The Lesotho Highlands Water Project and its construction in particular had a major influence on the development of Clarens. Not only did the Lesotho Highlands Water Project found Larola - the residential area bordering the Fouriesberg Road between the R712 and Kgubetswana township, but it provided impetus to the growth of Clarens by attracting visitors (originally construction workers and later tourists) to the town.   Further Reading Launch of Lesotho Highlands Water Project- Phase 2  (Clarens News: May 2014.  Article by Mary Walker) Lesotho Highlands Water Project - Phase 2  (Clarens News: March 2014. Article by Mary Walker with  historical insight into building of Phase 1) Water - Lesotho Highlands Water Project (Clarens News: September 2013.  Background on the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, with reference to the impact of this project on Clarens) Self Drive - Ash River Outfall Drive  (Clarens News: April 2014) Map and information. Self drive: Clarens to Katse Dam  (Clarens News: March 2014.) Article by Rod and Rose Smart on their Katse experience - with tips on driving in Lesotho.) Katse Dam  (General information on Katse Dam, Tours to Katse Dam from Clarens, and the Katse Botanical Gardens.)   &n
    (Extract from The Diaries of a Village Idiot. ) written by Stephen Dunkley.  Author of Clarens Chronicles -  Stories from the Jewel of the Free State.  Stephen's Book is available at The Bibliophile in Clarens, and can also be purchased on line from The Clarens Chronicles website. After the attack on a group of Trek Boers near to the present day Harrismith by the Batlokwa (Wild cat people) tribe led by a fierce Chiefteness called Mantatisi , a commando of three to four hundred men under the command of Paul Kruger where dispatched by the South-African Republic (ZAR) on the 9th of September 1865 to take clean up the “moordenaarsnes” (murderers nest) at Witzieshoek, this they did pushing the Basotho through the Golden gate and near to the present day Clarens on the 28th of September the Commando decided to make camp for the night on the farm Boshoek. What the history books do not tell us is that it was late (approx 10 pm) when they arrived and it was a particularly cold and miserable evening and contrary to all normal military practices of the time a laager was not set up with men sleeping in the wagons where they stopped and some even sleeping in a nearby donga, the horses where not hobbled, this could have been a costly mistake as early in the morning of the 29th under the cover of darkness and a light rain Basotho warriors under the command of two chiefs, Lesoeana and Slanggaal fell upon the unsuspecting Boers, killing five in the initial confusion, the unhobbled horses fled and under very difficult circumstances the commando managed to re-group and drive the Basotho back through Naauwpoort Nek, (two kilometres away) inflicting heavy casualties on the fleeing warriors. The pursuing Boers wanted to chase the Basotho through the Nek, but Paul Kruger had a grudging respect for the Basotho and knew that they could have an ambush set up on the Clarens side of the Nek that could have seen more deaths on the side of the Boers. The word was sent out and more men came to join the Commando from Bethlehem, Paul Roux, Senekal as well as other nearby settlements and within two days there where a large number of well armed men that drove the Basotho out of the valley. The five Boers where buried where they died with only three graves still being visible today, it is thought that two of the men where exhumed by loved ones some years later and buried on family farms somewhere in the Transvaal Republic. The monument that stands on the square today was originally erected on the site where the battle took place and near to where the men where buried, it was unveiled on the 16th of December 1895 in front of a large crowd, the monument was moved to coincide with the silver jubilee of Clarens in 1962 and was re-unveiled by the then State President, the honourable C R Swart. Sadly all that remains today is a badly overgrown graveyard with a rusty fence and gate as well as few sandstone pillars that at one time I presume formed the enclosed area where the monument stood. A couple of years ago Neil van Schalkwyk unearthed the sign post that showed the way to the monument and moved it to his farm so that it wont be lost forever.   History Tours Sethuthuthu/Gnu Safaris Clarens Dinosaur Tours   Further Reading Click here for more articles on the history of Clarens     &n
Environment:  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 of the Clarens News newsletters. 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 Clarens.   &n
