Tag Archives: Hiking in Clarens

11th April, 2014: 257 Days until Christmas

Mzanzi Tour in Clarens

Table of Contents:

  • Festival of Dirt – Report Back;
  • Mzanzi Tour in Clarens;
  • Made in Clarens;
  • The Twitcher;
  • Female Entrepreneur Awards;
  • Community News: The great get-together;
  • Community News: News from Paphama Youth;
  • Travels with Beezus;
  • Travelground votes Clarens Amongst the Top Hiking Spots in South Africa;
  • Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve: Leonotis leonuris;
  • News from the Golf Estate:  Business league;
  • News from the Golf Estate: Friday competition;
  • Cluny Animal Trust Appeal;
  • The MTN Mountain Bike Race: How you can make it work for you;
  • It’s Easter:  Passiespele;
  • Church Services over the Easter weekend;
  • Easter Fleamarket;
  • Coming Events:  2nd May: Supper Theatre On the Square;
  • Coming Events: 3-4 May: National MTB in Clarens;
  • Coming Events: 31 May: Cluny Animal Trust  Golf Day;
  • It’s super rugby time again;
  • A quote to quote;
  • Not on the mailing list?

Mzansi Tour in Clarens

Mzansi Tour in ClarensIt’s certainly been quite a week for coming and going in Clarens.  The Festival of Dirt last weekend and then the Mzanzi Tour this week.  Clarens was abuzz with cyclists, road cars, motorbikes, cameramen, and of course bicycles.
This is the tour’s second year and going by the number of international riders, it seems to be all set to become The South African cycling event.
Thank you Mzansi for bringing the tour to Clarens.


Clarens Festival of Dirt

Clarens Festival of Dirt – Report back

The Festival of Dirt held their 3rd annual festival this past weekend with great success. Starting out of humble beginnings the 1st festival was held in October 2012 drawing but only 53 enduro riders, 24 Mountain Bikers and 3 Dual Sport Riders. This year we can boast with record numbers of more than 350 Enduro Riders, 100 Trail Runners, 40 Mountain bikers and about 30 Dual Sport riders.The weekend started off with some Super Enduro on the Friday afternoon with at least 50 participants. Saturday was of course the main event with the Enduro event as well as some rider training by pro rider Wild William Gillett. The Enduro event went off with minimal casualties and left the people raving about our coarse and majestic views of the country side. The Trail running event was also held on the Saturday morning in town from Mozziac Pizzeria. There was a 10km and 20km trail for the runners that looped through the wonderful Clarens Conservancy. People loved the trails and pure magic of the Clarens Mountains.The Sunday enduro mountain bike event was also held in town with the competitors craving for more. Everything went off without any hiccups and the Festival of Dirt will surely be back next year same time same place.Well done Clarens Xtreme…


Made in Clarens

Apple pressing in ClarensWe’ve long enjoyed the high quality range of beers and ciders on offer at The Clarens Brewery.  The range of award winning beers, bottled under the Clarens Brewery label are brewed at the brewery premises in  Market Street, and until recently the ciders were brewed out on Natalie and Stefan’s farm.  This turned out to be a bit of a logistic problem, and so now all the machinery has been moved to Sias Oosthuizen Street.  Read more





The Twitcher

Since Clarens is about to reel under the weight of public appetite for holiday weekends – yes, three on the trot lie ahead – I thought you might be interested to know that Christmas is only 257 short days away.  That’s right: Your turkey only has 36 weeks to live and you need all the practice you can get under the Mistletoe, so pucker up and start spreading love and contagion.   Just don’t let your partner catch you.

But to matters of the moment: Those of you who had the time and inclination would have witnessed 90 testosterone-loaded cyclists, from all points of the global compass, jostling to navigate their way around the Clarens square on Thursday, en route to exploring the Free State’s pot-hole collection.
Read more

Female Entrepreneur Awards

Hi All.

The National Department of Agriculture,Forestry & Fisheries is running the competition for women in different sectors of agriculture.As the Provincial Department of Agriculture & Rural Development we have been tasked to invite all interested female Entrepreneurs to take part in this competition.

