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Saunter 9


Southern Free State

Dating back to 1912, Clarens is named after the Swiss town where Paul Kruger, president of the Transvaal Republic (from 1952 until 1900) was in self-exile. The village is surrounded by mountains, some, an extension of the Drakensberg, creating a beautiful setting.

There is something special about the light in this place and along with the scenery it has attracted many artists to paint here and make this their home.

Clarens is a pretty little town with a buzzy square at weekends and many characterful buildings. This “Jewel’ of the Free State is one of the best small towns in South Africa and a great place to safely stroll around to explore galleries, studios, quaint shops while sampling the excellent Clarens Craft Beer, gins and cherry liquors as nearby is a major cherry growing area. Chill at a lovely place to eat, Clementine’s, while enjoying great South African wines. Don’t miss out on Bibliophile which has been described as being ‘how all book shops should be’.

There is a lot more to Clarens than art, but we suggest you join an art class to really experience the place. Tina de Beer ‘s class is the one to join. It will give you an appreciation of what you are seeing as you stroll around as well as being a fun way to unwind and explore your own creativity. Of all the galleries and studios, we guide you to the most interesting. The area is history rich as the town sits within the valley setting of one of the worst defeats in the Boer War with the British. Signal Hill still has the bare earth which resulted from many tons of confiscated Boer ammunition being blown up.

Its history is prehistoric too as this is a dinosaur and earlier fossil rich area. A few hours with the right guide and you will be fascinated, can handle the fossils and walk alongside dinosaur footprints.

The area is great for activities as there are fantastic hikes, easy to challenging places to mountain bike, an incredibly clean river to enjoy, visit a local village of the charming Sotho people, places to explore with San Rock Art and a fertility cave which has spiritual significance for early tribes as well as many modern faiths.

A short drive from Clarens are the ancient sandstone cliffs of the Golden Gate National Reserve, made up of desert sand from 200 million years ago. They stand in amongst over 50 species of grasses. The towering cliffs are known as the ‘golden gates’ for their position which catch the rays of the setting sun in such a way as to glow. A spectacular sight.

Wonderfully preserved dinosaur eggs were found here and a museum is in progress to show them off.

The scenic 68-kilometres from Clarens to Golden Gate National Park is said to be the most incredible piece of road cycling in the country with smooth cambering, good road shoulders and minimal traffic.

The vast expanse of water which is the Sterkfontein Dam lies a few kilometers from the edge of the Drakensberg Escarpment. The cool, fresh, deep waters are a wonderful blue as no river feeds into it. It is a popular angling spot. It is the third largest dam in South Africa with sailing and other water-sports. The surrounding landscape is scenically stunning – characterized by rugged mountains, lush ravines and rolling grasslands.

The Sterkfontein Dam Reserve covers 18 000 hectares and is perfect for long walks, hiking, biking, game viewing and bird watching.

Browse This Saunter's Listings

Mile High Vineyard and Cellar

Wine tastings, sales and restaurant in the wine cellar

cat-icon The Rose House, S 325, Clarens-Fouriesburg Road, R 711, District Fouriesburg 9725

Clarens Dinosaurs

Bringing pre-history alive as you discover diosaurs and walk in their footsteps

cat-icon 1 Market Street, Clarens, South Africa

The Castle in Clarens

In a stunning setting, a world of Royalty, Fantasy and Luxury

cat-icon Bokpoort Farm, R712, Clarens, 9707

French Cottage

A luxury self catering cottage in the mountains

cat-icon 491 Villiers Street, Clarens, Free State, 9707, South Africa

Baris Monger

Artisinal, award winning goats cheese made from goat milk and nothing else

Clarens Brewery

Good range of craft beers, crafted ciders, gins and liquors

cat-icon 326 Main Street, Clarens, Free State, South Africa


Upmarket country dining

cat-icon Corner of Church Street and Van Zyl Street, Clarens, 9797, Free State

Patcham Place****

Comfortable with lovely outlooks within walking distance to Town Square.

cat-icon 30 Church St, Clarens, 9707, South Africa

Gypsy Guesthouse and Gypsy Wagons

Experience GLAMPING in real GYPSY WAGONS. A Gypsy Guesthouse too!

cat-icon 101 Malherbe Street, Clarens, Orange Free State, 9707, South Africa
cat-icon Addy Hoyle Art Gallery, Post House Corner, Main Street, Clarens, South Africa 9797
cat-icon Addy Hoyle Art Gallery, Post House Corner, 277 Main Street, Clarens, South Africa

Wild Horses Mountain Lodge*****

Exclusive accommodation and intimate wedding venue facing the breathtaking expanse of Sterkfontein Dam

cat-icon Wild Horses Lodge, Sterkfontein Dam, Harrismith South Africa 9880

Wild Horses Lodge*****

Gem of a hideaway. A place to rest and restore your spirit

cat-icon Wild Horses Lodge, Sterkfontein Dam, Harrismith South Africa 9880