 Clarens History Clarens was incorporated as a town in 1912, the same year that the 'unsinkable' Titanic was launched. Tragically, the Titanic did sink and the event was a major topic of discussion for many months. During this time, a resident of the newly established Clarens, looking north from the little town towards Naauwpoort Nek, saw the prominent rock feature there and suggested that it looked like the Titanic, which is what it has been called ever since. Titanic Rock stands, sentry-like, to welcome and protect all who visit the village. Not surprisingly, in view of the beauty of its surroundings, Clarens has become a haven of tranquillity for artists, solitude seekers and nature lovers both from South Africa and abroad. It offers various outdoor pursuits, such as birding, hiking trails, horse riding, 4x4 trails, trout and bass fishing, golf, tennis, squash, bowls and clay pigeon shooting. Various places of historical or archaeological interest are to be found here, including Surrender Hill, dinosaur fossil sites and bushmen paintings in nearby caves. The nearby Golden Gate Highlands National Park is home to a number of unusual lichens that occur nowhere else. The park is named for the unusual geography of the area, typified by striated sandstone cliffs, which turn golden in the rays of the setting sun. The village of Clarens itself has numerous art galleries as well as craft shops, restaurants and coffee shops. Clarens is a key point on the scenic Highlands route, linking the towns of Harrismith, Bethlehem and Fouriesburg. The gateway to the Lesotho Highlands, the Malutis and the Drakensberg, Clarens is also an important stopover for people travelling to and from Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal to the Cape and vice versa. It is centrally situated, being only three hours from Johannesburg, Pretoria and Bloemfontein and four hours from Durban. The Anglo-Boer War started in 1899. By December 1899 the Boers had beaten the British in three battles – at Stormberg, Magersfontein and Spionkop. This was followed by success at Colenso. The Boers had also successfully besieged Ladysmith, Kimberley and Mafikeng. However, they began to lose the initiative by getting stuck in static battles of attrition rather than using their mobility to push on into Natal after winning at Colenso. This afforded the British the opportunity to build up their forces – which they did, and in quick succession they took Paardeberg, relieved Ladysmith, and captured Bloemfontein, Johannesburg and Pretoria. These British victories affected the morale of the Boers in the Transvaal and many of them returned to their homes and farms. The Free State Boers, however, went on to achieve successes at Lindley and Heilbron and at the Rhenoster River, where the British suffered 1 500 casualties. By mid-June 1900, war operations had started in the Brandwater Basin, an area situated between the town of Fouriesburg and the well-known landmark of Golden Gate. The Brandwater Basin gets its name from the Brandwater River, a tributary of the Caledon River that runs along the foothills of the Maluti Mountains. At that time, British troops numbered 200 000 and the active Boers only 20 000. The Boer morale continued to decline, and there was confusion and uncertainty regarding their leadership. On June 14, Lord Roberts made definite plans to defeat the Boers under Generals De Wet and Steyn in the eastern Free State and on July 6-7 the Boers were defeated at Bethlehem. They decided to retire into the Brandwater Basin. On July 11, 1900, after a council of war, the Boers decided to escape out of the Basin in three groups and at this stage a crisis in leadership manifested itself. There were only a few passes into or out of the Basin. These were Naauwpoortnek in the east, Commando and Generals in the south, Slabberts and Retiefs in the north and the Golden Gate. Over a short period of about six days the British took Spitzkrans, Retief’s Nek, Slabbert’s Nek and Fouriesburg, almost unopposed. They then managed to block Naauwpoort Nek. On July 27, the Boers attempted to retreat from Naauwpoort Nek along the Little Caledon River towards Golden Gate, but they encountered British forces under Macdonald and retreated to Slaapkrans, now known as Surrender Hill. On the night of July 28 the British took Slaapkrans. The Boer Commander Prinsloo attempted to negotiate an armistice and 1 500 Boer troops escaped through Golden Gate. Two days later, 3 000 Boers under Prinsloo surrendered at Verliesfontein on Slaapkrans (Surrender Hill) and, on July 31, 1 500 Boers under Du Plooy, Joubert and Potgieter surrendered at Kirksvlei just beyond Golden Gate. Boer commando weapons were destroyed by burning on Surrender Hill. By August  9, 1900 the British had captured 4 314 men, three field guns and 2 800 head of cattle and they destroyed about 6-million rounds of ammunition. The prisoners were despatched by train to Cape Town and were eventually shipped to