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Clarens might be a quiet, little town from the outside, but not-so-deep beneath the surface lies a lot to offer for explorers and/or adventure-seeking adrenaline-junkies. Whether it’s taking a hike through the surrounding Maluti Mountains or getting the ultimate thrill that is skydiving, it’s all up for the taking when you come and visit Clarens.

White River Rafting

Considered to be one of the best white rafting experiences in the country, the Ash River just outside of town provides one of the most intense sensory thrills imaginable. Its white-water rapids and striking scenery, and birdlife makes it a must-do for anyone who considers themselves an adrenaline seeker. There are several establishments in and around town that offer half-and full full-day trips of rafting so take your pick! Plan thoroughly because bookings are essential.

Hot Air Ballooning

Experience the magic of lighter-than-air flight over the mystic Maluti Mountains which serve as shelter from winds and ensuring good flying weather on most days. Relaxing, yet thrilling, a hot air balloon ride is the type of thing that has to be done at least once by everybody. Enjoy breathtaking sunrise views, exquisite scenery, and perhaps even a glimpse of wildlife, if you’re lucky, from a whole nother level – literally.


Arguably the ultimate thrill and a firm favourite on many people’s bucket lists, skydiving in Clarens provides another dynamic to the daring activity. Taking in the Clarens beauty from 10000 ft and counting (backwards) is an experience like no other. Make sure you book a drop with Sky Adventures next time you’re in town.

Trail hiking

They say that hiking is nature’s therapy, and if that’s the case, there are more than enough ‘therapists’ to go around in Clarens. With trails ranging from short and easy to hikes with a high degree of difficulty, there is something for everyone, no matter your experience level. For a comprehensive take on the routes and trails on offer in Clarens, take a look here.


Ziplining is undoubtedly one of the world’s most exciting passtimes, and the easiest and safest way to seek adventure. Enjoy the unique activity of sliding on a steel cable from tree to tree while enjoying a different view of the landscapes around Clarens. This adventure in the sky is a must for parents seeking a thrill for their little ones, or even for themselves. If you want to make Ziplining a part of your trip to Clarens, get in contact with Clarens Xtreme today.

Why Choose Clarens as Your Next Perfect Weekend Escape

Clarens has it all: a cosy village atmosphere, great farm stays, and picturesque mountains and landscape views.

It’s no surprise that Clarens has become a popular choice for weekend getaways amongst city-living folk in recent years. Just a 3 hour’s drive from major metropolitans, Johannesburg and Durban, and an even shorter trip from Bloemfontein, there is little excuse not to pack up and travel there for a weekend break.

Known (and verified by the high number of galleries) as an artists’ haven, the real charm of Clarens is that there are no franchises or big outlets. The closest Wimpy, Woolworths and 1-Stop are all 40 kilometres away in Bethlehem ‒ just the way it should be. Every establishment is owner-run. No restaurant is replicated elsewhere in the country; the stores are small, unique boutique outlets and, except for the Protea Hotel, so are the accommodation options.

So Much to Do

For a small town, there is no shortage of entertainment and things to keep yourself occupied with. The extraordinary mountain setting and Ash river running by, make for great hiking and mountain biking trails.

The aforementioned art galleries will keep the art-lover occupied for hours on end while the Basotho Cultural Village and Golden Gate National Park serve as great choices if you would like to get your culture on. For the adventurers, there is a multitude of adrenalin-filled activities such as skydiving, quad biking, paintball, and even some of the best white-water rafting that the country has to offer.


Clarens is every shopaholic’s dream. You will find everything from pottery, leather goods, curios, rugs, furniture, vintage clothing, and antiques to a shop specialising in homemade teddy bears. You will also find exciting delis with locally produced goods, a cheese shop, and a bakery with home-baked goods like Chelsea buns for snacks on-the-go.

Best Town to eat

Most, if not all, of the establishments in Clarens, are owner-run and the extra attention to detail in preparation can be tasted in every bite – something that has become a lost art in most places in the cities. Some of the most popular Clarens eateries include Clementine’s, Clarens Brewery, Bon Appetit Deli and Bistro, and the Highland Coffee Roastery if you would like to get your caffeine kick.

