The Free State town of Rosendal, 43 kilometres or a 30-minute drive north of Ficksburg, is being hailed as a new Clarens in the making. A combination of natural beauty, rustic charm and mild summers has attracted creative types to the location, and in their wake a burgeoning “weekend getaway” trade.
On the R70, wedged between Senekal and Ficksburg, and about 320 kilometres from Johannesburg, Rosendal’s history is filled with the usual South African suspects – the San and Khoe, refugees from the mfacane and Trekboers. In 1914, the area was declared a municipality, and after a toss-up between the names Leliefontein and Rosendal, the town took the latter, translating to “rose valley”.
In and around Rosendal, which falls within the Thabo Mofutsanyana region, the visitor will encounter green willowed creeks, lush vegetation, vultures and cranes. The surrounding Witteberge are considered the starring attraction in all this natural bounty – the Swartkrans peak, visible from the town, is the Free State’s third highest.
Look out for
Catch a performance at the Rosendal Teater – it may include a cast drawn from the country’s best stage names.
Next door to the theatre, you will find Die Ou Handelshuis Koffiestop, a local favourite for lunch or tea and cake.
Turskvy Trading offers an “everything and the kitchen sink” shopping experience.
Soft furnishings from the East, as well as crafted by local projects, can be bought at Suzani.
Art galleries in Rosendal include Meerkatkolonie (for paintings, photographs and decor items), J Nortier (handcrafted steel and cedar wood furniture), Studio Ben (hand-woven items), Skoppelmaai (the works of Willem Pretorius and Wim Rautenbach) and Johanna Brandt Studio (oils, etchings, sculptures).
The Mosamane Hiking Trail is a 7,5-kilometre trail on the farm Beatrix, best done over two days, in which you walk a figure of eight over grasslands and sandstone cliffs.
The dirt road between Rosendal and Paul Roux is good for mountain-biking in spectacular mountain scenery.
Golf can be played at the Senekal Golf Club.
Outriding can be enjoyed on the farm Moolmanshoek, which has the added attraction of varies wildlife.