Clarens invites you to relax and have fun, and village life is geared towards making sure that our visitors can relax and enjoy every moment that they’re here. The Clarens Community – the people who make it all happen – are here mainly because they love living here, and this is probably why  Clarens has such a warm and friendly atmosphere.   An atmosphere which together with a scenic setting, the crisp clear air (thanks to the lack of factories), and the surrounding nature areas has attracted many artists to Clarens, and Clarens is known as one of South Africa’s best loved art centres.  Clarens is a very popular  holiday destination, and this has led many of its residents to becoming involved in the hospitality industry:  Clarens abounds with accommodation establishments, restaurants and coffee shops, and, since, the environment  invites adventure, Clarens adventure companies and professional guides have also settled here.  Shopping is another major attraction to the town – and there are many shops which specialize in crafts (some of them made in Clarens) which are not easily available elsewhere in South Africa. Many Clarens residents came to live in Clarens simply because they want to live in a beautiful, unspoilt environment, and there are also those that have come to live in Clarens because they need somewhere quiet to work. All of which adds up to a varied and vibrant community, made up of people who care about and are committed to Clarens. To get a feel of what Clarens citizens are talking about visit our Clarens News Facebook page. There can be no doubt that most of the people of Clarens are committed to the town, and this is reflected by the many individuals involved in community organizations.  These organizations  go about their business, for the most part away from the public eye, not only making sure that every Clarens citizen has access to basic needs, but also uplifting and encouraging all.  The people of Clarens are, in the main, friendly and welcoming no matter which part of Clarens you visit.   We believe that it is thanks to this community spirit that Clarens has remained  a relatively crime-free a
  Clarens made history with the implementation of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project - an ambitious (still ongoing) project  involving the transfer of water from Lesotho to the Vaal river and the ever-thirsty region of Gauteng.   Part of this project included the construction of the Trans Caledon Tunnel: an underground tunnel which carries water from Lesotho under the Maluti Mountains and under Clarens,  to a weir (known as the Ash River outfall). Less than 10k from Clarens, the Ash river outfall is well worth a visit.   Take the road to Bethlehem (R712) and look out for a tar road on the left, which takes  you to the car park where you can leave your car and wander about the site.  One can only marvel at this engineering feat as you see the water gushing out of the tunnel and into a series of weirs.   The  sheer size of the tunnel is well illustrated by the commemorative segment of tunnel which has been erected on the site. Should you wish to explore the Ash river further down turn back to the main Bethlehem road, and after about 3kms on this road take the S217 - a dirt road to the left.   Follow this for about a kilometre and, as the road dips into the valley, you will see the tree-lined Ash River before you.  This is a good spot to pull up, get out and walk onto the bridge. If you’re an adrenalin enthusiast you might be tempted after seeing these rapids to make a booking with one of the White Water Rafting outfits in Clarens.  A positive spin-off from the Water Project is that this part of the Ash River is consistently flowing at more or less this rate on every day of the year.  Depending on the time of day that you arrive at the bridge, you are in a prime position to watch the rafts come down over the rapids.     &n
http://clarensguide.co.za/places/south-africa/free-state/clarens-1/hiking-1/ Clarens is well known for the many hiking trails available in the area - ranging from short easy trails, ideal for an evening stroll with the family,  to longer or more demanding trails for those looking to get some exercise or simply spend some time in the fresh air. Clarens Village Nature Reserve The trails are well marked and easily accessible from town.  There is no entry charge for hikers, but mountain bikers must get biking permits – available from Clarens Xtreme at 530 Sias Oosthuizen Street. The trails are well marked and maps of the trails are  available from Bibliophile, Protea Hotel, Mountain Odyssey, Old Stone Bottle Store, Maluti Footprints and The Gallery On The Square. Scilla Walk (easy 2.4 km): The name is derived from the blue-flowering Scilla (Merwilla plumbea), a protected species found in parts of the nature reserve. Maluti View: (700m) This trail is perfect for a late afternoon stroll and overlooks the Maluti Mountan Range. Ideal vantage point to watch the sun set. Kloof Mountain Trail (moderate: 3.4km) There is some initial climbing but the path across the summit is relatively easy, whilst the lower contour path is slightly more challenging. Stunning views. Kloof Dam Walk (easy: 1,2 km) The Kloof Dam is a popular fishing and swimming spot for locals. This easy walk continues past the dam to the Kloof where there is a pretty waterfall in summer. Leucosidea Trail (easy: 2.2km) An easy walk past the Kloof dam and surrounds. An abundance of spring and summer flowering plants occur in this area. Mallen Walk (moderately easy: 1,1km) The Mallen walk involves some initial climbing followed by an almost level contour path. Recommended walk for day visitors. The trail joins both the Kloof Mountain Trail and the Spruit walk, making for easy further exploration. Spruit Walk (easy: 2,5km)  This popular walk follows the Clarens spruit through ouhout scrub forest, Lombardy poplar and cypress plantations all the way to the Kloof dam. Porcupine Trail (easy: 3.5km) A looping trail which connects the Leucosidea and Kloof Mountain Trails. Enjoy sandstone outcrops and overhangs, open grassland and a wide variety of birdlife. Titanic Walk (moderate: 2km) An easy walk until you get to the final climb – which is not recommended for inexperienced hikers. Good views of Titanic and the surrounding area. Sky Contour Path: (3.4km) Ideal for the energtic and enthusiastic.  (2 hours) Caracal Contour (5.2km) The vistas are simply stunning. Highly recommended:   Go on a guided tour with the Clarens Village Nature Reserve Rangers: These trails are maintained by The Clarens Village Conservancy. Mount Horeb (Clarens Mountain Estate) There is a hiking trail that starts right in the Estate and leads up to Smiley Face, which- as the name may suggest- is a large smiley face painted on the side of Mount Horeb by an anonymous artist. From Smiley Face, another hiking trail leads up to the the summit of Mount Horeb. At the top of Mount Horeb, there is a Trig Beacon and visitors book. The magnificent view includes: Fouriesburg, Clarens, and vast parts of the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. Once you make it to the top be sure to sign the visitors book.   Click here  to watch the video  Rebellie Game Farm Test your fitness by challenging the mountain slopes to the top where you will meet up with the 4×4 trail. Be sure to take water and/or refreshments as this is serious climbing!  The lower 4 x 4 trail leads to the kloof and a lovely picnic spot under the willows. Relax – enjoy and escape from reality beside the chattering mountain stream. Help yourself to a drink from the uncontaminated spring water, originating high in the mountain. Hikers are welcome to visit Rebellie Game Farm at any time, but there is a small fee for day visitors.  Contact details St Fort For those who love to explore, St Fort offers four expertly laid out hiking trails. Cannibal Trail: For the more adventurous, this trail has sleep-over facilities in a the cave, complete with historic rock art.  For a brisk morning or afternoon walk, there are three shorter trails:The Mushroom Rock Trail, The Batwing Falls Trail and The Kloof Trail. All these trails take you through differing landscapes, from breathtaking mountain views, overhang caves, to river walks with numerous picnic spots, forest ambles and boulder hopping, in and along, gorges. The trails are well marked and provide all the amenities a hiker demands, from comfortable bedding, ablutions with flush toilets and hot showers as well as a reed enclosure with braai facilities.  …….More information  Bokpoort   Hikers can choose from a range of day  hikes ranging from 5 – 34 kms  or alternatively challenge themselves to the 2-day hike along the highlands and shimmering mountain streams. You choose how long you want to hike for and the degree of difficulty. Contact details   Schaapplaats Bushman Paintings and Mountain walk: I can’t think of a better way to start the day than taking an early morning walk to the cave at Schaapplaats.  But before you go – remember to phone Christine Walwyn on (058) 256 1176 or 083 630 3713 to warn her that you are coming. Schaapplaats is, after all, a working stud farm, and so it’s very important that the workers keep certain gates locked and that everyone knows exactly who is where on the farm. There is also an entrance fee of R50 which goes towards the upkeep of the trail and the safeguarding of the Bushman paintings….  Read more  Golden Gate Highlands National Park Choice of various hikes ranging from a 45 minute walk to the 2 day Rhebok Hiking Trail.   Collect your hiking map at the Glen Reenen Reception area before you set off.  We also recommend you visit The Solitary Ecologist website for full details, maps, and stunning photographs of the trails. Cathedral Cave Hike : Duration 4 Hours Guided Hike with a low difficulty grading. Booking essential. Wodehouse Hike: Duration ± 4 Hours Unguided Hike with a high degree of difficulty.  Click here for map (.kml file), gradients, and photographs from The Solitary Ecologist. Mushroom Rock Hike : Duration ± 1 Hr. Unguided hike with a low level of difficulty. Suitable for young children. Click here for map (.kml file), gradients, and photographs from The Solitary Ecologist. Echo-Ravine Hike: Duration ± 1 Hr. Unguided with a medium level of difficulty. Suitable for Children. Click here for map (.kml file), gradients, and photographs from The Solitary Ecologist. Boskloof Hike:  Duration ± 1 Hr. Unguided with a medium level of difficulty.  Click here for map (.klm file), gradients and photographs from The Solitary Ecologist. Holkrans Hike: Duration ± 1 Hr. Unguided Hike with an easy to medium level of difficulty.  Click here for map (.klm file), gradients and photographs from The Solitary Ecologist. Brandwag Rock Hike: Duration ± 1 Hr. Unguided loop hike, suitable for accompanied children with medium degree of difficulty. This hike has a chain to help with a steep accent. Click here for map (.klm file), gradients and photographs from The Solitary Ecologist. Rhebok Overnight Trail: Unguided with an easy start and a challenging second day. Includes: Rustic Hut, donkey shower, mattresses, fire wood and coal stove. Bring your own cooking facilities, food, utensils and sleeping bags.Distance: 31 km   Booking is essential: To book phone:  (058) 255 0951.  