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Deelfontein Trails

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21km from Parys

-26.9422, 27.2699

1 - 50km, 1 - 8hours, Intermediate

+27 83 280 9784 www.deelfontein.co.za

Configuration: There is a network of trails covering close to 60km of tracks with circular as well as return options.

General Information: Jeep track, single track, hiking trails, farm and gravel roads. The trails are marked with signposts, paint markings and tree markings. You will receive a map from the host. Single trail distances vary from 1km to 16km. Access to the trails is free for farm guests. There is an access fee for day visitors. The trails are open all year. The winter days offer beautiful running.

Runners must be self-sustaining during the run. There are change rooms, showers and braai facilities as well as accommodation available on site. Cell phone reception is very limited.

About

Deelfontein lies in the heart of the Vredefort Dome, a massive geological formation caused by the impact of an asteroid roughly 10km in diameter, about 2 200 million years ago. It is one of South Africa’s World Heritage Sites. The farm lies on the southern side of the Vaal River, nestled between two of the concentric ridges typical of the Dome area. It is here, on 170ha of bergland covered with near-pristine bushveld, that you will find more than 50km of mountain bike trails, and a network of hiking trails.

Deelfontein lies in a network of more than 60km of hiking trails criss-crossing the Dome Conservancy. For trail runners this is an unexplored paradise, as you will find that at least 15 trails can be accessed from Deelfontein. Distances vary from 1km to 16km. The terrain is mountainous bushveld and grassveld. The routes include dirt roads, farm tracks and rugged jeep tracks. There are also some good single-track sections exploring the mountaintops.

You will find yourself crossing streams, scaling steep rocks, running through dongas and forests, and stopping on the ridges to enjoy the spectacular views over the Dome. Most of the shorter trails can be interconnected to provide hours of running bliss. The Thwane and Mooihoek routes are longer (11km and 13km, respectively), but you need permission to run these trails. Check in with Gerhard before setting off. Once you have conquered the hiking trails, the 50km of mountain bike trails await. These are configured as a network of single-track loops branching off a jeep track backbone. The trails offer many options of distance and grading.

In Parys, follow the signposts for Vredefort onto the R59 and turn right to Schoemansdrif about 3km outside Parys. After a further 3km, turn left to Reitzburg. If you hit gravel, you have gone too far. After another 12km, turn right to Reitzburg and exactly 2km further you will find the turn-off marked ‘Deelfontein, Gerhard Benade’ on the right. This is about 300m after the turn-off marked ‘Deelfontein, Greeff Boerdery’. Turn right, drive through the gate and follow the signage. Please close all gates.

Northern Free State

Free State

About

Across the Vaal River is the northern Free State or Fazile Dabi, a region of the Free State that borders the southern boundaries of Gauteng and North West province. 

Fezile Dabi, who hailed from Tumahole in Parys, was a leader of the African National Congress, a poet, author and philosopher, who rated freedom so highly that he wrote: “ I would rather die in abject poverty with my convictions than live in riches with the lack of self respect.”

The Vaal River and the vast Vaal Dam are extremely significant to the region’s tourism economy. Over weekends, the shores of both facilities fill up with recreation-seekers, who take to boats, yachts, skis and all sorts of water-bound equipment to get pleasure from this “inland sea”.

The huge Vredefort Dome, the third-largest meteorite impact crater on earth, stretches into this region too. Caused by the slamming of a meteorite about 10 kilometres in diameter into the earth’s surface, it is speculated that the collision, more than 2 000-million years ago, affected the earth’s levels of oxygen to the point that multi-cellular life became possible.

The geographical features that resulted from this event have made the terrain ideal for a whole range of adventure pursuits, the abseiling and rock climbing being particularly good.

The Vredefort Dome’s importance to the planet at large has caused Unesco to declare it a world heritage site.

The northern Free State is essentially agricultural terrain.  Maize and wheat, sorghum and sunflowers are the major crops, but cattle and dairy farming, as well as sheep farming, are actively pursued.

A network of small towns dot the Northern Free State, noted for their sandstone buildings, sites and memorials that relate to their Voortrekker or Anglo-Boer War histories.

Modest Cornelia has yielded interesting fossils of beasts no longer found; peaceful Heilbron belies a torrid history in which Chief Mzilikazi and the Voortrekkers came to blows; Koppies is where activist Emily Hobhouse started a lace school to empower women through cottage industry, and Kroonstad is the third-largest town in the province. 

Parys, also on the Vaal, was so named by its German land surveyor because the setting reminded him of Paris on the River Seine.  This vibrant town today is a wonderful mix of coffee bars, antique shops, decor shops and art galleries. 

Other towns in this region are Deneysville on the Vaal, Edenville, Frankfort and Oranjeville on the Wilge River, Sasol with its oil-from-coal refinery, Steynsrus, Tweeling and Viljoenskroon, famed for its stud farms. Villiers is said to be the most aesthetically pleasing town in the region, while Vredefort sits in the heart of the impact crater site.

Look out for

The Vredefort Dome – With a radius of 190km, the dome is regarded as the most clearly visible and oldest impact crater on earth.  Of course you cannot see a space that large from the ground.  At the town of Vredefort, however, there is a visitors’ centre where tourists can learn about the formation of the dome.  Adventure and tour operators in the Parys area offer all types of unusual ways to experience the dome – climbing and abseiling its cliffs, rafting and canoeing in its waters, or floating above it in a hot-air balloon.

Parys is a fun little town, ideal for weekends away from Johannesburg. There are lots of art galleries, restaurants and antique shops, as well as good quality bed-and-breakfasts and guest houses. Water sports are a favourite past-time in Parys and there are quite a few adventure tour operators in the area.

Kroonpark, Kroonstad - A recreation area on the Vals River, Kroonpark has a caravan park and self-catering chalets, indoor heated and outdoor swimming pools, a restaurant and landing stages for boats. It lies in an area of lush greenery.  There are also conference facilities here, a large amphitheatre, tennis courts, trampolines and putt-putt. Fishing is another outdoor option.

Deneysville – This small town is situated on the Vaal Dam, often the turnaround point for weekend bikers on “breakfast runs”.  Four yacht clubs in the vicinity stage weekend races, two well-known ones being Keel Boat Week (Deneysville Aquatic Club) and the Round the Island Yacht Race (Lake Deneys Yacht Club).

Koppies Dam Nature Reserve - East of Koppies, this nature reserve on 4 300 hectares on the Renoster River offers a satisfying game experience.  White rhino and large buffalo herds are some of the highlights of a visit, along with multiple bird species, including waterfowl.  A dam in the reserve is said to be a fisherman’s paradise, abundant with yellowfish, barbel, carp and mudfish. Sailing, windsurfing, and other water sports are permitted on the dam.

The Riemland Museum, Heilbron – Telling the story of the town’s heritage, agricultural activities, and the 1836 Battle of Vegkop - a landmark chapter in Heilbron’s history, is the Riemland Museum.  Occupying an old Jewish synagogue, it also delves into the history of the Jewish community once resident there.

Gallery 88, Sasolburg - Contemporary art, sculpture and ceramic creations are on show at this Sasolburg art gallery, which also features works by well-known South African artists, such as Phillip Badenhorst, George Boys and Michael Heyns.   Stop for tea in the summer or a fireside meal in the winter months.

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