Thabo Mofutsanyana District is inviting all Female Entrepreneurs to take part and represent our wonderful district in the Province.If they win in the Province then they will represent Free State Province in the National Competition.

Here are the Categories of the competition:


Closing date for entering the competition is 14 May 2014.All interested farmers can contact Mr Tsepiso Mosia and get forms at his office in Dihlabeng Municipal office in Clarens.
Good news is that Clarens is running for the hosting of the district event on 29 May 2014.Let us go for this challenge Clarens Farmers,remember Clarens is the unique town of WINNERS!!!
Hope to hear from you soon.

Tsepiso Mosia
Department of Agriculture & Rural Development FS
Phone: 0710791332
E-mail: mosiatsepiso@yahoo.com

Community News: The great get-together

Meeting of Clarens Organisations

A history-making meeting of the 4 Clarens Associations took place on Monday 7th April.
Pictured here are (clockwise): Tammy – CTF, Ollie – CTF, Malcolm – GCCC, Natalie – GCCC, Louw – CVC, Victor – CTF, Ralph (obscured) + Pat – CRA, Carl – GCCC, and Rodney – CVC.
With a team like this Clarens can only get stronger and stronger.  Well done everybody – we can see that Clarens in capable hands.

Community News: News from Paphama Youth

Paphama Youth Career Guidance

Travels with Beezus

It’s always interesting to read what people are writing about Clarens.  Cape info sent us the link to a delightful blog: Travels with Beezus.  Below is an excerpt from the blog. We can heartily recommend that you visit the blog and read some of the other interesting comments about Clarens. Click here


The Maloti Wonderland in the eastern Free State

Beezus' first road trip

The first question for the trek south from Johannesburg to Cape Town was where to stop first and what to explore.  Parys, on the banks of the Vaal River and just over an hour south of Joburg provided one option — it seems to be a town on the up — but a speedy yet not-terribly-helpful reply from the Parys Info office was discouraging.

So we settled on visiting Clarens in the Eastern Free State for the first time.  And… Wow!… we were not disappointed!

It’s about three hours out of Joburg (320km) taking the N3 toll road to Durban and then heading south on the R712 at Villiers and past Reitz and Bethlehem .  The roads were good and as one approaches Clarens the scenery is spectacular!  We left Joburg in pouring rain (which lead to flooding after we left) and arrived in a very  wet, lush and spectacularly green eastern Free State.

And while you’re surfing the net you should also take a look at http://jennafinch.blogspot.com/2014/04/postcards-from-clarens.html

Travelground votes Clarens as among the top 6 hiking spots in South Africa.

Hiking in Clarens

And if you’re not sure why – just take a look at the hiking page on our website, where you’ll find a comprehensive list of all the hikes available in our area.

This photograph was taken in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve. The trails in the reserve are well marked and there is a trail to suit every level of fitness.  Be sure to collect a trail map from Maluti Tours, Village Grocer, Bibliophile, or Mountain Odyssey.  The maps cost R10, and proceeds go towards the maintenance of the trails.






Plants found in the Clarens Village Nature Reserve:

Leonotis leonurus

Damien Coulson

Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “bi-Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at an attractive specimen of the Mint Family or Lamiaceae.
Leonotis leonurus (Wild dagga in English, Wildedagga in Afrikaans and lebake in Sesotho), is a shrub that typically grows to 2 – 3 m in height.Leonotis is derived from the Greek words Leon–“lion” and Otis -“ear”. Leonurus means “lion coloured” referring to the mane-like appearance and also colouring of the inflorescence. It is widespread throughout S.A – from the W Cape – Mpum., and tends to grow in grassland amongst rocky outcrops up to 2000 m A.S.L..
The specimen photographed was observed on the Kloof Mountain Trail. It is one of few plants adapted to growing on very shallow and nutrient poor lithic soils.  Read more

News from the Clarens Golf Estate: Business League

The Clarens Golf Estate will be playing host to numerous entrepreneurs and business owners hoping to proclaim themselves champions on the Golf Course. Currently Art & Wine and Sir Henry’s has entered teams. Mr Rob Donald will captain the third. Mike Henry is also in the process of getting his team together. If you feel confident that you would be able to commit to playing with a full team the last Wednesday of every month please let us know. Teams will have to have four players representing.The format will be Fourball Alliance: 2 Mystery Scores to Count. Single players, barbarians with no alliances, will be accommodated  monthly forming a rugged bunch of players looking to topple the more structured teams.

