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City Harrismith

Harrismith is located in the eastern part of the Free State province, halfway on the N3 highway that links Johannesburg and Durban. The N5 from Bloemfontein comes from Harrismith and understandably this is for many a stop for gas and something to eat during a long journey. Harrismith is located at the beautiful Van Rheenen Pass which connects the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal with one another. But there is more to do in the area of ​​Harrismith and for tourists it can be a good base for visiting places such as the Golden Gate Highlands National Park (also with a Basotho cultural village), the northern part of the spectacular uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park in KwaZulu-Natal or the Sterkfontein Dam. The first two parks are about 50 km from Harrismith and a breathtaking natural beauty and are great for walks, hikes, mountain biking or simply enjoying the wonderful scenery.

Harrismith owes its name to the British Governor Sir Harry Smith; 90 km away there is Ladysmith which is named after his wife. Harrismith was founded in 1849 on a spot on the Elands River 25 km from the current Harrismith. This place, however, was not suitable due to lack of water in the dry periods of the year, so a year later it was chosen to shift to the Wilge River. During the Diamond Rush with large diamond findings in Kimberley, Harrismith was an important place on the trade route to Natal and opened hotels, shops etc. The place was a base that was used during the Anglo-Boer war and today reminds us of it, which includes a military cemetery. Long before Harrismith was founded, bushmen lived there in the area and you can witness the bushman-paintings in a cave about 5 km outside the city.

Harrismith is not just a stop for travelers but also transportation and freight as well as, as it has the largest truck stop in the southern hemisphere: Highway Junction. Harrismith is also the center of one of the five wool producing areas in southern Africa. The town itself has a number of beautiful buildings from the early 19th century, such as the Town Hall made of sandstone and brick dating from 1907.

One of the best known natural features of the eastern part of the Free State is the Platberg. This mountain near Harrismith has a flat top with no less than nine kilometers in length; the height of the mountain is 2394 meters. The Platberg Reserve is popular for hiking and mountain biking. The reserve includes eland, wildebeest, waterbuck and blesbokke. In October, a running and mountain bike race will be held during the Mountain Bohaai Festival on the Flat Mountain.

A place about 23 km from Harrismith, which is worth a visit, is the Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve (18,000 hectares). The reserve is a favorite among birders as there are more than 200 species of birds including different species of vultures', eagles, ibis and black grouse. But it is also is a suitable place for taking long walks, hiking and mountain biking. Sterkfontein Dam (7000 hectares) is the third largest dam in South Africa and is a good place for fishing, canoeing and windsurfing. The reserve consists of mountains, canyons and grasslands and this makes for beautiful scenery.

Finally Harrismith houses the second oldest golf course in South Africa.

Harrismith is a small, charming country town, founded in 1849, but only recently discovered by tourists. Visitors remark on its cleanliness, and the friendliness of its inhabitants. It is the ideal destination to break a long trip, hold a conference or escape from the stresses of city living and recharge batteries in tranquil surroundings and excellent facilities. The town is well known for its gardens (both domestic and wild flower gardens), golf course (the oldest in South Africa) and links with the South African War, with close by battle sites, blockhouses and a military cemetery. There are useful Boer, Brit and sandstone architecture to be seen.

Indulge in open-air hobbies like birding, biking, 4x4, hiking, climbing, golfing, history, water sports and lots more. Activities near Harrismith include trout fishing, water sports on the Sterkfontein Dam (the third largest dam in South Africa), bird watching and visiting well stocked game farms. The Drakensberg range and Maluti Mountains provide a spectacular backdrop to Harrismith.


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