Surrounded by the beautiful Maluti mountains and eye catching rock formations like the ‘Titanic Rock’, it would be impossible for passers-by not to pop in and for visitors not to fall in love with this beautiful small town. A place not only city dwellers escape to, but also where adventure, nature and hiking lovers can find a sanctuary away from the city’s hustle and bustle. Clarens is fast becoming a go to Town for all South Africans especially Gauteng(ers), with fine arts and stunning weather all year round being its most admirable characteristics. In the past two years alone the growth in tourists has been tremendous. Below are a few reasons why you should make your way to Clarens too:
The People and Food
Clarens can be located somewhere below the Maluti mountains, and the indigenous group in the area is the BaSotho people. You will get to learn about the BaSotho heritage at the BaSotho Cultural Village which is found just a few Kilometers from town. At the Cultural Village you will get an opportunity to sample the local dishes. The biggest secret about food in small town is that it’s mostly home made. Who doesn’t love a home made cottage pie, lamb curry and some delicacies from the deli and the bakery? Because of the type of visitors Clarens welcome every month of the year, there is food for everyone at the restaurants.
From afar a beautiful display of mountain ranges that go as far as connecting the Free State to the mighty Lesotho Mountains, draws you in; leaving no room for resistance. This is one of the most exquisite features of this small town, which has led to an annual migration of people from different cities to come experience this beauty. A lot of visitors enjoy traversing on these mountains – sleeping in caves, while others enjoy day visits and trying different trails.
Art lovers from all over the globe flock into Clarens for a good time at the beautiful quaint art galleries lining its small streets. There are over 10 art galleries in Clarens that are owned by different nationals who have since made Clarens their home. These cater for different types of art lovers as they have a lot to offer, you get contemporary, fine and fusion art galleries. Set a day aside for gallery hopping, you might just come back a different person. I also picked up a different form of art that I am now exploring.
You would think a small Town like Clarens would struggle to pull in crowds, however, it’s actually the opposite of that. This small town sure knows how to cater to its visitors, there are concerts and festivals suited for each season. The Cherry Festival is the pride of the people of Free State. Though it is held just outside of Clarens, a lot of people choose to be based in Clarens. Other annual crowd pullers are the Wine and Beer festivals. The beer fest showcasing over 50 craft beers is held in February, while the ‘Pinotage of Tap’ wine festival is the final festival of the year, as it happens in November. The trick is to mark the dates as soon as they are released to secure your accommodation well in advance.
Like a Child in a candy store, no matter which side you decide to look at, all you will be thinking of is how fast can you get to those mountains and find out what are they made of. There has never been a time where I have visited this mountainous small town, that I have not hiked. In fact that would be a gross crime and insult to humanity if one would do that 😀. Waking up at the crack of dawn to catch the sunrise is one of the exciting things to do in Clarens. There are a number of trails to choose from.
The Adrenalin Fix
Not even in my wildest dreams would I have thought of Clarens as an adventure town. It is not often that you find such a small town, loaded with so many activities. There is quite a variety of activities to choose from. You can go from White River rafting in the Ash River (one of the best in the country), zip lining and quad biking at Clarens Xtreme Adventure Company. Booking is essential if you want to engage in any of the activities.
Hot Air Ballooning
Who would not sacrifice their beauty sleep if it means enjoying one of the best views in the country. I might be exaggerating but I know a few will agree with me when I say nothing beats looking at amazing mountain ranges from the sky. That view is just magical, you don’t want to hear it from other people, go and experience it yourself.
Horse Back Riding
With these beautiful Maluti mountain ranges, morning or sunset rides become mandatory. Imagine a scene on a wild – wild west movie, a horse galloping into the mountains and fading into the sunset. If you have not tried it, having to experience it in Clarens would be one of your greatest achievements. A great conversation starter that comes with a tag of being the envy of the group you are with.
There is no better time to visit Clarens, you can just time your trip to tie up with either the hiking season, the festivals or just the conducive time to get lost in all those activities. I hope you enjoy it #khenkethamzansi
Fun Facts About Clarens
- This little town is nicknamed the “jewel of the Free State”.
- It was established in 1912 and named after the town of Clarens in Switzerland where exiled Paul Kruger spent his last days.
- Clarens covers an area of 12,68 square kilometers, with an estimated population of about 751 people.
- Clarens has one of the cutest books stores in the country – the Bibliophile.