Beer Festival

If you really need an excuse to visit the town for a weekend, perhaps the Clarens Craft Beer Festival will win you over. Taking place annually since 2011, the festival attracts more than 20 of the top breweries in the country, strutting their stuff, not to mention over 7000 festivalgoers from all over to enjoy the brews that are on offer.

10 Greatest Places in Clarens

For a small town, Clarens punches far above its weight in terms of things to do, places to see, and people to visit. With the immense amount of attractions in Clarens, it can be difficult for visitors to the quaint town to decide on what to pass by.

We know that the struggle can be real. We, therefore, have compiled this list of the overall 10 best things to do in Clarens when you have a limited amount of time available, in an attempt to lessen any indecision or frustration and avoid any dreaded FOMO.

So, without any further ado and in no particular order:

  1. Clarens Brewery

Many would say that the Clarens Brewery serves happiness on tap, which it definitely does, but there is so much more to the brewery than just that. Whether you’re a beer lover or not, Clarens Brewery is a worthy contender for a pit-stop to get a taste for the Maluti brew or to recharge with a scrumptious bite from the German menu makes for a worthy stop on its own.

  1. Clementines Restaurant

The well-known red and green corrugated iron building is basically synonymous with the town itself. The menu is kept relatively simple and but by no means does the food lack in quality. The rustic setting ensures a relaxed atmosphere and delightful overall experience. The small pub will make you feel at home, and the Clarens Brewery selection is an added bonus.

  1. Bibliophile Bookshop

A reader’s haven is the small red, and also corrugated, shop that is Bibliophile. What it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in character. The bookshop well equipped with all types and genres of books and no reader will be left un unfulfilled upon exiting the charming shop. Even f you haven’t picked up a book in years, Bibliophile will make you want to change that fact ASAP.

  1. Clarens Extreme

Everyone can use a little adventure once in a while. If you have a day to spare, a quick trip to the Clarens Extreme Adventures in town should be on the cards. The holding offers a range of activities that range from paintball, quad bikes, ziplining, and even white river rafting, making it the place to visit when you’re looking for a rush.

  1. Basotho Cultural Village

The Cultural Village takes you for a walk down the pathway of time. It is here where the lifestyle and architecture of the South Sotho are accurately depicted from the sixteenth century to the dramatically colourful present.

Far removed from the hustle and bustle of everyday city life, even that of the small town of Clarens, the Village gives visitors a holistic understanding of the rich history of this area. Guests are immersed in the culture of day-to-day village life as actors, dressed in traditional garb, carry out the daily activities associated with the local inhabitants of just such a village of yesteryear.

  1. Highland Coffee Roastery

Many of us enjoy our daily cup, or several, of coffee without giving its origin or where it comes from a second thought. Did you know that a coffee bean is actually a seed that comes from a specific type of berry, technically making it a fruit? Well, you do now. Who knows what else you might pick up when you stop by for the best brew that Clarens has to offer?

  1. Art Gallery Hopping

There is no shortage of well-established art galleries in Clarens. Ranging from contemporary to obscure, the town that is known as an artist’s haven does its alias more than justice. Situated in a relatively short distance from one another, it makes for an easy and relaxing walk to visit most of the galleries.

  1. Dinosaur Tour

Clarens is home to one of the few dinosaur tours that South Africa has to offer and is the perfect outing for anyone who would like to learn more about the majestic creatures that once roamed not only the earth but South Africa. The tour provides a thorough palaeontological history as well as geological insights, not forgetting examples of fossils to be seen as well.

  1. Motouleng Sacred Caves

The Motouleng Caves, buried in the heart of the Free State, are a spiritual sanctuary where African Spiritual leaders come to worship, consult, and practice healing. People of all religions are welcome at this sacred site. You’ll find practitioners of traditional African religions praying and performing rituals alongside Christian ministers. People dance, sing, and make offerings to appease the ancient ancestors. As the caves are considered to be sacred, be sure to dress appropriately when you visit.

  1. Golden Gate National Park

At the foot of Lesotho’s Maluti Mountains, the Golden Gate Highlands National Park will literally leave you high with inspiration with endless horizons, overlooking the vast beauty that is South Africa.

Loved for its unusual scenery and renowned for its golden aura as the sun lights up the sandstone cliffs and outcrops, the Golden Gate Highlands National Park is the ideal escape if you long to stretch your legs, breathe the fresh mountain air and let nature lift up your soul.

