THE BLOEMFONTEIN TOURIST CENTRE
The Bloemfontein Tourist Centre is kind of a ‘One Stop Shop’ for Tourism. It has a large free car park and is located in a mall type set up. In the mall is food, toilets (pay), souvenir shops and several bus companies that use this as a bus station with links all over southern Africa. The staff of the actual Information Office are helpful and will give you a large, free, colourful map that has everything on it you will need. They can also assist with accommodation information.
Open hours: 8am-4.15pm Mon-Fri; 8am-noon Sat.
- Budget Travel
- Family Travel
- Study Abroad
An interesting use of power station cooling towers
Disused power stations are seldom pretty things, but some South Africans are beginning to view their lack of aesthetic appeal as a bit of a challenge.
These cooling towers are located on the southern fringe of Bloem's CBD, en route for the Anglo Boer War museum. The weekend that we visited, the ANC was holding its centenary birthday celebrations in Bloem, and some creative soul had come up with the excellent idea of decorating the towers with the images of former ANC leaders, including Nelson Mandela, John Dube and Chief Albert Luthuli (the first of South Africa's four Nobel Peace Prize winners).
Unfortunately the execution was less effective than the design, and on the day we drove past (the second day of the birthday celebrations), workmen were still trying to complete the artwork ... a sterling example of Africa Time in action!
For another innovative idea on what else to do with defunct cooling towers, read my tip on bungee jumping at the Orlando Towers in Soweto.
Be touched by the statue of the 'Farewell'
This utterly wonderful piece of sculpture is located next to the car park of the Anglo Boer War museum, and depicts a Boer commando bidding farewell to his wife and child.
Everything about this statue is gorgeous: from the sense of urgency conveyed by the soldier and his spirited horse to the serenely stoic expression of the wife sending her husband off to war to defend the values and way of life that they hold dear.
The specific date (11 October 1899) on the basal plinth indicates the date on which the Anglo Boer War was declared, indicating that the soldier has immediately heeded the call to arms.
This statue is surprisingly recent, having been unveiled in 1986. I still need to do some research on who sculpted this, which is proving surprisingly troublesome to find out ...
Monument to the forced Boer emigres
Yet another glorious piece of sculpture from the Anglo Boer War museum/Women's Monument complex, this time to commemorate the captured Boers who were subsequently sent into exile.
I found the background to this statue particularly interesting, as I wasn't previously aware that there had been a programme of exiling Boer prisoners of war (PoWs). The strategy was to keep them in places from which they couldn't escape and make a nuisance of themselves, and virtually all the Boer PoWs - 26,000 in total - were sent into exile.
Prisoner of war camps were established in British colonies elsewhere, including places as far flung as St Helena, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), India and Bermuda, and PoWs were repatriated at the end of the conflict.
This lovely sculpture depicting an old man and a young boy staring dejectedly over the railing of a ship as their beloved homeland sinks below the horizon is by Danie de Jager and was unveiled in 1983.
General Hertzog gives the world the finger
I just love it when a statue succeeds in capturing the spirit of the person that it commemorates ... as is certainly the case with this statue of General Barry Hertzog, complete with startling contemporary gesture!
James Barry Munnik Hertzog was an Afrikaans lawyer who rose to the rank of General in the Anglo Boer War. He was responsible for orchestrating a highly effective guerilla war campaign against the British, and when the might of the British army finally won out against the dogged Boer forces, he was one of the Boer generals who signed the Treaty of Vereeniging in 1902.
When the pro-British Jan Smuts was ousted from power, Hertzog became the third Prime Minister of South Africa (a position that he held from 1924 to 1939) and presided over the introduction of a slew of social and economic legislation that created a welfare state designed specifically to protect the privileges of the white population. On Hertzog's watch, white women were given the vote in 1930, which was a move that was more aimed at reinforcing the white majority than an enlightened view on gender equality, and the white stranglehold on political power in South Africa was made complete when blacks were completely removed from the voters roll in 1936.
Apparently Hertzog was renowned for raising his finger as he lectured others ... and maybe when this statue was sculpted, this gesture didn't have quite the same forthright meaning as it does today. However, given that Hertzog was an arch Afrikaaner nationalist and was instrumental in implementing many of the laws and policies that would later consolidate to form the foundation of the apartheid system - which resulted in South Africa becoming a pariah state - it's hard not to suspect that the gesture may have been directed at the rest of the disapproving world!
Celebrating the ANC centenary in January 2012
When we visited Bloem, the main streets had been decorated in preparation for the ANC's centenary celebrations.
The most eye catching of the decorations was a series of posters thanking other countries for the assistance that they offered the ANC during the Struggle Years. These posters paid tribute to allies such as Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Namibia, Lesotho, Botswana and Cuba, and featured a gallery of the independence leaders of yesteryear (Julius Nyerere, Sam Njoma, King Moshoeshoe II, Sir Seretse Khama and Fidel Castro) and the last surviving leader of the era and that most durable of dictators ... the seemingly indestructable Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
Tiger Sanctuary, Philippolis, Free State
About 150 km from Bloemfontein off N1 on R717 road lies a small town of Philoppolis. A Free State conservationist and film maker John Vatty started an initiative in 1999-2000 to save the swiftly evaporating population of Bengal tigers from this planet. Today there are around 17 tigers in it. Tiger Canyons near Philippolis in the Free State is a dedicated Sanctuary for tigers as well as a natural habitat Reserve. It is the only free-roaming Tiger Sanctuary in South Africa.