Ceylon, Bermuda and St Helena. They were permitted to return to South Africa only if they signed allegiance to the British Crown. Many never did so. Surrender Hill was proclaimed a national monument in 1986. The plaque at the site reads as follows: “In July 1890 a large part of the Free State armed forces were surrounded by British troops in the Brandwater Basin. Gen CR De Wet and about 2 000 men escaped over Slabbert’s Nek. In the basin, Chief Comdt Marthinus Prinsloo assumed command and on 31 July agreed to surrender. More than 4 300 Boers laid down their arms. Most of them at Surrender Hill, where the British destroyed the captured arms and ammunition. The bare patches caused by the fire and exploding ammunition serve as a reminder of one of the most serious setbacks suffered by the Boers during the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902).” Dinosaurs: Millions of years ago these parts teemed with many different kinds of animals and plants. Today many are extinct but their remains are preserved as fossils, found in different rock layers that can be up to  240 million years old. There are some exciting fossil sites in the Clarens area, and new ones are still being found. The fossils already discovered show how sizes differed among the dinosaurs. For example, the Massospondylus was about 5m to 6m long; while the Lesothosaurus was only about 90cm long. From fossil records we also know that while Massospondylus walked on four legs it could rear up on its hind legs to feed off foliage high above ground level. This dinosaur swallowed stones to help it to grind the plant material it ate into a pulp in its stomach. Rock art: Rock art is Africa’s oldest artistic tradition and South African Bushman or San rock art is one of the finest, oldest and most enduring artistic traditions in the world. Most of the art seems to have been made during the last 2 000 years and much of it in the last 800 years, although some sites in Namibia have been dated at between 27 000 and 30 000 years old. Rock art is visual imagery painted onto or engraved out of the rock face. It is an archaeological artefact that tells us about its makers, who they were, where they lived and what they thought and did. Bushman rock art is also highly symbolic and religious. Shamanism centres on a belief in a spiritual world that exists behind the rock and which medicine people or shamans could travel to in order to heal, make rain, fight evil and so forth. Functioning as both homes and sacred spaces, the rock art shelters are monuments to the lives and spirituality of the Bushmen. There are over 25 000 rock art sites throughout South Africa. Many of these are in the vicinity of Clarens, Golden Gate and the Maluti Mountains, with several exceptional rock art sites close to Clarens. Guides are available to assist visitors and in many cases visitors are able to make their own way to the sites. Rock art is an irreplaceable treasure that must be looked after and protected. Extract from an Article written by Tina de Beer for Open Africa (www.openafica.org/route/Clarens-Route)   Click here  to read more on the history of Clarens and for information on  history tours offered in Clarens     &n
      Temperature and Rainfall in Clarens The average monthly temperature and rainfall figures for Clarens  (extracted from the Meoweather website ) based on historical information are as follows:   CLARENS AVERAGE WEATHER BY MONTH Month MaxTemperature °C MinTemperature °C Monthly Rainfall mm January 27.2 12.9 113 February 26.7 12.5 115.4 March 25.2 10.6 74.6 April 22.7 6.4 39.8 May 19.7 1.6 17.5 June 17.4 -1.8 9.7 July 17.3 -2.2 12.4 August 20.2 0.6 15.9 September 23.7 4.3 17.1 October 25.1 8.1 87.4 November 25.9 10 96.7 December 27 11.9 108.5   Click here for the Weather Forecast Click here to return to the page on Clarens Climate     News items: Clarens News June 2014:  How to stay warm in Clarens
We've long enjoyed the high quality range of beers and ciders on offer at The Clarens Brewery.  The range of award winning beers, bottled under the Clarens Brewery label are brewed at the brewery premises in  Market Street, and until recently the ciders were brewed out on Natalie and Stefan's farm.  This turned out to be a bit of a logistic problem, and so now all the machinery has been moved to Sias Oosthuizen Street. I visited the "factory" on Sias Oosthuizen Street to have a look at the process.  The machinery was imported from Austria in 2005, and is the only one of its kind in South Africa. Given enough fruit the factory can produce 4000 litres of juice per day - and it's so efficient that it only needs two people to run it. It's all quite fascinating to watch as apples are loaded into the machine, washed and escalated upwards into the press, but  there's not much to see at the other end, except for the pulp as all the juice is piped directly into a holding tank. They use machine mainly to press apples and pears, but the the machinery is also capable of pressing other fruit.   