South Africa - The Maloti Mountains Drive September 2nd, 2014
South Africa - The Maloti Mountains Drive
Some of the most stunning scenery in South Africa can be seen in the eastern part of the Free State, along the border with Lesotho. When you take the Maloti Mountains Drive, you will see spectacular sandstone formations that rival those of Monument Valley in the western USA. With the varying sunlight, the rock appears gold, yellow, pink, gray and brown. There are stands of tall Lombardy poplars and bushy gray poplars. In spring and summer the fields are green with wheat and corn, but are an earthy brown in the winter. You will cross and re-cross the Klein (Little) Caledon River several times. On your left you will see the often snow-capped Maloti Mountains of Lesotho.
Golden Gate Highlands National Park
Your drive begins in Golden Gate Highlands National Park, the only nature reserve in the Free State. This park is wedged between the north-western edge of the province of KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho. The magnificent scenery begins with the majestic sandstone cliffs to your left and right as you drive out of the park. Eleven miles (18 km) along the R712 highway, you come to the little town of Clarens. This community was named after the town in Switzerland where Paul Kruger, the greatest Afrikaaner hero of South Africa, died in exile in 1904. Situated among low rolling hills, Clarens has become a popular tourist destination. People come here for the art galleries, great restaurants, bars and shops. There is a tourist information centre called Clarens Destinations on the town square. Stop in there if you want to arrange a side trip to Schaapplaats, a short drive down a gravel road, to see San rock paintings.
Fascinating Ancient Art: Please Tip the Guide
Your side trip to the farm at Schaapplaats is only about a ten minute drive. There, a guide will take you on a short walk up a valley to a large overhanging cave. Inside, you can view intriguing rock paintings, some of which are thousands of years old. They depict antelope, and strange beast-headed shamans wrapped in animal skins. This is an amazing encounter with human pre-history in South Africa. Be sure to give the guide a reasonable gratuity.
Remembering the Boer War
When you return to the main highway, you will be on the R711. Turn left and you will be heading for Fouriesburg. At about the halfway point, you will come to Surrender Hill. A bronze plaque marks this as an important site in the history of South Africa. It was here in July of 1900 during the Boer War (now called the South African War) that a large force of Boer soldiers surrendered to the British; a major setback for the Boer cause. A little farther on, an observation point provides a magnificent view of the Little Caledon Valley, with the Maloti Mountains and Lesotho beyond.
Continue your drive through the lovely South African countryside to the pretty community of Fouriesburg, about 22 miles (36 km) from Clarens. This typical Free State small town is a great place to stop for lunch and take a local tour. Several of the buildings are made from the local golden brown sandstone. Visitors looking for unique South African souvenirs can check out the Matsoho Arts and Crafts. The Maloti Mountains Drive is a good half-day tour.
Article Courtesy Of: goarticles.com
Author: Rachel Hill
About the Author
Rachel Hill is a Southern Africa Travel specialist, a company specialising in luxury, tailor-made South Africa holidays, as well as holidays to other destinations in Southern Africa. Our experienced consultants will help you design your very own luxury South Africa holiday, and will be happy to provide you with a free quote.