Why Clarens is the perfect weekend escape

Winona Griggs

The Perfect Weekend Escape: Discovering the Charm of Clarens

Hey there! If you’re in need of a refreshing getaway, I’ve got just the place for you. Let me introduce you to Clarens – a hidden gem nestled in the heart of nature. I recently had the pleasure of visiting, and I couldn’t help but fall in love with everything it had to offer.

So, why is Clarens the perfect weekend escape, you ask? Well, let me share a few reasons that make this quaint town truly special.

Awe-Inspiring Scenery

First things first, Clarens is blessed with some of the most breathtaking scenery you’ll ever lay your eyes on. Think rolling green hills, majestic mountains, and crystal-clear rivers. It’s like stepping into a postcard or a painting brought to life. Every corner you turn reveals a picturesque view that will leave you in awe.

A Peaceful Oasis

One of the things I cherished most about Clarens is the tranquility it offers. Far away from the hustle and bustle of city life, it’s a place where you can truly unwind and reconnect with nature. Whether you’re strolling through the charming streets or hiking along the scenic trails, you’ll find yourself immersed in a sense of calm and serenity that is hard to find elsewhere.

Creative Haven

Calling all art enthusiasts! Clarens is a haven for creativity. This little town is alive with artistic spirit, boasting numerous art galleries, craft shops, and studios. You’ll find yourself surrounded by beautiful works of art, handmade crafts, and unique pieces to cherish. It’s a place that nurtures and celebrates the creative soul in all of us.

Outdoor Adventures

For those who seek adventure, Clarens has it all. From exhilarating hiking trails and mountain biking routes to thrilling water sports and fly fishing opportunities, there’s no shortage of outdoor activities to get your heart racing. Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or simply love exploring the great outdoors, Clarens offers a playground of adventure waiting to be discovered.

Warm Hospitality

Lastly, the warm and welcoming nature of the locals adds an extra charm to Clarens. From the moment you arrive, you’ll be greeted with smiles and genuine hospitality. The friendly locals go out of their way to make sure you feel at home, whether it’s recommending the best spots to eat, sharing stories about the town’s history, or simply making you feel like a part of their community.

In conclusion, Clarens is more than just a weekend escape; it’s an experience that will stay with you long after you leave. With its awe-inspiring scenery, peaceful atmosphere, creative spirit, adventurous opportunities, and warm hospitality, it’s a place that has a little something for everyone. So, why not pack your bags and embark on a journey to Clarens? Trust me, it’s a decision you won’t regret.

Why Clarens is the perfect weekend escape

Let me tell you about Clarens. It’s such a wonderful place! When you visit, you’ll get to experience a cozy village vibe and see breathtaking mountains. I think you should definitely check it out, just like Melanie Van Zyl suggests.

Located in the southeastern part of the Free State, Clarens is quite different from the rest of the province. While the region is known for its flatness, Clarens stands out with its majestic mountains. These mountains are massive and have a special kind of beauty that will leave you in awe. They almost resemble the stereotypical farmers you might imagine in this area!

Tucked away in a valley surrounded by these magnificent orange sandstone walls, Clarens is a delightful little village. It has everything you need to have a fantastic time. There are unique restaurants where you can enjoy delicious meals, great shops for some retail therapy, and even locally brewed beer for beer lovers.

Imagine a place named after the scenic Clarens of Switzerland, where Paul Kruger found solace during his final days of exile. That’s the South African Clarens for you – a captivating destination for weekend getaways. It’s a favorite choice for folks from Johannesburg, and even Durbanites are starting to flock here. And why not? It’s conveniently located just a bit over three hours away from both cities. When you step into Clarens, you can instantly feel its artistic soul. This place has rightfully earned its reputation as an artists’ paradise, with a plethora of galleries to explore. But what truly sets Clarens apart is its commitment to authenticity. There are no big franchises or corporate giants here. You won’t find a Wimpy or a Woolies in sight, and the closest 1-Stop is a good forty kilometers away in Bethlehem. And honestly, that’s how it should be. Every establishment in Clarens is run by its passionate owners, adding their personal touch and making each experience unique. From the cozy eateries to the charming boutique stores, everything has its own special flavor. Even the accommodation options, with the exception of the Protea Hotel, are small and distinctive. Clarens is a place that cherishes its individuality, and that’s what makes it a truly special gem.

