The Clarens Brewery was another place that was closed on Tuesdays. Apparantly they brews fine hand crafted beers and cider . They claim to be the first and only microbrewery in the Free State and have been since December 2006. Their brewer, Stephan Meyer, has a passion for microbrewed beer and has been been brewing full grain, pure malt beers since 2004 with an absolute dedication to quality and craftmanship. Go and give them a try when you are in town.
We discovered the Basotho Cultural Village en-route to Clarens. It is situated 10km from Phuthaditjhaba on the R712 to Golden Gate. This is a replication of a Basotho village and shows how the homes have changed over the past 2 centuries. You get to speak to the chief, sample the local beer and consult with the witchdoctor. You will also be entertained by traditional Basotho dancers and can shop at their curio shop. They have a selection of arts and crafts for sale.
The Basotho Cultural Village takes you for a walk down the pathway of time. It is here where the lifestyle and architecture of the South Sotho is accurately depicted from the sixteenth century to the dramatically colourful present.
Follow the guides footsteps into the "khotla", the gathering place of men. Accept the Basotho hospitality by taking a sip from the traditional beer offered. Listen to the rangoon and lesiba and engage in a game of marabaraba.
Consult the ngaka, the captains advisor, in his professional capacity as traditional healer and allow him to enlighten you as he has been doing for centuries.
Step into the home of either the first, second or third wife and move to the rhythm of the women grinding the maize and sifting beer.
Pass the tokened where grandmothers used to gather the young girls around them to initiate them in folklore by ways of riddles, fables and marvelous tales.
The huts are built and furnished according to the time frame depicted by each one.
The interior and exterior decoration of huts is done by the Basotho women. It is called litem and can still be admired on a drive through the Free State rural areas. The colours are extremely vibrant and dramatic.
At reception of the culteral village you are guaranteed Basotho hospitality at its best. The art gallery boasts work of local artists and a permanent photographic exhibition of the building process of the village and litem art in the Eastern Free State.
The curio shop offers a wide variety of Basotho arts and crafts.
There is nothing like a warm traditional Basotho meal in our sandstone amphitheatre and the entertaining sounds of the accordion and drum to complete an unforgettable experience.
The heart of the visitor is finally won over by the majesty of the surrounding landscape and by the spiritual ethos of the beautiful Basotho people dancing, singing and rejoicing in sheer well-being and to their hearts content.
It was truely a great experience, I did not like to food and drink samples too much, but heck you have to try things out.
Driving to Clarens from Qwantani resort, we had to pass the Golden Gate reserve with its magnificent mountains and scenery. Clarens is part of the scenic Highlands Route and is surrounded by mountainous splendour. The Rooiberge is the range encompassing the village, whilst further on towards the southeast, the mighty Maluti’s stand proud in shades of purple and blue. All around are the sandstone cliffs with their multi-coloured layers - this horizontal strata is a unique geological feature of the area, and is known as the Clarens formation. Many homes in the Clarens Valley are made from Clarens Sandstone.
The hiking around Clarens is amazing. You just walk to the edge of town and go adventuring! The sights are incredible, especially the rock formations, and its a wonderful way to unwind. They are not too challenging but be sure to take along some water and sun screen!
I went on an amazing 2 hour horse ride on the lovely farm Bokpoort, just outside of Clarens. Bookings can be made via the tourist office in Clarens or you can phone Bokpoort directly.
The ride caters for everyone from novice to experienced. The horses look well and the tack is in good condition. The ride itself is amazing and the scenery is stunning. You really feel like a cowboy and its a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
Clarens is small town in the Free State.
It started out with a few artists moving there.
It claims to be the town with the most trees in the Free State. The well known SA artist Frans Claerhout lived in the area and you will find some of his works in the numerous galleries. He passed away recently at the age of 87. http://www.mg.co.za/articlePage.aspx?articleid=276204&area=/obituaries/
There are wonderful restaurants,art galleries and shops. Even though the tourists, from SA and abroad found it, it still has a feeling of tranquility and peace.
At Schaapplaats you can take a leisurely horse ride. If you are not very familiar with horses you will get a guide that leads the horse. Ideal for kids on their first horse riding trip.
You can also spend a week or so on Schaapplaats with horse riding and jumping lessons daily.
On the road from Clarens pass Golden Gate to Lesotho you will find this cultural village. I found it very authentic and interesting.
You have to obtain the chief's permission to enter. The beer drinking ceremony that follows only allowed men. True to my nature I complained and they allowed me to attend. I should have kept my big mouth shut. The beer is horrible.
After that you are allowed into village, visit the sangoma, enter the huts where the women explain the food and cooking procedures.
At the entrance is a curio shop with handmade articles.
At this little shop you can buy lovely home made preserves, koeksisters and many other south african specialites. Unfortunately they were also closed when we were there.
I am not sure if this would be called the town square or just the patch of ground in the middle of town. Hopefully they use it for something good during summer months.
Unfortunately it was closed, but peeking through the window it showed some very interesting pieces on display.