The Top 10 Attractions in the Midlands Making Your Way to Clarens

With interprovincial borders open once again, Clarens visitors who make their way from the South Coast (Durban and surrounds) can expect to be treated to the pristine and magnificence of the Midlands Meander that will be sure to leave an everlasting impression on you.

The summer landscape of the Kwa-Zulu Natal midlands closely resembles that of Northern Europe, and visitors are treated with one of the country’s most picturesque views of the natural beauty and green pastures the various routes has to offer.

From One Scenic Setting to Another

In many ways, the Midlands Meander can set the tone for what you can anticipate in our little town of Clarens. Travellers are met with a quaint ambience throughout their trip, with a backdrop of some of the most beautiful sights you’ll see in the country, easily making one forget of the 4-hour drive that you’re on – and that’s not even getting to the selection of attractions along the way.

With the Meander and its 5 routes starting as far back as Pietermaritzburg, there’s a host of worthy attractions that explorers can stop by, but it can be hard to decide on what to stop by and what to leave for travellers on a limited timeframe and budget. We share our top 10 attractions throughout the Midlands and Clarens.

  1. Mandela Capture Monument.

The very spot where apartheid forces captured president Nelson Mandela, has been turned into a historical landmark with a sculpture like no other. At a distance, 50 uniquely shaped 10-feet columns make up a sombre image of our international icon.

About the artwork, its creator, artist Marco Cianfanelli, says: “This represents the momentum gained in the struggle through the symbolic of Mandela’s capture. The 50 columns represent the 50 years since his capture, but they also suggest the idea of many making the whole; of solidarity. It points to an irony as the political act of Mandela’s incarceration cemented his status as an icon of struggle, which helped ferment the groundswell of resistance, solidarity and uprising, bringing about political change and democracy.” This monument is something that needs to be seen in-person, as very few pictures will do its magnificence any justice.

  1. Chocolate Heaven

Everyone probably has their own idea of what heaven looks like, and we’d guess that Chocolate Heaven would be the depiction of it for many. Chocolate Heaven is a little shop situated in Nottingham that is solely dedicated to the decadence that is chocolate. Taste and shop the produce of one of the best chocolate makers in the country or book the one-of-kind Dippingz® Experience – where chocolate fights, painting, and making a mess (with chocolate) is the order of the day.

  1. Vineyards & Wine Tasting

Yup… you read correctly. The Western Cape isn’t the only province in South Africa with prestigious wine farms. Some of the best wine producers in the country hail from the Kwa-Zulu Natal Midlands.

The Abingdon and Highgate Wine Estates in Lions River are two of the most renowned wines to come out of the Midlands and even South Africa. With activities including wine tastings, pre-packed picnics, wine do’s and don’ts workshops, as well as wine tours that explain the process from grape to bottle, there’s more than enough to satisfy the wine-lover in you.

  1. Fly Fishing

If you’re itching to curb your fishing and fly fishing yearnings before you make your way to Clarens, you’re spoilt for choice in the Midlands on the way here. With some of the most popular fishing spots in the country which includes, Fordoun, Hartford House, and Caversham Mill.

  1. Karkloof Farmer’s Market

If you happen to be travelling on a Saturday, the Karkloof Farmer’s Market is a must-visit in our opinion. Fresh fruit and vegetables, home-baked treats, and other organic products are on offer at the market and its numerous stalls. Set to operate again sometime soon following the COVID-19 pandemic, the market supports the local farmers in the area. It will be open every Saturday if you want to treat yourself to some locally produced goodness.

  1. Swissland Cheese/ Marakesh Cheese

If you’re a cheese lover, a stop at Swissland Cheese should definitely be on the agenda. The unique enterprise with its rich history as a pioneer for a new food culture in South Africa by introducing brie and camembert to the market. The farm produces multiple award-winning cheeses sure to satisfy your all of your cheese cravings.

  1. Get An Adrenaline Rush

For those who prefer the more adventurous side of life, there are plenty of adrenaline-filled stops along the way. Much like you’ll find here in Clarens, horse-riding, quad biking, mountain biking, and white river rafting opportunities are aplenty. For an unusual extra bit of adventure, Checkpoint 103 offers go-karting, zorbing, paintball, and bubble soccer for a unique experience.

