Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but if you really want to impress the special traveller in your life, look no further than “the jewel of the Free State” – the SA bucket list town of Clarens.
Nestled snugly in the foothills of the dramatic Maluti mountains. Clarens is a quaint haven of golden sandstone buildings and bountiful trees, and a place of great interest for arty and foodie types. Get in touch with your creative side and browse the art studios, galleries and craft shops. Seemingly this artistic flair is not new to the area – even ancient rock paintings may be seen at Schaapplaats Farm and Kiara Lodge.

But don’t just picture yourself serenely critiquing artworks, sporting a beret or cravat – because Clarens also has a wonderfully wild side! White water rafting, abseiling, quad biking, archery and mountain bike (MTB) trails are all waiting for you! The picturesque town is 20km away from the glowing cliff formations of the Golden Gate National Park, where herds of zebra roam and where you can hike, horse ride and visit the Basotho Cultural Village. It is also one of the country’s top spots for trout fishing if you are angling for more fun. Fresh air made you peckish? Sugar and Cinnamon Restaurant is a great stop for pancakes on the way back to town from the Park. Another popular Clarens foodie stop is Clementine’s, housed in what was once a SA Railways bus service maintenance shed, now hard to miss with its colourful red façade and green roof. Take your brus to the Clarens Brewery for some beer, cider and gin tasting, and delicious platters to match.

And say cheese at Baris Monger – because you’ll be smiling when you leave! The love lavished on their Saanen goats result in the superb 100% goats milk cheeses on offer: Vliedermaus (named after their Staffordshire terrier), Feta, Brie, Halloumi, Baris Tomme, Camembert and of course, Chevre. A few hours’ drive from Johannesburg and Durban, Clarens is a naturally beautiful blend of art and adventure, just waiting to be explored.