One of the best-kept secrets in the Free State is situated between Clarens and the Maluti mountains. This trail offers a unique combination of high berg wilderness and cultural treasures. The area, famous for its landmark San paintings, well-preserved dinosaur fossils, and intriguing African folklore tales, is home to your charismatic mountain guide who will regale you with colorful stories of the past providing an original interpretation of ancient trance ceremonies and African traditions. Staying in charming country guesthouses just outside of Clarens, you will enjoy fine local boerekos meals served with traditional hospitality in the comfort of your accommodation. With transfers and luggage, transfer arranged all you need to do is wake up and enjoy the golden-lit sandstone trails so unique to this part of the world. The daily distances and gradient are very manageable making this the perfect beginners’ hikes for those less fit.
Distance 13.5 km
We begin the day with a five km walk along a small tributary of the Caledon River through farmlands to the Schaaplaats rock art site, a national monument. This site has been given special prominence as home to paintings from some of the finest artists of the later stone age depicting, amongst others, therianthropes (a fusion between animal and human) and rain animals, both central symbols of the ancient shamanistic ceremonies.
After a short rest, we head up onto the Basotho montane highland with dramatic views of the village of Clarens nestled in the craggy limestone mountains of the Rooi and Witte Berg. Passing the legendary cannibal caves we make our way through the kloof ravine to our next overnight stop.
The day starts with a gradual climb into a scenic kloof via interesting rock formations and a small waterfall. After a short rest, we head up onto the Basotho montane scrubland and highland with dramatic views of the village of Clarens nestled in the craggy limestone mountains of the Rooi and Witte Berg. Making our way into sandstone ravines with streams winding their way through Ouhout forests, we passed the ancient dwellings of the legendary cannibals of the Moshoeshoe tribes. Enjoy your guide’s well-researched but occasionally unorthodox interpretation of two hidden bushman rock art sites depicting ancient trance ceremonies performed there thousands of years ago.
The journey begins on the Clarens town square with a journey back in time, at the memorial erected to the five Boers killed at the battle of Nauupoortsnek in 1865. We then venture past the beautiful NG Kerk, a witness to when Clarens become a village in 1912. Continuing along a riverine path, we make our way up a mountain trail to the cliffs overlooking town where we are rewarded with views of Clarens, the peaks of Titanic, Naaupoortsnek, and Mount Horeb. This contour path clinging to the cliffs is very beautiful but fairly exposed. For those that do not have a head for heights, there is an option of a higher but longer path across the mountain. This is a beautiful circular route beginning and ending in Clarens and encompassing all aspects of the Free State fauna, flora, and geology. Depending on the group’s time schedules and energy levels there is an optional day’s distance of between 5.5-10km. After a leisurely amble, you can wind down your slackpack weekend with a craft beer and a scrumptious lunch at one of the gourmet restaurants in Clarens. Just in time for an early afternoon departure.