Current Teams entered: Art & Wine, Sir Henry’s, Management, Rob’s Team.
Starting the last Wednesday of April and spots are still open for more teams.
Special rates will apply for visiting players in your teams.
Please invite your friends and business partners to join in the fun!
Francois Schoeman
Golf Operations Manager

Clarens Golf Estate Business League

News from the Golf Estate: Friday competition

Clarens Golf Estate Friday Competition

New life in the Friday Competition,

On a weekly basis members, visitors, scholars and supporters gather for a Friday afternoon round at The Clarens Golf Estate. The Clarens Golf Estate is proud to have partnered with Ciglers Butchery in Bethlehem. They are generously sponsoring the prizes, and believe me the prizes are impressive!

Any golfer with a official handicap is welcome to join in the fun. With more players participating lately, growth is assured. The past two Friday’s has seen the competition run in conjunction with other events to boost participation and fun. Voortrekker High School played Jim Fouche High School in their inter Schools League, Voortrekker being victors. This week saw another local School, Jordania, defeat Fichardt Park Primary in their encounter. Parents, Teachers and supporters enjoyed the course and atmosphere as the “golfing bug” bit them hard.

The whole family is welcome even if they don’t participate, they will enjoy the atmosphere and fun after enjoying the spectacular views on course. Thank you Ciglers and all loyal supporters of The Clarens Golf Estate. (Francois Schoeman)

Cluny Animal Trust Appeal

The MTN Mountain Bike Race: How you can make it work for you

Organisers of MTN Mountain Bike Race have approached the Chamber of Commerce offering exclusivity of the water points needed on the two race days to businesses in Clarens.  This means that Clarens businesses have the opportunity to nab the huge exposure available at these water points, back from Bethlehem businesses.   This year more than 2000 cyclists are participating who will all see your brand.  What is needed is a gazebo (preferably branded), your branding such as banners, t-shirts, etc., 3-4 people and spirit.  You need to set up by 6.30 each day , it will be out on a farm road and the length of time will depend on the race route but will be no longer than 3 hours.  You will be provided with water, drinks, apples, bananas, banana bread and jelly babies to be handed to the athletes.  You will need to brush up your motivational phrases, bring your own good cheer and strong voices, and anything else to make your brand stand out and have fun.The race organisers need 4 water points.  Please respond to info@clarensbrewery.co.za if you want to grab one. Who knows – yours might feature on SuperSport?

The organisers also asked the Chamber to appeal to guest house & B&B owners to:

1 – offer an accommodation discount to the cyclists. (They realise this year falls on a long weekend but next year’s race has been moved to the weekend after the May long weekend)

2 – offer a discount if the cyclists skip breakfast on account of being out in the route

3 – be accommodating in a late check out if you have no guests booking in on the Sunday to allow the cyclists to have a shower after the race.

See upcoming events listed below.

It’s Easter!

Passiespele 2014: Bethlehem

Clarens Church Services over the Easter Weekend

Good Friday (18th April, 2014)
Methodist Church (cnr Bester and Roos Streets):  10h30
NGK (Main Street): Nagmaal: 9h30

Easter Sunday(20th April 2014)
Methodist Church (cnr. Bester and Roos Streets): 6h30 (Sunrise service)
NGK: Sonopsdiens at Methodist Church:  6h00
NGK: (Main Streer) Opstaandingsdiens: 9h30
Anglican Church (cnr. Bester and Roos Streets): 10h30
Dihlabeng Church: (Dihlabeng Primary School, Fouriesburg Road):  9h30

For more information for both Methodist and Anglican churches please contact Francois Brink (head of churches committee) on 083 769 5432.

