Deep in the foothills of the Maluti Mountain Range and the heart of the scenic province of the Free State, lies the village of Clarens. This idyllic little town is known for its gorgeous surrounds, and the spectacular views from just about anywhere. Because of its unique situation, Clarens is close to major metropolis epicentres like Johannesburg, Durban and Bloemfontein (all of which are within three to four hours’ drive from Clarens). This means that it is not only a great destination for international tourists, but also the chosen retreat for locals living in the big cities and needing a weekend getaway. Lovely guest houses and holiday cottages abound so there is no shortage of accommodation in Clarens for visitors to the area.
Clarens is occupied, in part, by a community of artists and other creative folk, who draw inspiration from the spectacular landscapes around them. As a result, there are a number of art galleries in the village, which are always a treat to visit. The tranquillity, combined with this artistic ambience, makes for a really special escape and a unique vibe.
With its mild climate and the abundance of beautiful fruit trees and colourful blooms, Clarens is made even more aesthetically charming. These backdrops make the town popular amongst landscape photographers as well as those who simply appreciate the wonders of the South African outdoors.
The Maluti Mountains that loom over the village offer plenty of opportunities for adventure and escape. There are a number of trails through the range, which are ideal for walking, hiking and off-road cycling. Those with 4 x 4 vehicles will have plenty of opportunities to explore the rugged rocky tracks and put their driving skills to the test. Some service providers also offer once-in-a-lifetime horse rides through the mountainous terrain.
The cave walls and mountain faces are fascinating to explore. These mountains were once the home of hunter-gatherer tribes that lives entirely off the produce of the earth, both fauna and flora. Some of the hiking trails take travellers past many of these ancient remnants of this age-old society. Going on a tour with an experienced guide adds much value to these drawings, as the history and people come alive in the inky remains.
In addition to the mountains, the local waters have earned their acclaimed title of being some of the richest in the country in terms of trout fishing. In fact, fly fishing in general is a popular local pastime. Fisherman from far afield descend on the little village just to indulge in some relaxing time on the banks or in the waters.
These waters invite adrenalin junkies to get their hearts racing as they go white water rafting too. This is great for corporate groups, families and friends that want to enjoy this exciting adventure together.
Other local attractions in and around Clarens include:
- The Golden Gate Highlands National Park
- The Clarens Museum
- Mushroom rock
- Surrender Hill
- Titanic Rock
- Dinosaur Trails
- The Fertility Caves