Why Clarens is the perfect weekend escape

Hey there, I’m hanging out at Clarens Brewery, sipping on a refreshing glass of cherry-flavored Red Stone Cider. The cherries used to make this delicious drink actually come from right here in the region. It’s just one of the many tasty treats you can find in this charming village.

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Speaking of treats, there’s a fantastic blanket shop nearby that has been around for over 50 years. They have a wide selection of cozy Basotho blankets in all sorts of vibrant colors. And if you’re craving some farm-fresh goodness, head over to Bon Appetit. They have the most amazing eggs and butter. They’re located on the only tarred road in town, which is also home to some quirky shops and no traffic lights.

But let me tell you, the real beauty of this place lies in its breathtaking natural surroundings. That’s why I always prefer to stay closer to the mountains instead of right in the village. Just a short 10-kilometer drive from town, you’ll find the incredible country house of artists Simon Addy and Lynne Hoyle. They’ve graciously opened up their home to visitors like you and me.

Stepping into their house feels like being enveloped in warmth and love. It’s a true family home that can comfortably accommodate up to 12 people. The kitchen is especially inviting, with a big wooden table that has seen its fair share of lively conversations over the years. And the old Aga ovens keep the space cozy and welcoming.

So if you’re looking for a memorable getaway with family or friends, Clarens is the place to be. Whether you’re exploring the charming village, indulging in local delights, or enjoying the beauty of the mountains, there’s always something special waiting for you here. Experience the magic of Clarens for yourself!

Hey, let me tell you about a cool place called Motouleng Cave, also known as the Fertility Cave. It’s something different to check out in the area, and I think you’ll really like it. I have a shortcut to get there, so we can enjoy the beautiful view along the way. As we drive through the hills, let me share what I know.

So, get this: someone once came here in winter and said it was vaal. But you know what? Even with the cold, I think it’s just as beautiful. The taupe and khaki tones give it a unique charm. It’s like nature’s artwork.

Now, when we reach the cave, we’ll take a steep path down. As we go, you’ll see a small community living below an enormous overhang beside a stream. It’s quite the sight. There are cats and chickens roaming around, and you’ll spot small homesteads and rockeries. It has an eerie, mysterious vibe.

But you know what makes this place special? It’s been a sacred spot for worship for as long as people can remember. The name Motouleng means ‘the place where the drums keep beating.’ The caves, or rather the long overhangs, hold great significance for both traditional religions and independent Christian churches. In the deep crevices, people light candles to symbolize their devotion.

And get this – this overhanging cave is one of the biggest in the southern hemisphere. It’s not just a place of spiritual importance, but also serves as shelter for the small village nearby. Locals come here to learn about their ancestors or to become healers. They stay for months, sometimes even years. On weekends, many people descend the trail to give thanks, so it can get pretty busy.

I have to say, I’m happily surprised that such a unique and culturally rich place still exists. It’s like stepping into a different world. So, are you up for this adventure? I promise it’ll be worth it.

Why Clarens is the perfect weekend escape

Every time I come back to Clarens, I can’t help but be amazed by the stunning mountains and all the outdoor activities waiting to be enjoyed. The Rooiberge mountains surround the village, casting shadows that make the village square a little darker and keeping the sun from rising over the horizon too early. It’s the perfect setting for sleeping in and making the most of your time off. Down south-east, you’ll find the majestic Malotis mountains, their colors painting the sky with shades of purple and deep blue like litmus paper.

But the most extraordinary sight has to be the sandstone cliffs of the Clarens Formation. These cliffs are unique to the area and can be best appreciated on the drive from Harrismith to Golden Gate National Park. As the sun sets, the west-facing cliffs radiate a beautiful rusty glow, captivating everyone who sees it. The skies above the cliffs are sometimes graced by the presence of the bearded vulture, one of South Africa’s most endangered birds. This clever creature has learned to crack open bones by dropping them from great heights. Talk about smart!

These mighty mountains are not only a sight to behold, but they also play a vital role in providing water for the country. They are responsible for 50 percent of South Africa’s water supply and serve as the source of both the Vaal and Orange rivers. Whether you head towards Fouriesburg, Lesotho, Golden Gate, or Bethlehem, the farmlands and towering peaks will leave you in awe. That’s why I always find myself drawn to the mountains of Clarens. With each visit, they never fail to impress.