Personalised vehicle safaris with John Varty are also offered. These can be one, two or three days in duration, and overnight accommodation can be arranged for you at a nearby establishment.
- National/State Park
Soetdoring Nature Reserve
Soetdoring means a "thorn tree" which aplenty in free state.. Soetdoring nature reserve lies about 40 km from Bloemfontein on the main Bultfontein road.. there is alot to see and do here.. there are almost 15 picnic points near the Modder river which passes through the reserve and lots of games like zebras lots of species of boks, kudus, buffaloes and birds... there is a fenced area for lions also if one is interested they must plan early wednesday morning becuz lions are fed at 7.30 every wednesday morning and they come out of bush for food... entrance per vehicle is R 20.00 and they close the gate at 18.00 in the evening so one must come out before that.. there are braii places at all picnic spots and wood can be found in form of broken branches of the soetdoring trees all around..
- National/State Park
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Maselspoort is located a mere 23km from Bloemfontein, and has been an accessible escape for the people of Bloemfontein since the 1930’s. A fisherman's paradise, Maselspoort offers a choice of leisure facilities. A range of leisure activities are available with casino, golf course, bowls and squash nearby.
The Modder River makes for the perfect place to spend a day relaxing … either pack a delicious picnic lunch to enjoy on the river banks, or try a slightly less lazy pursuit, and follow a hiking trail, horse ride or spend a few hours game viewing. All are available.
- Water Sports
Willem Pretorius Nature Reserve
Almost everything instead of lion and elephant of Big 5.. one of the most richly wild and historical 2 hours drive from West Gate to the East... number of deer species as well as buffaloes, rhinos etc. but my main intention was to go and explore the historical ruins of Leghoya people who lived here almost 600 years ago.. unfortunately not much details about that big city of its time available at information center nor any map of different drives inside the park.. so over all experience has to be done by one's own sense of game and nature as well as history.. and most importantly just an hour drive from my Beautiful Bloemfontein..
Golden Gate Highlands Park
About 3 hours drive from Bloemfontein lies this most picturesque landscape of Southern Africa. Nestled in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains of the north eastern Free State lies the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. The park derives its name from the brilliant shades of gold cast by the sun on the park’s sandstone cliffs, especially the imposing Brandwag rock, keeping vigil over the main rest camp.
This 11 600 hectares of unique environment is true highland habitat, providing home to a variety of mammals – black wildebeest, eland, blesbok, oribi, springbok and Burchell’s zebra - and birds, including the rare bearded vulture (lammergeier) and the equally rare bald ibis, which breed on the ledges in the sandstone cliffs. Ribbokkop, the highest point in the park, reveals a breathtaking tapestry of red, yellow and purple hues as its warm shades merge with the cool mountain shadows towards evening.
- National/State Park
Rustfontein Dam Nature Reserve
Rustfontein Dam Nature Reserve, a weekend playground for the people of Botshabelo, is 50 km east of Bloemfontein just off the Bloemfontein/Thaba 'Nchu road (R64). Braai and ablution facilities are located along the shoreline.
There are however, no shopping facilities and visitors must bring their own equipment and provision. Sailing skiing, windsurfing, angling; name any water sport and it is probably practised at Rustfontein Nature Reserve. Black wildebeest, blesbok, springbok and Burchell’s zebra frequent the plains where blue korhaan, secretary birds and longtailed widow birds are seen. Egyptian geese are usually present in large numbers on the dam. Yellowfish, mudfish, barbel and carp are popular angling species.
The surrounding countryside, with its tree-studded koppies and grassy hillsides, provides an attractive backdrop to this dam that water-sport enthusiasts have chosen as their playgroung. Angling and water sports are the main activities and angling competitions are held regularly.
- Budget Travel
- Adventure Travel
President Brand laid the foundation stone for the Dutch Reformed church on 10 May 1878, and on 7 May 1880 the building was consecrated. The structure was notable for its twin spires, and is commonly known amongst citizens of Bloemfontein as the Tweetoring Kerk. Located in the Henry Street in the city center.
- Historical Travel
The Supreme Court of South Africa
South Africa is administratively divided into four capital offices and Bloemfontein being the Judicial Capital of the country is a home to most Superior Court of the country. The Supreme Court building in Pres. Brand Street is said to have been built in a free Renaissance style. The old part was built with sandstone from Ladybrand and the newer eastern wing with sandstone from Ficksburg.
- Budget Travel
- Historical Travel
Oliwenhuis Art Museum
Oliewenhuis Art Museum is a declared national institution with a mission to collect, conserve and exhibit works of art which represent the heritage of South African art. There is a short hiking trail in its fold which I have done once and in my blue days, those gardens were my safe heavens.
This Museum has been used by King George as his residence in 1947. As I mentioned earlier that I used to spend so much time here eventually whenever I felt blue as the Museum is located in one of the most magnificent gardens in the city, a large section of the property comprises natural vegetation bordering on the Museum grounds. It is the only museum of its kind in the Free State and one of the youngest art museums in the country.
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits