Bethlehem is located on the N5 road to the Free State provincial capital Bloemfontein via senekal and winburg to the N1. Other regional roads in the town are R76 road to Kroonstad (north), the R26 road to Reitz and Fouriesburg (north east and south) respectively. The R712 runs through to Clarens just 41 km’s away on route to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park.
Bethlehem was founded by three local residents, Kristiaan Klopper, Neil Bishop and Henco Cronjé, who jointly bought the farm Pretorius Kloof. The first stands were sold in 1860 and a justice of peace appointed in 1864
Bethlehem is a Town 250 km north-east of Bloemfontein and 260 km south of Johannesburg, established in 1860 on the farm Pretorius kloof and proclaimed in 1884. Named after the biblical Bethlehem (Judg. 17:7), the birthplace of Jesus. ‘House of bread’, so called because wheat was found to thrive there.
Rivers in and around Bethlehem
Jordaan River rising in the Rooiberg north-east of Clarens and flowing north through Bethlehem. The reference is to the River Jordan which flows into the Sea of Galilee.
Vals River – Tributary of the Vaal River. It rises in the Bethlehem district and flows northwest for 300 km to its confluence with the Vaal 16 km west of Bothaville.
Asrivier River some 8 km south-east of Bethlehem which flows into Loch Lomond. Afrikaans for ‘axle river’, the name was given because the axle of a wagon broke at a ford here during the Great Trek,
causing some delay.
Golden Gate Region on the watershed between the Vaal and Orange rivers, southeast of Bethlehem, east of Clarens, south of Kestell, north of Lesotho and west of Harrismith. The name is derived from twin sandstone bluffs which look golden at sunset, and has been transferred to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, 4 271 ha in extent, proclaimed in September 1963. Restocked with indigenous animals, this reserve has two rest camps and offers a wide variety of facilities and entertainment.
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Frontier Inn and Casino
The casino is located in the historical town of Bethlehem and is the gateway to some of South Africa’s most beautiful scenery and important landmarks, including the Golden Gate Highlands National Park and the Basotho Cultural Village. Nearby outdoor entertainment options include river rafting, wildlife gazing, hiking, fishing, biking and quad biking.
Located in Bethlehem in the Free State, Frontier Inn and Casino is a charming, boutique casino resort perfectly situated en-route to Clarens. Comfortable accommodation, lively entertainment, and service with a smile, characterise this frontier – themed establishment with its magnificent finishes. As the only legal casino in Bethlehem we offer gaming entertainment to excite with regular promotions and weekly game shows. Live the spirit of Adventure!
Frontier Inn and Casino Contact details
Phone: +27 (0)58 307 6000
Physical Address: Johan Blignaut Drive, Bethlehem, Free State, South Africa
The Bethlehem Museum is one of Cultural History and is housed in the old Nazareth Mission Church on Muller Street. The church was originally built in 1906 so is architecturally and aesthetically pleasing. The museum is only open at selected times.
You will find a number of historical items at the museum one of which is an old steam train which is housed on the grounds, I’m sure your children will be fascinated learning more about this method of travel that perhaps their great grandparents travelled by.
The museum has a strong focus of the town’s history and culture so you will notice a fair number of farming implements and period furniture that depict the lifestyle of former residents of the town. If you’re interested in war, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a very good collection of war memorabilia at the Bethlehem Museum.
Once you’ve topped up on your local knowledge and history of the area head out to one of the Bethlehem Restaurants to fill your belly as you’ve filled your brain.
Bethlehem Golf Club
Located in the charming town of Bethlehem, lies a quaint golf course, but one which also has a fierce reputation in this part of the country.
Bethlehem Country Club is one of the best kept and well-laid out golfing facilities in the eastern Free State.
Groenkop Battle –site A memorial monument has been erected on the top of Groenkop Situated between Bethlehem and Kestell (40 km from Bethlehem), remembering those who died during the battle on 25 December 1901. Major Williams with 550 men, most of them from the 11th Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry, a 15-pounder gun and a pom-pom were positioned at the top of the 61m high Groenkop.
Lionsrock – Big Cat Sanctuary.
A lifelong home for big cats. As part of four paws’ work for wild animals in captivity, we focus on the situation of big cats in zoos, in private captivity and in the entertainment industry.
The area was was taken over by four paws in 2006. During the early days at the newly acquired big cat sanctuary, huge demands were placed on the local team. Massive structural changes had to be made to the area to bring up to four paws´ rigorous quality standards.
Tepelkop Hiking Trail
Tepelkop hiking trail is moderately difficult and is suitable for children aged twelve and older. This ten kilometre hike near Bethlehem in the Eastern Free State begins at a converted sandstone barn which is used as a base camp for hikers.
Warm up with a good walk on the first stretch before you begin your short but steep climb to the saddle between the Witteberg and Tepelkop mountains. Along the way you will spot an outstanding array of flora and fauna.
Sporekrans Hiking Trail A two day Sporekrans trail in the Bergdeel private game reserve. The reserve has a camp with beds, an ablution block and braai spots so you can stay over comfortably the night before the trail starts.
Holhoek Hiking Trail
The sandstone koppies so prevalent in this area of the Witteberg are said to be all that remains of what was once a desert.
The beauty of the area is paramount – naked rocks of various interesting formations, trees of all shapes and sizes, mountain streams, kloofs, a series of caves (some endowed with San rock paintings), valleys, various ladders and bridges up and along the mountain face and a pleasingly designed route combine to make a particularly enjoyable hike.
• LionsRock Wildlife Centre – Tel: 058 304 1691
• Sol Plaatje Dam
• National Hot Air Ballooning Day (May)
• Bethlehem Air Show (Aug)