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Why Clarens is the perfect weekend escape

One of my favorite farm stays in the area is Fairview Estates. When I look out from the stoep at Twin Towers, the view is absolutely breathtaking.

Let’s plan your trip

Getting there

Google Maps might suggest going through Bethlehem, but I personally recommend taking the more scenic route. Not only is it more enjoyable, but there are also fewer potholes. If you’re coming from Joburg, take the N3 south to Harrismith and exit into town. Join the N5 briefly and then make a left onto the R74. Afterward, take a right turn onto the R712 and continue driving for 70 kilometers until you reach Golden Gate National Park. Once you pass through the park, it’s just a smooth 20-kilometer drive to the village.

Here’s what you can do

If you want to explore the area, I highly recommend taking a walk in the Clarens Village Conservancy. This beautiful conservancy surrounds the town and offers various trails that range from half an hour to three hours. You can get maps for R25 from Highland Coffee Roastery on the village square. For more information, you can call 0603071489 or visit clarensvillageconservancy.org.

Want to go hiking in Golden Gate National Park? You’re in luck! There are seven well-marked trails for you to choose from, ranging from a quick 45-minute stroll to a more leisurely four-hour trek. If you’re staying at the Glen Reenen Rest Camp, most of these trails start right from there. But if you’re staying at the Golden Gate Hotel, don’t worry, there’s one trail that starts right behind the hotel. These trails will take you up and down the stunning orange sandstone cliffs, through lush forested ravines, and even across windswept grasslands. Just remember that there is a conservation fee of R40 for adults and R20 for children. Make sure to give them a call at 0582551000 or visit sanparks.org to get all the details!

Fancy exploring the Motouleng Caves? These caves are an interesting and special place, so it’s important to dress appropriately when you visit. To be respectful, it’s recommended to cover up and be mindful of the sacredness of the ground you’re walking on. For a half-day tour of the caves, the price is R350 per person. You can contact them at 0582561260 or visit clarensxtreme.co.za for more information.

How about a lovely picnic at De Molen Farm? This farm, located just seven kilometers from Clarens, is the perfect spot for a relaxing picnic. Bring your own picnic basket and find a cozy spot on the banks of the tranquil Little Caledon River. The best part? It’s absolutely free! For more details, you can reach out to them at 0582561096 or visit demolenfarm.co.za. Enjoy your day out!

Ready for an adventurous day? Drive up to the Vulture Hide inside Golden Gate National Park. Trust me, you won’t regret it! This spot is located at one of the highest points in the park, offering breathtaking views over the Drakensberg. Keep your eyes open for the magnificent bearded vulture, and you might even catch a glimpse of black-backed jackals. Entry is just R40 per adult and R20 per child. Give them a call at 0582551000 or visit sanparks.org to know more.

If you’re up for some cycling action, hop on a mountain bike and explore the slopes around the village. Clarens Xtreme has got you covered with exclusive access to trails on nearby farms and conservancies. They’ll even give you a map with the very best routes, ranging from 11 to 40 kilometers. Rent a bike for a half-day for R250 or go all out with a full day for R350. Don’t miss out! Contact Clarens Xtreme at 0582561260 or visit clarensxtreme.co.za for further details.

Looking for a place to stay?

Ridge Road Country House is a fancy farmhouse with a French touch. It sits up high on a ridge made of sandstone, giving you a great view of a stream and a small dam. It’s located about nine kilometers away from the town of Clarens. The house is surrounded by 28 hectares of native grassland, making it a perfect place to escape to the country. Inside, there are six bedrooms that can accommodate up to twelve people. All the beds have crisp, white linen made of 100% cotton. They also come with electric blankets and wall heaters to keep you warm. If you prefer a more modern feel, there’s a newly built cottage nearby that can sleep six people. The house costs R5500 per night on weekends, and on weekdays, it’s R600 per person. But remember, you need a minimum of four people per night or you can choose to pay a fixed price of R2400. If this sounds like the getaway you’ve been dreaming of, head over to wheretostay.co.za to book your stay.

I absolutely adored Lexi’s Quirky Cottage at Roodepoort Farm. It’s one of the four amazing places you can stay at, and let me tell you, the views from the bathtub are incredible! You can see right down the valley through these huge glass windows. It’s such a unique experience.

