Clarens, Free State, South Africa

Clarens, Free State, South Africa.

Situated in the green and mountainous Eastern Free State, this lovely town, close to the Lesotho border, is an absolute gem. Filled with Victorian-style houses built from local sandstone, it has become a bit of an artists' retreat over the years.

The entrance of Clarens is guarded by 'The Titanic', a colossal rock formation in the shape of the doomed ship. Clarens is also part of the scenic Highlands Route and is surrounded by mountainous splendour. Surrounding the village is the Rooiberge, whilst further on is the mighty Maluti.

Clarens has many trees, from the light green Willows to the autumn shades of the Lowland Poplars. Artists, photographers and nature lovers all flock to Clarens to admire this magnificent sight.

As well as the expected craft shops, restaurants and coffee houses, there are a number of dedicated galleries, studios and craft shops selling pottery, paintings, woodcarvings, weavings and curios. But it's not all art and culture at Clarens.

The town is close to the scenically mountainous Golden Gate Highlands National Park with its miles of hiking trails, streams, dramatic golden concave cliffs and abundant high altitude game.

There are trout-stocked streams and the surrounding hills are filled with caves, overhangs and shelters which house a large percentage of the known rock art in South Africa. Other attractions of the wider area of Clarens include some wonderful trails and ancient rock art sites.

Clarens is in the Eastern Free State, close to the Lesotho border. It is about 120km from Harrismith, on the N3, and is reached by taking the N5 towards Bloemfontein and turning left at Bethlehem after about 80km. The closest airport is about 250km away in Bloemfontein.