  1. Howick Falls

At 111 metres high, Howick Falls situated on the Umgeni River is a sight to behold. The striking waterfall has become a popular tourist attraction in recent years, with a restaurant and markets stalls selling curios and other souvenirs. Known by the local Zulu people as ‘KwaNogqaza’, which means ‘Place of the Tall One’, local legend has it that the pool at the bottom of the falls is the residence of the Inkanyamba, a giant serpent-like creature.

  1. Ardmore Ceramics

Visit this unique gallery revealing vibrant and exquisite ceramics, beautifully hand-painted with unbelievable detail. Ardmore has succeeded at exhibiting African fauna and flora in a captivating way and has taken the overseas market by storm. African animals and plants wrap around vessels, cups and trays and are truly masterpieces.

  1. Beer Tasting at Nottingham Beer Brewery

Long before craft beers were “a thing” amongst hipsters and millennials, the Nottingham Beer Brewery has been producing an outstanding range of beers with the purest spring water drawn from an artesian well on the ground. Using only the finest quality hops and malted barley, beers of all kinds are created with exceptional character and well-rounded tastes. This charming brewery is a must-stop for any true beer-lover.

Activities On Your Holiday – Visit Clarens And Enjoy Family Fun

Interprovincial borders are open for travelling once again, and the Jewel of the Free State is eager to accommodate tourists and travellers to our beautiful towns.

Whether you’re in town for one of our numerous annual festivals, making Clarens a pitstop on a longer journey, or chose our town as your complete holiday destination, there are enough family-filled activities to go by and to keep everyone in the family entertained. Read down below to find out to make the most of your stay in Clarens.

Entertainment In Clarens For The Whole Family

If it’s adventure you want, you don’t need to look any further than CLARENSXTREME. The adventure zone is situated in town, and most of their offerings are available on-site. Between their white-water rafting, quad biking, ziplining, abseiling, paintball, archery, to name just a few, you won’t be left wondering what’s to do in Clarens. There are also less radical activities, kid-inclined, such as putt-putt, bungee-trampoline, and mountain biking.

Horse Riding 

One of the best ways to take in the beauty the unspoilt nature and vast open spaces of Clarens is on horseback. Between Bokpoort Guest Farm and the Golden Gate National Park, you’re spoilt for choice with the number of trails on offer. Whether you’re a novice or experienced rider, any of these places will accommodate you with the peace of mind of experienced guides. So, come and saddle up and forget about life for a while with horse-riding in Clarens, partner.

4×4 routes

For 4×4 enthusiasts, Clarens offers a number of quality and challenging 4×4 routes. Between the Rebellie Game Farm and Lesoba Guest Farm, you’ll have more than enough options that will be suited to your skill level – and the whole family can join!

Fly Fishing   

Feel like fishing? Well, you’re in luck because Clarens has a wide range of fly fishing opportunities available. From gurgling rivers to perfectly still dams, Clarens is a fly fisherman’s paradise. Enjoy the seclusion, picturesque landscapes and tranquil waters teeming with trout, bass, and indigenous yellowfish, fly-fishing in Clarens is the perfect way to reconnect with nature.

Clay pigeon shooting

Experience the thrill of an exploding clay disc when you and the family try out clay pigeon shooting at the Bokpoort Guest Farm. Young and old can enjoy this unique activity where no prior experience is necessary, nor is any athletic or fitness ability, just a good attitude and a desire to have fun!

Guided Hiking Tours in Clarens and Drakensberg

For many of us, hiking is one of life’s best simple pleasures. You pack a bag with water and snacks, and you forget about the world. And when you have the spectacular backdrop that is the Drakensberg, it makes it that much more enjoyable. Like most of the things on this list, there is plenty of choice in hiking trials to go and explore in Clarens.

Bibliophile Book Store

Image:, @pietwel


Widely regarded as the cutest bookshop in the country, a trip to Clarens wouldn’t be completed without a stop at Bibliophile. Whether you’re a bookworm or a non-reader, the small, red corrugated structure is inviting from a distance. The warm and cosy ambience welcomes you as soon as you enter and you might want to keep a tight hold on the credit card as it’s easy to get carried away with the selection of books in copious genres on offer…

Wild rides with quad biking

People from the big cities of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town escape the city life for a stay in the small picturesque town Clarens in the Free State. And why wouldn’t they since it’s only a few hours’ away from their main cities. Clarens is only three hours’ drive from Johannesburg and Bloemfontein and four hours from Durban.

