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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Free State towns


Botshabelo

Botshabelo

Botshabelo

Photo © Johan van Zyl

Botshabelo lies 45 km east of Bloemfontein. It started out as a squatter camp but developed into a large township. Today it is the second largest township in South Africa.

The name means 'place of refuge' and has attracted displaced people either through the Apartheid laws or those who weren't from the Tswana tribe when the area fell under the homeland of Bophuthatswana.

Botshabelo weather

BOTSHABELO WEATHER

Today it has a large industrial park producing food, clothing, chicken products and others. Those who can't find jobs in the town have to travel to Bloemfontein by rail or bus.

Botshabelo countryside

Above - Country side near Botshabelo

Photo © Johan van Zyl

References and further reading

On Route - A region by region guide to South Africa - Author: B.P.J. Erasmus - Year Published: 1995 - Page: 261

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Gariep Dam

View over Gariep Dam Town

Gariep Dam Town

Photo © Johan van Zyl

Many people are familiar with the massive Gariep Dam but are not so familiar with the town of the same name, also referred to as Gariep Dam Town or Gariepdam Town. While staying in the area it is worthwhile paying Gariep Dam Nature Reserve a visit.

The town has grown over the years and now not only caters for the tourist industry but is the hub for agriculture and other commercial activities in the area.

The town is well-known by those who enjoy the sport of gliding and a world record was set here for the furthest distance travelled by a glider. There is a small airport near town.

Gariep Dam weather

GARIEP DAM WEATHER

There are many accommodation options in the area including guest houses, BnB's, a hotel and more.

Hotel

Hotel in Gariep Dam Town

Photo © Johan van Zyl

References and further reading

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Swinburne

This bridge over the Wilge River was completed in 1884

The second oldest bridge in the Free State is in Swinburne

Photo © Steven Herbert

Swinburne is a tiny village just off the N3 highway. It is located between the towns of Van Reenen and Harrismith.

The bridge over the Wilge River in the town is the second oldest bridge in the Free State. It was completed in 1884.

Although Swinburne itself may not offer much in the way of facilities, the surrounding area is both beautiful and a great area for hiking and climbing.

Rensburgkop Mountain dominates the surrounding skyline and is popular with climbers and hikers.

References and further reading

Country Life - Issue 252 - Author: - Year Published: 2017 - Page: 7

On Route - A region by region guide to South Africa - Author: B.P.J. Erasmus - Year Published: 1995 - Page: 243

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Montrose

Montrose is situated in a very scenic area

Montrose

Photo © Steven Herbert

Montrose is situated on the N3 highway halfway between Durban and Johannesburg.

It is a tiny stopping place near the town of Swinburne.

There is a hotel at Montrose and a number of food outlets as well as a petrol station. There are also a number of farms offering accommodation in the area.

Montrose is situated in a very scenic area near Van Reenens pass.

References and further reading

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Warden

The town of Warden as seen while travelling south on the N3

Warden

Photo © Steven Herbert

Warden is a small town situated near the N3 highway between Harrismith and Villiers. A prominent feature of the town is the Dutch Reformed Church building which is visible from the highway.

Warden weather

WARDEN WEATHER

The town is built alongside the Cornelis River and there are some wetlands nearby. The area around Warden is an important farming area. Beef, potatoes and maize are produced.

Warden is apparently named after Charles Frederick Warden who was a landdrost of Harrismith which is just over 50 km away.

Wetlands north of Warden

Photo © Steven Herbert

Dutch Reformed Church

Photo © Steven Herbert

References and further reading

Conolly's Guide to Southern Africa - Author: Denis Conolly - Year Published: 1982 - Page: 338

Farm Stall to Farm Stall - Author: Jennifer Stern - Year Published: 2014 - Page: 129

On Route - A region by region guide to South Africa - Author: B.P.J. Erasmus - Year Published: 1995 - Page: 242

Southern Africa from the Highway - Author: AA RSA - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 71

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Villiers

The skyline of Villiers is dominated by a large grain silo

Photo © Steven Herbert

Villiers is a small town on the banks of the Vaal River. It straddles the N3 highway between Johannesburg and Durban. Heidelberg is 60 km away towards Johannesburg and Warden is 98 km away towards Harrismith.

The town of Villiers was proclaimed in 1891 at the site of a crossing over the Vaal River.

With the size of the grain silo at Villiers it is no surprise to hear that maize is widely farmed in the area. There are also a lot of cattle farms.

Villiers

Photo © Steven Herbert

References and further reading

Conolly's Guide to Southern Africa - Author: Denis Conolly - Year Published: 1982 - Page: 338

On Route - A region by region guide to South Africa - Author: B.P.J. Erasmus - Year Published: 1995 - Page: 241

Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to Southern Africa - 4th edition - Author: - Year Published: 1986 - Page: 308

Southern Africa from the Highway - Author: AA RSA - Year Published: 1991 - Page: 145

The Pictorial Motoring Atlas of South Africa - Author: Maxwell Leigh - Year Published: 1987 - Page: 106

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