Clarens Easter Flea market: 20th April, 2014

See you on the square for boerewors, skilpadjies, snoek, kerrie en rys en baie stalletjies wat versillende produkte gaan verkoop.  The Fleamarket is hosted by the NGK.  For further information 058 256 1341 or email: clarensngkerk@gmail.com

Coming Events: 2 May, 2014:
Supper Theatre On the Square:

Supper Theatre in Clarens

Phone Carol at Gosto’s for further details: 082 416 3687Click here to find out more about Cat Simoni

Coming Events: 3-4 May
National MTB in Clarens

MTB in Clarens

Click here For further information

Coming Events: 31 May 2014
Cluny Animal Trust Golf Day

Cluny Animal Trust Golf DayThe purpose of the event is to raise funds for the development of an animal hospital in Fouriesburg and the surrounding areas.


Animals are mans best friend, they are always there when we’re lonely, they never give up on us and share our joy and sadness

Contact Details: Jan Sander (c) 0782462553, (f) 058 223 0727 email: jansander22@gmail.com

It’s super rugby time again

Watch all the action at one of our local Clarens pubs (and if you want to watch it on a big screen go to Artichoke).  The atmosphere is great –   almost like being at the game!

Click here to see the April 2014 fixtures

A quote to quote:

“The Budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled,
public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be
tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be
curtailed, lest Rome will become bankrupt. People must again learn to work
instead of living on public assistance.” – Cicero, 55 BC

       So, evidently we haven’t learnt much over the past 2,068 years.

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14th February 2014: Happy Valentine’s Day

Mushroom rock Clarens

Table of Contents

Mushroom Rock;

This weekend: Happy Valentine’s Day;
Let the cameras roll – Feature film to be shot in Clarens;
Hosa Treasure Hike Competition;
Clarens Village Nature Reserve:  Plant of interest:  Ranunculus multifidus;
The Twitcher;
Other Community News;
The end of an era – Simon and Megan are saying goodbye;
This weekend:  Regional Festivals –  Rosendal Festival;
This weekend:  Regional Festivals –  Bieliemieliefees;
This week:  Gosto:  A Taste of Portugal;
This week:  Get the beer taste-buds going;
Next weekend –  The Clarens Craft Beer Festival !!!!;
More Coming Events –  Supper Theatre in Clarens;
It’s super rugby time again;
Not on the mailing list?


The landscape around Clarens abounds with mushroom rocks and the one photographed above can be clearly seen from the Clarens-Fouriesburg road.  (Stop at the St Fort turn off if you want to take a photograph.)   Hopefully, we will not become known as a town of mushrooms (ie people who are kept in the dark and fed on shit.)  But no need to worry, the editorial staff at  Clarens News will continue to keep you updated as to what is happening in and around Clarens with our newsletter (now going out every second week) as well as our facebook page. Then there’s always the website – which is continually updated and changed as we strive to build a website worthy of Clarens.  As to what’s happening in the rest of the world………well one sitting through any news bulletin shown on TV should not only keep you reasonably informed (even if you get the feeling that you’re being treated like a mushroom) but probably re-affirm why Clarens is such a special place.

This weekend: Happy Valentine’s Day

We can’t think of a more romantic destination than Clarens, and many of our Clarens restaurants are going the extra mile to make sure that this Valentine’s Day is specially romantic.

Restaurants with special Valentine’s Day menus:

278 On Main
The Courtyard
The Grouse & Claret
Cafe Xlent
The Millery @ The Base

Let the cameras roll – Feature film to be shot in Clarens

Bianca Isaac, film Producer based in Johannesburg. I am currently working on a feature film called:‘The Jakes Are Missing’, which she would love to set in Clarens. Since arriving here last year in search of the perfect location – I fell in love with Clarens immediately (and that was in winter:). It looks more beautiful every time I visit.
Bianca recently wrote to Accomodation owners in Clarens, giving details of the plot, and also outlining the Clarens community involvement in this project.   It seems that she is also going to need extras – and there are even some speaking parts up for grabs.   Click here to read her letter

HOSA Treasure Hike CompHiking Organisation of Southern Africaetition :

The Hiking Organisation of Southern Africa – HOSA – is running a fun event named TREASURE HIKE (based on the Geocaching concept), to be held for six (6) months – from  01 January to 30 June 2014.

