Vrede, Thabo Mofutsanyana

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 and virtually on the border with Mpumalanga, Vrede is on the main route from Johannesburg via Newcastle to the North Coast and is thus an automatic stopover - even if just for lunch (although you may well consider staying longer in this quaint town steeped in history).

André Brink, one of the country's most prominent writers, three-time recipient of South Africa's CNA Award and short-listed twice for a Booker Prize, was born in Vrede. One of his reviews describes his home town as the 'deep interior' of South Africa. Whilst Vrede may have felt like the 'deep interior' during the 1970s, today it is not only the agricultural hub of a large maize, wheat, mutton, wool, beef and dairy farming region, but it is also a perfect place to 'lay one's hat' for a time.

Here one can relax as well as participate in the myriad adventure activities the town and its surrounds cater for. Vrede, which is the Afrikaans and Dutch word for 'peace', has its own golf course, whilst the nearby Vrede Dam is a hive of water sports.

There are numerous hikes, mountain biking trails, areas for caving, abseiling and rock climbing in the area, whilst the town offers a number of activities that require little effort, such as quaint little pubs, restaurants and arts and crafts shops.

Other than the beautiful sandstone church, which without doubt warrants a visit, there is also the Burghers Memorial to fallen Boers, a garden to honour British soldiers, a Great Trek Monument erected in 1938, and the odd horse-drawn cart through the pretty main streets.

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