Clarens is part of the scenic Highlands Route and is surrounded by mountainous splendor. The Rooiberge is the range encompassing the village, whilst further on towards the southeast, the mighty Maluti Mountains stands proud forming a backdrop which changes with the seasons, from shades of purple and blue in summer to the snow-clad slopes of winter.

It’s a place for shoppers, foodies, art and nature lovers and adrenaline junkies. And understandably so with a sport like quad biking, if you’re in the mood for easy going, non-strenuous physical activity.

Partake in the town’s sport of quad biking on the town’s main attractions its mountains. It’s a great way to see the scenic countryside of Clarens by following trails behind the majestic Maluti Mountains or quad bike riding with routes that follow the foothills of the Rooiberge.

Quad Biking trips range in length from one-and-a-half to two hours depending on the participants’ skills level. Choose between a technical ride, a game-viewing outride or just a leisurely sundowner trip. Some quad bike riding tours are for the nature lover while some can cater for those who’d like speed and do obstacles at a flying pace.

Wild Rides Quad Biking cater for novice to experienced quad bikers offering quad biking experiences in the Maluti mountains, only 10 km from Clarens.

Here’s a YouTube video of what quad biking in Clarens is like enjoy.

River Rafting in Clarens

Clarens, it may be a small picturesque town but it definitely packs a punch for its diminutive statue proving that dynamite comes in small packages. The town boasts some of the best extreme sports around like river rafting.

One of the many activities that the town specialises in and in what the town’s water is acclaimed for white water river rafting in the Ash River.

The Ash River is fed by the Trans Caledon Transfer Tunnel, which pumps water from the Katse Dam high up in the Maluti Mountains of Lesotho. The crystal clear water flows down the Ash River all the way to the Vaal Dam.

The Ash River in Clarens is a firm favourite among tourists because the water is always high. And tourists partake in the water sport of River Rafting in Clarens, which is best noted as having ‘exciting grade 3 and 4 white water rafting. And is a firm reminder as to why Clarens is considered the adventure capital of the Eastern Free State.

Participants get to experience the tranquility of nature and the excitement and thrill of white-water rapids. Every day all year round, because the water in the Ash River is not rain dependent.

Just practice with me now, sway from left to right. Then paddle by the river by day and camp on the river banks by night. But while river rafting do look out for action all the way with grade 2 and 3 rapids like “Car-wash”, “Alles-verloren-alles-gevonden”, don’t say you weren’t warned.

Outrageous Adventures

What’s a must in Clarens the outrageous adventures that you can get up to of course. Where else in South Africa are you going to get a chance to ski in the snow, go white water rafting, abseiling, horseback riding out in the wide open mountainous landscapes; try your hand at archery and quad bike in the mountains.

Outrageous Adventures offer outrageous adventures in various locations in South Africa. Experienced guides are always at the ready to ensure that you have an awesome adventure. Their Clarens based adventures include:

White water rafting Outrageous Adventures also raft in various other rivers like Orange River, Mkomazi River and Mzimvubu Transkei. Or raft on the Ash River in Clarens a firm favourite among tourists.

Who partake in what the town’s water is acclaimed for, White water rafting in the crystal clear waters of the Ash River best noted as having ‘exciting grade 3 and 4 white water rafting.

Experience the tranquility of nature and the excitement and thrill of white-water rapids. Every day all year round, because the water in the Ash River is always high and not rain dependent. Visit Outrageous adventures website to understand why through a viewing of a few photos.

How better to show you the excitement and thrill of their white water rafting, than with a few photos. After all, a photo is worth a thousand words.

Outrageous Tours provide excitement and adventure ranging from mild to wild with activities that also include Abseiling. Outrageous adventures also specialises in 5-day Youth camps for children from 14-18 years.

Activities include:

  • Archery
  • Abseiling
  • River rafting
  • Walking trails
  • Kettie-Paintball
  • Orienteering and map reading
  • Raft building
  • Conquering Mount Horeb
  • Walk to Fertility Cave
  • Art
  • Climbing skills and techniques
  • Horse riding
  • Visit to Basotho Cultural Village

The above activities can also be included in tailor-made corporate getaways, team-building events and conferences with an adventurous edge. At Outrageous Adventures, it’s also free trips, specials and more.