It took loads of will power to stop myself from stealing an apple (or two) from the waiting bins of apples waiting to be pressed.  Only apples which have been freshly picked off the trees are used.  (Stefan told me that, whilst it may be tempting to use windfall apples, these are never used as any apples that have been in contact with the ground are covered in micro-organisms which make the juice cloudy.)  Cider is also made from pears, berries and cherries - and again only the best quality produce is used. The ciders are brewed under the Red Stone label: a name inspired by the Rooiberg range which overlooks Clarens. And the labels feature flora and fauna that are commonly sighted in the area. (The Apple cider label features the red-wing starling; Pineapple cider features a porcupine; Cherry cider features an ibis, and the berry cider features a jackal.)  You could say that this product is not only made in  Clarens but it also reflects so much of what we love about this town.   Article by Toni B Walters Clarens News 11 April,
From the moment you walk into the Tina De Beer Gallery in Clarens, you feel as though you are a discoverer and that you have found hidden treasure. I am not sure how else to describe this feeling, but will try to explain what I think it is.Over a lifetime of exploring the far reaches of Southern Africa you would have found landscapes, seascapes, flowers and wildlife that have left an impression on you; a moment with a majestic Kudu, the cleanliness of the dessert. Tina has captured these jewels of African life, fauna and flora from her own experiences.The feeling one gets browsing through the gallery is that each one of her individual paintings captures one of these unique moments. When you realize that the entire exhibition is made up of extraordinary individuals, you get a sense that you are in a very special place.Tina's art is not mass-produced. Each painting is unique. This she says: "is how her passion and love for painting, stays alive." Moments captured from all over Southern Africa, a moment that you could own and hang in your home to be appreciated for generations.Tina De Beer paintings hang in many homes and offices throughout South Africa. And internationally as far afield as he United Kingdom, France, The Netherlands, Greece, Poland, Canada and Australia.She has been presented at combined exhibitions in Germany, Johannesburg, and North West Province. Solo exhibitions in Rustenburg and Knysna. She now paints and sells from the TINA DE BEER GALLERY in Clarens.Tina De Beer was born in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). She grew up on a farm in Mashonaland. Her childhood mentor N.H. Brettell, taught her to express herself with paints from the age of nine.After schooling at Girls High in Salisbury, she relocated to Pretoria to train as a teacher. In 1992 she gave up teaching and began painting full-time. She soon discovered the many different and expressive approaches of oil painting. Workshops and the continual study of the work and writing of other artists, has sharpened her painting skills.She truly loves what she does and is passionate about her work. She is well known for the extreme effort she puts into commissions for her clients.It is a real treat visiting the Tina De Beer Gallery in Clarens. I will be back soon. (Article originally published in Clarens Mag) &n
 Local Tours  Tours to Lesotho  
Hi there Firstly, season’s greetings to all and if you are travelling over the holidays, drive carefully. The Numbering of Clarens’ Properties in line with the South African Protocol is now complete, i.e., approved by Province and is being handed over to the Municipality for inclusion in their billing system; so you should see your new house number next year on your Municipal Account.  Thanks Ralph and Rodney for your had work on this. It is time to call on you for your support by either renewing your membership or, if you are not already a member, joining these three associations.  The cost of subscriptions is as follows: Village R300.00 per annum for each household, with a 50% reduction for pensioners Housing Estates R120.00 per annum As most of you are aware, the funds are shared as follows – 50% to the CVC, 25% to the CRA and 25% to the CVFA, with top-ups from the CRA to the CVC and/or the CVFA as required throughout the year.  We have to pay our Rangers and of course, we want to keep them, so please dig into your hard earned cash and join us.  Of course should you wish to donate more that the subscription amount, any sum will be most gratefully received.   Click here for Membership Form and Bank Details  (Please let me know if you require an invoice) Many thanks.