitz

Overnight? Reitz accommodation
Lying almost halfway between Bethlehem and Frankfort on Route 26 in the Free State, Reitz is described as a peaceful village. Despite its apparent isolation, it lies only two hours' drive from Johannesburg and has thus made it on to Gautengers' weekend ge...

Rosendal

Overnight? Rosendal accommodation
The little farming town of Rosendal lies 43 kilometres north of Ficksburg in a valley surrounded by the Witteberge - part of the Drakensberg range of mountains. It used to be that Rosendal was little more than a 'dorpie' through which to drive in the east...

Senekal

Overnight? Senekal accommodation
Take Route 70 (also known as the N5) through Senekal and some of what you notice are the wide streets, blue skies (when the sun shines) and lovely period cottages, few of which have yet adopted the security walls so prevalent in our cities. The centre ...

Sterkfontein

Overnight? Sterkfontein accommodation
Rugged, steep krantzes silhouetted against the skyline, mountain slopes snugly covered with a grass blanket, deep lushly vegetated kloofs and a crystal-clear lake are facets of the beauty of the Sterkfontein Dam Reserve which covers 18000 Ha. Oribi, Mo...

Swinburne

Overnight? Swinburne accommodation
If you have travelled the road between Johannesburg and Durban by bus at any stage in South Africa you will most likely have stopped at Swinburne, whether or not you were aware that it was actually Swinburne. Until later in life, I thought Swinburne was a...

Van Reenen

Overnight? Van Reenen accommodation
Van Reenen’s Pass, a sweeping pass renowned for its slippery and precarious roads (particularly as a result of the frequent misty conditions), and some of the most gorgeous views, is the main route through the Drakensberg Mountains connecting Jo-burg and ...

Verkykerskop

Although it has been described as a 'small scale agricultural town' Verkykerskop, on the R722 north of Harrismith in the Free State, is more akin to an intentional community. The little green living village lies within a 700 hectare working farm and conse...

Vrede

Overnight? Vrede accommodation
The pretty little town of Vrede lies in what is described as the 'spine' of the Drakensberg, surrounded by rolling hills covered in highveld grasses, and home to a particularly striking sandstone church. Situated just off the N3 north east of Harrismith a...

Warden

Overnight? Warden accommodation
The N3 passes right through Warden on the route between Johannesburg and Durban, just north of Harrismith. It is thus more-often-than-not used as a hallmark stop to fill up with petrol, and a burger and chips at the one-stop shop. However, Warden is a ...

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