The cottage itself is perfect for two people and has everything you need for a self-catering stay. It’s about 15 kilometers from Clarens, and don’t worry, the dirt road is totally fine for regular cars. Plus, they even had complimentary rusks waiting for us! The price is R400 per person, but you do have to stay for at least two nights. Trust me, it’s worth it. You can book it on airbnb.com/rooms/8263054.

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Another great option is Fairview Estates. It’s a bit further from Clarens, but honestly, it’s one of my favorite farmstays in the whole area. They have two different accommodations to choose from. The first is called Twin Towers, and it’s an old grain silo that’s been converted into a cozy little place. From there, you can look out at the alpacas grazing nearby. How cool is that?

The other option is Damn Caravan, a four-person “park home” that’s situated right next to a beautiful dam. The decor in both of these places is absolutely stunning, and the prices are really reasonable. Twin Towers is R380 per person, and Damn Caravan is R350 per person. Keep in mind that there is a minimum stay requirement of R1520 per night. You can give them a call at 0823775222 or visit their website at fairviewestates.co.za to book.

Now, let’s talk about food! When it comes to eating in Clarens, there are so many great options. Here are a few places that I highly recommend checking out:

– Cafe X: This cozy cafe is the perfect spot for a delicious breakfast or lunch. They have a great selection of sandwiches, salads, and pastries. Plus, the atmosphere is super cute!

– The Courtyard: If you’re in the mood for some mouthwatering pizza, this is the place to go. They have a wood-fired oven that gives the pizza that perfect crispy crust. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

– The Highlander Restaurant: This is the spot for a fancy dinner. They have a diverse menu with options like steak, seafood, and vegetarian dishes. The food is top-notch, and the service is excellent.

These are just a few of the amazing places to eat in Clarens. Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a fancy meal, you’ll find something that delights your taste buds. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed!

Hey there! Let’s talk about some amazing places to grab a bite in Clarens. I’ve got a couple of spots in mind that you’ll definitely love.

First up, we have Highland Coffee Roastery. They have this incredible espresso blend that always leaves me wanting more. You can even see the green coffee beans right on the counter! And the best part? A delicious filter coffee will only cost you R14. They also serve cake and flavored lattes. Personally, I can’t resist their spicy-gingerbread latte for R22. It’s absolutely divine. Check them out at 0582561136 or highlandcoffeeroastery.co.za.

Next on the list is Clarens Brewery. They serve up fantastic German-style food that will have your taste buds dancing. My go-to order is the sausage bowl for R70. It comes with a variety of relishes and freshly baked bread from the bakery at the bottom of town. Plus, you can’t miss their hazelnut- and vanilla-infused malt drinks. The tasters are free, so make sure to try them all and find your favorite. To get in touch, give them a call at 0582561193 or visit clarensbrewery.co.za.

Lastly, we have Mosaic Pizzeria. If you’re craving some delicious pizza that won’t break the bank, this is the place to go. They offer affordable options, with a large pizza costing around R75. And if you’re in the mood for a warm treat, they also serve good glühwein. I highly recommend their vegetarian melanzane for R70, too. Craving some now? Give them a call at 0582561884.

If you’re in search of delicious Portuguese food and a wide selection of wines, look no further than Gosto. This hidden gem has been satisfying taste buds for a few years now, and it never fails to impress. Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty main dish or a glass of exquisite wine, Gosto has got you covered. Their mains start at R110, making it a great spot for a satisfying meal. Give them a call at 0767928189 or visit their website at patchamplace.co.za to make a reservation.

If you’re looking to treat yourself to a memorable dining experience, Clementines is the place to be. Locals rave about this restaurant, and it’s not hard to see why. With its excellent online reviews, Clementines has become the go-to spot for indulgence. Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply craving a delicious dinner, Clementines is sure to deliver. Their mains start at R90, providing both quality and affordability. Give them a call at 0582561616 or visit their website at clementines.co.za to make a reservation.

If you’re seeking a charming and affordable dining experience, look no further than Bon Appetit Deli & Bistro. Located across from the sandstone church, this hidden gem is tucked away in a lovely garden setting. Not only does Bon Appetit serve up an affordable breakfast (with nothing over R60), but it also offers a selection of fresh ingredients for sale. From fresh eggs to butter and cheese, you can stock up on all your culinary needs right here. For a delightful breakfast or to purchase quality ingredients, give them a call at 0798731318 or find them on Facebook.

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