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Rebellie 4x4 Trails

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15km from Clarens

-28.5818, 28.4874

32km, 4-6hrs, Grade 3-5

+27 83 627 8391 www.rebellie.co.za

Configuration: The Kloof Trail is a circular loop with escape routes, while the Mountain Trail is a return route.

Terrain: Rocks, mud, river crossings, sand and sandstone.

The routes are self-driven, but a guide can accompany you if you wish. The route is suitable for all-year driving, but if you want to avoid closed sections due to rain it might be better to come in winter. Rebellie Game Farm boasts luxury lodges, self-catering bungalows and a basic campsite. There is also a wedding/function venue. There are two trails at Rebellie: the Kloof Trail and the Mountain Trail, as well as several other trails in the area. The list of activities at Rebellie is vast. It includes quad and mountain biking, game viewing, birdwatching and hiking.

About

The “Jewel of the Free State”. That's what they call the area between the picturesque little art mecca of Clarens and the Golden Gate National Park. Nestled in the serene mountainous landscape of the majestic Maluti Mountains, Rebellie Game Farm offers the perfect sanctuary away from everyday city life, noise and stress. But that is only part of its claim to fame. Rebellie also has one of the highest 4x4 trails in South Africa, at 2 200m above sea level.

Rebellie is a well-known 4x4 destination with a reputation of excellence for their trails as well as for their service and accommodation. Both the trails require sound 4x4 experience, but if you are a 4x4 adrenalin junkie willing to test your vehicle and your own skills, you'll love the grade 5 section of the Kloof trail. Be warned: it gets hectic and if you suffer from fear of heights you will not enjoy much of the trip. The trail starts off quite tamely, climbing to the top of the mountains via a bit of mud, some axle twisters and steep slopes. The fun starts after the picnic spot. A large rock step and uneven climb prepares you for the Grade 5 where you plunge into the ravine. Here more rock plates, steep climbs, sandy slopes and high rock steps will frazzle your nerve ends.

The Mountain trail is graded 3 and much more relaxed. It is an out and back trail that gently climbs up the mountain contours to reward you with breathtaking views of the Lesotho Lowlands and Highlands, and the Golden Gate National Park. An experienced guide is on hand to take groups on guided tours, if required.

One of the wonderful things at Rebellie is that if you stay over in one of the lodges you'll get to unwind in your own private jacuzzi. The two lodges, Mooihoek Chalet and Loslit, can accommodate up to 35 persons together. The self-catering accommodation is fully equipped, with stunning views and electric blankets for the freezing winter nights. The campers can opt for an off-road camping spot only accessible to off-road caravans and 4x4 vehicles. Otherwise you can camp around The Shed where there is space for eight tents or caravans. You can use the ablutions inside The Shed and also draw electricity from there. If you still have some energy left after your 4x4 experience you can go quad or mountain biking, hiking, game viewing or birdwatching.

Rebellie Game Farm is just 12km from Clarens. Follow the R712 from Clarens towards the Golden Gate National Park for 5km before turning right onto a gravel road. Travel up this road for another 7km to Rebellie Game Farm.

Thabo Mofutsanyana

Free State

About

The northern and eastern sections of the Free State, commonly referred to as the “eastern Free State”, nudge up against the borders of Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Kingdom of Lesotho. Officially the region is called Thabo Mofutsanayana.  Mofutsanyana, born in QwaQwa, was a leading light of both the African National Congress and the South African Communist Party until his death in 1995.

Geographically, this region bucks a trend. While most of the Free State is flat, the eastern reaches tower up as the Drakensberg and the Malotis come into play. The landscape climbs and soars, leaving impressive cliffs and buttresses of sandstone, and hidden caves in its wake.

Nowhere is the scene more striking that at the Golden Gate Highlands National Park near the village of Clarens. The maze of sculptured rock formations here is almost too much to absorb.  Sunset colours the cliffs in shades of ochre, hence the reference to gold in the name of the park.