This hike has a chain to help with a steep accent. Click here for map (.klm file), gradients and photographs from The Solitary Ecologist. Basotho Cultural Village – Matlakeng Herbal Trail “Kgotso” we greet you in peace Matlakeng Herbal Trail –  The trail starts at 9h00 The Basotho Cultural Village.  An ngaka (traditional healer) escorts groups on a scenic 2 hour trail, all the while locating an array of grasses, roots, herbs, leaves and bark and explaining how these are prepared and used to cure ailments from toothache to sexually transmitted diseases, as well as their ritual uses in Basutho Culture.  Hikers can also expect to  see wild-life, and also some well-kept rock art. The herb trail is only open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, during the Spring and Summer months, and must be booked 2 days in advance. For more information phone: 058 721 0300 Sentinel/Tugela Falls Hike Stand at over 3000 meters above sea level and take in the view. The day hike  (13km) starts at the Witsieshoek car park (Qua Qua). (Be warned, the last section of road from Phuthaditjhaba to the Witsieshoek Sentinel carpark is very rough)  and takes you to the edge of the Amphitheatre via two chain ladders,  to the Tugela waterfall.    Hikers must be sure that they are well prepared for all weather conditions before starting off: the weather can change extremely quickly and one can go from full sunshine to misty conditions and even snow in a matter of minutes. Maluti Tours: (full day) tour starting in Clarens. Variations (eg. over-night at the top) can be arranged.  Contact details Clarens Xtreme:   (full day) tour starting in Clarens. Contact details Witsieshoek Mountain Lodge:  To book a guide email info@witsieshoek.co.za or phone: 058 7136361  (Advance booking is essential.)
Clarens - a breath of fresh air.    The perfect escape from city life.   Here we have no air polluting factories, no heavy traffic, none of the stress associated with living in a big city:  just lots of fresh air, a beautiful setting, friendly faces and loads of fun to be had in a totally relaxed atmosphere. The scenic setting, mild climate, nature areas, and the rather special Clarens village vibe all contribute to making Clarens a natural choice both for the people who live here and for visitors from elsewhere in South Africa and around the globe.  The geological history of the area can be read in the sandstone cliffs which surround Clarens and give Clarens its scenic setting and depending on which geological layer you find yourself you may find crystals (in the black rock at the top of the cliffs, or where, as a result of erosion they have washed down into river beds)  or fossils dating back millions of years.  The Rooiberge virtually cradle the town, and to the east Mount Horeb at 2449.5 meters above sea level, overlooks the town of Clarens 639.5 meters below.  (Incidentally Mount Horeb has a yellow smiley face, smiling down on the town.  This is a radio relay station for the Clarens Police Station.) The natural grassland areas around Clarens are rich in wild flowers which add an extra dimension to the enjoyment of the many hiking trails in the area. (Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve are a regular feature on the Clarens News website. Click here to learn more about the plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve.) Clarens also has The Golden Gate Highlands National Park on the doorstep:  scenic drives, game viewing, hikes ..... and lots more. Art and craft:  Clarens is often referred to as the Art Mecca of South Africa.  And given that Clarens has over  20 art galleries and that so many artists have chosen Clarens as their base, this is hardly surprising. Visitors are invited to do the Art Route, or simply stroll from gallery to gallery to enjoy the wide variety of artwork on offer. Many of the galleries and artists offer also offer art courses giving and aspiring artists have a chance to explore a wide variety of media, find inspiration or simply have some fun. Click here to go to the Art page More and more crafters are now also making their home in Clarens, and you will find interesting articles - many of them made in Clarens - on offer in some of the shops. Crafts vary from leatherwork and glass work, to hand-made knives, candles  and soft furnishings. Adventure: Click here to see the wide range of activities on offer in Clarens.   Those wishing to venture further afield (to Lesotho or neighbouring towns) will find a wide range of tours on offer, or alternatively, they can explore the area on their own.   (Click here for self-drive routes you can do from Clarens.) Clarens Village Nature Reserve. The Clarens Village Nature Reserve is within easy walking distance of the town square, and there are well-marked trails for hikers to enjoy.   Mountain bikers are also welcome, but need a permit to access the trails. Click here for more information on The Clarens Village Conservancy (which manages the Clarens Village Nature Reserve) and here for news on the Nature Reserve in particular. Click here for more information on hikes available in the area. Shopping.  Shopping in Clarens is the antithesis of the shopping mall experience, and Clarens is edge to edge with interesting shops - many of them stocking items which are not easily available elsewhere in South Africa.  Click here to go to the shopping page. Wine and Dine, stop for tea or coffee, enjoy a beer or grab a snack at one of the delicatesens.   Clarens has many excellent restaurants, coffee houses, tea shops, bars and delis.  There is something to suit every palate, whether you're looking for a fine dining experience or some hearty pub grub, it's all here in Clarens. Click here There are also many interesting places to visit within easy access of Clarens. Click here for self-drive sightseeing routes you can do from Clar