For this kick-off project, only certain trails in South Africa will be involved. Only Green Flag Accredited trails, who are also HOSA member trails, will be participating. A list of these trails will appear on the HOSA website (www.hosavosa.co.za).  And guess what – two of these trails are right on our doorstep:  Cannibal at St Fort and Ribbok  in Golden Gate Highland Park. 
Read more

Clarens Village Nature Reserve:

 Plant of interest:  Ranunculus multifidus

Clarens Village Nature Reserve Rananculus multifidus Damien Coulson head ranger Clarens Village Nature Reserve
Damien Coulson
Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “bi-Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a wild flower that seems unremarkable, yet as always when dealing with nature – there’s always something of interest to be discovered.

Ranunculus multifidus (Common Buttercup in English, Botterblom in Afrikaans and hlapi in Sesotho), is an erect perennial herb that grows to around 150 – 300 mm in height, is commonly found in damp ground near streams or wetland areas at altitudes of up to 2900 m A.S.L., and is widespread throughout S.A. It should be noted that a dwarf variety (at just 70 mm) of these species can be found at the upper reach of its eco-band/altitude.

R. multifidus may or may not have hairy leaves. One could deduce that the hairy leaves function as to trap moisture thereby retarding desiccation. If so, it is more likely that one would observe the hairy variety at higher altitudes where moisture is harder to come by. The leaves are a bright green with 2 – 3 pairs of deeply divided leaflets with heavily toothed margins. The inflorescence is branched and stems are hollow. Solitary flowers may be observed on small plants. The flowers are 15 – 25 mm in diameter and the 5 petals are a glossy mustard/rich butter-yellow colour. Flowers October – early Feb.   Read more

The Twitcher

Wouldn’t you know it: Valentine’s Day has come around again, much the same time as last year.  And the year before that.  In fact, checking my old diaries, it seems to be a perennial feature of life in the romantic lane.  As a social phenomenon, it stretches back centuries and has attracted the interest and witticisms of many a writer, professional and amateur.  The key difference of course, is that the amateurs don’t get published much, but probably score more dividends than all the pros put together.
Aberjhani, author of The River of Winged Dreams, waxed lyrical about love, saying, “What a lover’s heart knows let no man’s brain dispute”.  This suggests that idiots can function just as well as academics, although there are generations of respectable ladies who would put their money on a romp with a car mechanic in preference to a professor of Ancient Greek.  Ah well.  The same erudite author ventured that “This is what our love is––a sacred pattern of unbroken unity sewn flawlessly invisible inside all other images, thoughts, smells, and sounds”.  Confusingly, this may be more reminiscent of the public loos of Clarens than an ode to love.   Read more

Other Community News

Clarens Pharmacy change in trading hours
Wednesdays pharmacy will close at 15h00
Sundays closed for emergencies call 084-700 8558.
We will only be open on the busy Sundays like with the beer festival, long weekends, harley weekend etc.

Bird Interest Group:  
Interested in being part of a Bird Interest Group?   Clarens News invites interested persons to contact us (editor@clarensnews.com) with their input and ideas.

Community Notice Board
Please note that we now have a Community bulletin Board on the website:  To view Click here

The end of an era – Simon and Megan are saying goodbye

Kerr family in Clarens

The Kerr family –  Simon, Megan, Melissa, Jenna and Cameron – are saying goodbye after 14 years in Clarens – and trekking back to Natal.  Fortunately, they won’t be totally out of touch, and their Clarens friends will be able to pop in and visit them whenever they are en route to Natal, especially once the road over Oliviershoek pass has been fixed.  (There are promises that the road repairs will be completed by 1st April – THIS YEAR!!!!)   Their new location known as The Phatt Chef @ The Border Post is sited where the Caterpillar and Catiish used to be.  Their B&B and restaurant will be open from mid-March onwards, and I can see many of us popping in to enjoy their special Sunday lunch buffet menu (even when we’re not en-route to Natal.)  Should you wish to contact Simon or Megan you can still use their existing cell phone numbers (Simon: 082 469 3832; Megan: 082 469 2072.  email: thephattchef@gmail.com)