These higher altitudes, of course, do wonders for the eastern Free State air, which is crisp, clean and bracing, conducive to a feeling of good health.

Clarens is one of the villages that lie in the foothills of the Malotis. With its mountainous surrounds, it is said to be reminiscent of the Swiss village of Clarens, where President Paul Kruger lived out his exile.

A town of sandstone buildings set amidst farmland, it has undergone something of a reincarnation in recent years as an artists’ colony. Just three hours or so from Gauteng’s big cities, weekenders come down to roam its galleries and craft shops.

The principal town in this region is Bethlehem. Once again sandstone buildings are characteristic of the town, which is the centre of a farming community that produces the lion’s share of South Africa’s wheat crop.

It has both built and natural attractions, including a flat-water slalom course for canoeists on the Ash River. Bethlehem is also the location of an annual national hot-air balloon championship.

Also set against an imposing Maloti backdrop is Ficksburg, renowned for its annual Cherry Festival in summer. A gateway to Lesotho and its Katse Dam, the town’s environs offer much in the way of adventure activity, such as 4x4 trails, quad-biking, abseiling, trout-fishing and game-viewing.

Other Thabo Mofutsanyane towns are Arlington, Clocolan, Fouriesburg, Harrismith, Kestell, Lindley, Marquard, Memel, Paul Roux, Petrus Steyn, Phuthaditjhaba, Reitz, Rosendal, Senekal, Vrede and Warden.

Look out for

Golden Gate Highlands National Park – This park is a theatre of natural, towering sandstone formations, named “golden” for their colour at sunset.  At that time of day, the best place to appreciate the beauty is the highest point in the park, Ribbokkop.  The former QwaQwa National Park was incorporated into Golden Gate in 2005.  Horseriding is a popular outdoor pursuit in the park, which is valued for its plant, animal and bird life.  A number of accommodation options are available.

Basotho Cultural Village –  South Sotho architecture, arts and crafts, herbal medicinal remedies and cuisine can be explored at the Basotho Cultural Village near Phuthaditjhaba.  Song and dance folklore shows can also be enjoyed.

The Sentinel – Also near Phuthaditjhaba, it is the access point for a series of trails that lead hikers to the rear of the Drakensberg Amphitheatre and some of the country’s most magnificent scenery.  Geographical features to view are The Sentinel, Devil’s Tooth, the Eastern Buttress and the Tugela Falls.

Discovering cherries, Ficksburg  - The annual Cherry Festival in Ficksburg takes place in November.  It is a three-day event that attracts thousands and entertains with fun activities such as horse- and camel-rides.  Cherry farm tours, however, take place throughout the cherry season, which is in October and November.  Locally made cherry liqueurs, brandies and schnapps should be tasted to complete the experience.

Clarens – A host of things to do and see in Clarens includes the Artist Amble, a route of galleries open to the public; rock art on Schaapplaats Farm; sandstone formations such as Mushroom Rock and Titanic Rock; dinosaur fossils at Sue’s Zoo; fly-fishing as well as bass- and river-fishing; hiking and horse-riding.

Sterkfontein Dam, Harrismith – The third largest dam in South Africa, the Sterkfontein Dam is a popular venue for water sports and angling.  Predating the Lesotho Highlands project, the water that fills the dam is pumped up from KwaZulu-Natal.  It is then released into the Wilge River, from where it flows into the Vaal Dam.    The Sterkfontein Dam’s banks are surrounded by a nature reserve where strange rock formations are just as interesting to view as buck and raptors.  Camping and chalet accommodation is available, as well as hiking trails.

Salpeterkrans – At Fouriesburg you will find Salpeterkrans, one of the largest sandstone overhangs in the southern hemisphere, shaped by wind erosion.  It not surprising that it is considered a sacred site where ancestral worship and fertility rites take place.

Rosendal – like the town of Clarens, Rosendal is known for its arty vibe. There are numerous art galleries in and around town, as well as quaint shops and restaurants. The Meerkatkolonie Art Gallery is a must. Rosendal is a popular weekend getaway destination for those who live in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

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