Table of Contents:

  • Driving Around;
  • Self drive routes – Ash River route;
  • A great time of the year for hiking;
  • The butterflies are back;
  • Clarens Skies –  Phoenix;
  • Plant of the week:  Zantedeschia albomaculata;
  • The Twitcher;
  • Other Events;
  • Classifieds;
  • Not on the mailing list?

White_Water Raafting on the Ash River Clarens

Driving Around

The best way to explore the Ash river from Clarens is undoubtedly to go by River Raft. (Read about White Water rafting on the Clarens News website Adventure Page :  White Water Rafting.) Alternatively, you can access parts of the river by road.   Read Mary Walker’s description of the route we took this week.  Highly recommended to visitors looking for something less strenuous to do.


Self drive routes from Clarens – Ash River route

Self-drive from Clarens Ash river loop map


Self-drive from Clarens Ash River Outfall








A short distance from the village of Clarens is the Ash River Outfall.  The word ‘outfall’ refers to water being ejected from an underground tunnel into a weir before it flows into the Ash River.  Clarens was well known during the nineties for the part it played in the Lesotho Highlands Water Project, and the Ash River Outfall bears testimony to the project’s ultimate success.  A self-drive tour of this area will provide you with a fascinating couple of hours of splendid vistas as well as access to the visual legacy of this acclaimed engineering project.  In addition, you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of white water rafters bouncing down the rapids.  Leave Clarens on the main tarred road north towards Bethlehem, route R712 (on some maps R711).  On the left, just before the majestic Titanic Rock, you will see the Maluti Mountain Lodge, which was the favoured “watering hole” of tired construction engineers during the nineties.  As you rise out of the valley over the Naauwpoort Nek, the Free State farmlands stretch before you, framed on the right by an imposing flank of Mount Horeb running away to the north east.  Further on are some examples of free-standing sandstone rock formations, so typical of the Eastern Free State landscape.  Read more



A great time of the year for hiking

This is a great time of the year for hiking – especially early in the morning or in the late afternoon during the cooler hours of the day.   There are excellent hiking trails in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve, within easy access of the town.  Hiking in the nature reserve is free, and the trails are well marked. Some of the trails are easy enough to suit even young children, whilst there are also more challenging trails for those in search of adventure.   Maps of the trails are available from the Clarens Village Grocer, the Old Stone Bottle Store, Bibliophile, Mountain Odyssey and Maluti Tours.  You should also look out for the Clarens News Plant of the week column  (written by head ranger Damien Coulson) which looks at the various plants found in the reserve.   (You can access all these articles on our website) Should you wish to become a member of the Clarens Village Conservancy and support the excellent work done in the nature reserve.  Click here for your membership form.

Falko Bushke sent us an email from chilly Belgium.
Falko has uploaded some great information on hiking trails in the Golden Gate Highlands National Park on his website:  The Solitary Ecologist.

Falko has given Clarens News permission to upload information to the Clarens News website:  I‘ll be grateful if as many people as possible have access to this information.

You’ll find more information on these trails as well as the many other hiking trails available in the area on the Clarens News website hiking page.

The butterflies are back

It’s also that time of the year when we are inundated by butterflies.  Craig Walters wrote Butterflies Flutter by for Clarens News exactly a year ago, and since our present editorial staff cannot come up with anything better… it is again.

Belenois aurota, photo by Avril de Montille

Butterflies Flutter by… Single minded things these flutterers flapping fecklessly by. Single minded and of a singular mind and direction. White, brown veined and photo shy. I have tiptoed through tulips and lain among the daisies armed myself with lensed cameras and hunted these connected petals for 2 days now, and when finally one deigned to alight on a flower in front of me, with the focus finally in and the lighting almost acceptable, the battery died… I can tell you that they are of a species called Belenois aurota aurota or otherwise brown veined white butterflies and there are reports of this migration from as far afield as Nairobi in Kenya. Apparently it is not a true migration as they do not return to their place of origin, but instead gun it on a one way mission to the beach, and beyond. Although the entire species seemed programmed on a Journey To the East, some few have been reported to exhibit Durban’s inherent craziness, and these fly against the flow, Westward Ho. Apparently the wind has nothing to do with their direction, and some of them have been reported in Madagascar, impressive since they apparently start in the Kalahari area… There is another species in Asia, but they aren’t this quality, despite being a lot cheaper. I will upload the one or 2 pics if  I manage to capture somein the next couple of hours, but in the meantime these links have some beautiful pics, especially 