Join Simon and Megan for a beer or a cider at the Clarens Brewery on Sunday 16th February from 13h30 onwards so that they can wish their friends goodbye, collect outstanding IOU’s and just generally have a good old time Clarens Sunday afternoon.  

This weekend:  Regional Festivals –  Rosendal Festival

Rosendal Festival

Click here for more information

This weekend:  Regional Festivals –  Bieliemieliefees


Bielemielie fees Reitz                     13 – 16 February 2014.  Reitz


For  more info:



This week:  Gosto:  A Taste of Portugal

Hot off the press:  The first Portuguese restaurant in Clarens opens next week, in time for the Beerfest!
Situated in the new On.The.Sauare centre at 328 Market Street, Gosto brings the real taste of Portugal to town.
Call Carol on 082 4163687 to book – and remember Super Theatre on March 7 and 8:  The Way we were with Cat Simoni in this fabulous Barbara Streisand show.

This week:  Get the beer taste-buds going

Clarens Craft Beer Food Pairing

Next weekend –  The Clarens Craft Beer Festival !!!!

News for locals: 
Tickets to the next week’s Craft Beer Festival are selling fast and to ensure that you have a chance to get yourselves some should you want to, we will be selling tickets at the Clarens Brewery on Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 Feb. Prices will be the same as on the web, R100 for a 1-day pass and R150 for a 2-day. Cash only, please.

Clarens Craft Beer Festival

Welcome to all the breweries:
Clarens is looking forward to welcoming all those breweries represented at this year’s beerfest: Copperlake Breweries, Robson’s, Chameleon Brewhouse, That Brewing Company, The Cockpit Brewhouse, Black Horse Brewery, De Garve, The Dog and Fig Brewery, Kaya Craft Beer, Mtunzini Brewery, Porcupine Quill Brewery Co., Smack Republic, Pale Ale, Brauhaus am Damm, Old Main Brewery.  And of course – Clarens Brewery will also be on the square over the beerfest weekend.On- line tickets:  Visit the Clarens Craft beerfest webpage.   

Entertainment:  The organisers have put together a fantastic musical line-up for the festival, and have been thoughtful enough to cater for non beer-drinking music lovers wanting to attend the festival simply to enjoy the music.   Should you fall into this group you can buy a “designated driver” ticket for only  R40.
Click here to see the program

Accommodation:  Accommodation in Clarens over that weekend has pretty much been booked, but there is still accommodation available nearby and a list is available on the Clarens Craft beerfest webpage. Should you have problems opening the page  –  click here 


More Coming Events –  Supper Theatre in Clarens

Clarens Theatre On The Square

For further details Click here

Have a look at the Clarens News website Coming Events page.

There’s always something to look forward to.  It may still be a couple of months away but you need to diarize the book launch on 21 March 2014:  Soweto Burning by local resident Don Emby.Sorry – no information on forthcoming cricket events in Clarens………but watch this space: it could be happening soon.  (Read the Twitcher in last week’s issue  to find out more.)

It’s super rugby time again

Watch all the action at one of our local Clarens pubs (and if you want to watch it on a big screen go to Artichoke).  The atmosphere is great –   almost like being at the game!


Do you have a house you want to rent out?  Need a job? (There’s a good job going at The Grouse and Claret at the moment).  Remember to check out the classifeds section.
Advertising on the classifieds section of Clarens News is free.  All you need to do is to email  your advert to:

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10th January 2014: Driving Around

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…..here 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 http://momsmeanderings.wordpress.com/2012/12/30/brown-veined-whites-belenois-aurota/ 

See also http://www.the-star.co.ke/news/article-30514/butterfly-migration-spectacle-cityhttp:/



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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