Situated in the Eastern Free State, bordering on mountainous Lesotho, is Clarens. Proclaimed in 1912 it was named after the village in Switzerland where exiled President Kruger died. Clarens has been chronicled for many, many years as being one of the most beautiful places in South Africa, with clear skies – no pollution and cradled but not hemmed in, by friendly mountains. It even has its own special mountain rising above Clarens, originally called Setlofe (Setlofie) by the Basotho but renamed Mount Horeb by the early trekkers, in keeping with other biblical names in the area. Being composed of sandstone topped by basalt, the area was favoured by the early San people and there are a number of bushman painting sites. Going back aeons of years the prehistoric animals have left plenty of traces behind in the area.
The winters are brisk with temperature variations of roughly 20 degrees day and night, but the crisp champagne air of the sunny winter days make up for the frozen nights. It is doubtful if we have more than half a dozen consecutive very cold days in winter! Spring produces all the deciduous blossoms in the village and surrounding farms, and summer is never too hot, but warm as in a montane climate. Autumn has photographers flocking to enjoy the autumn shades, particularly the Lombardy poplars, planted by the early farming settlers - April and May are particularly good months for these visitors.
What can we offer? I admit to being prejudiced for recommending anything to do with the outdoors, although we are referred to as an Art Mecca, having 18 art galleries. There are wonderful hiking possibilities and outdoor pursuits are numerous - from white water rafting, canoeing, abseiling, and for the less adventurous, hiking, tours, mountain biking, tennis, riding and angling. At the beginning of 2007 a brilliantly designed 18-hole golf course was opened and set in our outstanding surroundings will be hard to beat for beauty anywhere in the country.
A healthy variety of restaurants abound in the village and nearby. Accommodation ranges from affordable simple country lodgings, many of which have been accredited by the Tourism Grading Council of South Africa, to very luxurious and special 5-star guest houses.