See also


Clarens Skies –  Phoenix

Genevieve Blignaut


Constellation of the Week
Johann Bayer, a German lawyer and astronomer, depicted the modern constellation Phoenix, for the first time in 1603. The constellation was named after the mythical Greek creature, the Phoenix. These birds are said to have lived on aromatic herbs, the like of Frankincense, Myrrh and Cinnamon.

When the bird reached the critical age of 500 years, it set about to build a nest on the top of a palm tree using the mixture of aromatic herbs. Once the nest was built to the bird’s satisfaction, the Phoenix itself would set the nest alight. Shockingly the bird would die within the burning nest, but miraculously a young pheonix would appear from the ashes and continue to live its life cycle of 500 years.

 Read more

Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve

Plant of the week:  Zantedeschia albomaculata


DamienDamien Coulson

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a monocotyledonous species of the Araceae family that many of you may already be familiar with and could probably recognise growing in your own garden. Heck, many of you may have probably even planted it there intentionally!

Zantedeschia albomaculata  (the Arrow-leaved Arum in English; Witvlekvarkoor in Afrikaans and mothebe in Sesotho), is a deciduous plant that obtains an average height of 750 mm. It is usually found growing in moist or marshy soils or on moist rocky mountain slopes at altitudes of up to 2400 m A.S.L. Rather unusual is the fact that the so-called “petal” is actually a modified leaf called a spathe, in botanical terms. Minute male and female flowers are carried on one central column or spadix. 8 endemic species occur in S.A., of which 2 species have been recorded occurring in the Eastern Free State.  The word maculata means “spotted with white” or “white-spotted”.

The author has often observed small creatures stowed away in the relative safety of the spadix. These include but are not limited to the Arum-lily Frog and an assortment of bees, beetles and other such animals. This unusual little plant is widespread throughout S.A. all the way to Central Africa.   Read more


The Twitcher

I promised you birds last week, and birds you shall get.  Well, a few anyway.  First, the baby Ostriches over the Nek are not so little any more.  Half the height of their parents, they are looking positively adolescent and quite chubby, in the irritating way that adolescents have.  Point is that the Ostrich population in the immediate neighbourhood seems to have doubled overnight and, save a raid by the valley’s surviving jackals, may be competing with us for space on the Square.  And if they have R50 for a year’s trading licence and the phone number of the Dihlabeng Economic Development Forum, their presence is a certainty.
More parochially, I literally tripped over a Piet my Vrou in the garden last weekend, having never laid eyes on one before.  Like every other resident of Clarens, their call rings in my ears year-round, but for some reason I haven’t actually seen the little buggers before.  So, glass of wine in hand as I perambulated about my little corner of God’s green acre, I swung past a gum tree to confront the little fellow leaping about in search of food or some other social adventure.  I was with guests who masquerade as Twitchers in a neighbouring country of limited economic significance (just saying), and they brightened visibly at the sight of what was for them also a first sighting.  I have to say, as first times go, it didn’t rival my sexual debut a century ago, but was still rather satisfactory.  Read more

Other Events

Farmers Market: Be sure to visit the Farmer’s Market on Saturday. This is the place to buy fresh local produce, home baked goodies, and lots lots more.

Music lovers are in for a treat at the Bethlehem Kine on January 13, 2014:  wine, apperitifs and movie:  Behind the Candelabra : The Life of Liberace


Do you have a house you want to rent out?  Need a job? Want to try a totally different gastronomic experience.  Remember to check out the classifeds section.
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