Clarens is a town in the Free State, 10 km from the border between the Free State and  Lesotho, between Golden Gate and Bethlehem. Located at the junction of the R712 and R711. Laid out in 1912, it was named after Clarens, situated between Vevey and Montreux in Switzerland, where President Paul Kruger died.

Clarens is home to some of the most picturesque landscapes in the country.

Nestled in the majestic Maluti Mountains you will find the “jewel of the Free State”, Clarens. Clarens and the surrounding valley boasts a range of activities for everybody from abseiling and white water rafting to just sitting and enjoying a hearty meal or a refreshing sundowner in one of the towns cozy and diverse restaurants and pubs. With fly-fishing becoming an ever popular sport worldwide; Clarens can claim fame to some of the best still waters and small streams in the Country.

Most of the fishing is controlled and managed by the River Rangers, who are available as guides on the various waters. For the fun seeking, adventurous types, Clarens offers some of the most challenging 4×4 routes, existing quad biking, horse riding, clay pigeon shooting, archery, mountain biking, abseiling, golf, squash, tennis, bowls and fly fishing. With 18 art galleries in town the art lover is certainly guaranteed to find what they are looking for whether it be pastels, watercolors or oils.


Clarens Tourism

Clarens is part of the Eagle Route of the Free State. Following the Free State’s southern border with Lesotho, the Eagle route runs from Ficksburg to Harrismith through some of the most picturesque landscape in the country. Activity highlights include cherry picking, seeing dinosaur fossils and rock paintings, arts & craft shopping, skiing in the winter slopes, horse riding and 4X4 trips.

Golden Gate Highlands National Park – Tel: 058 255 1000
• Golden Gate Resort – Tel: 058 255 1000
• Basotho Cultural Village – Tel: 058 255 1000
• Clarens Brewery – Tel: 082 901 4700
• Arts & Crafts
• Craft Beer Festival (Feb) – Tel: 058 256 1086
• Clarens Xtreme Festival of Dirt (Apr) – Tel: 058 256 1086
• MTN National MTB Series (May)


Abseiling down the scenic cliffs formed by the beautiful cave sandstone of the Golden Gate area is just one of the thrills available in the mountainous Eastern Free State. You can abseil on its own, just for fun, or combine it with any number of other adventures for an exciting teambuilding experience.

Horse Riding

There are fabulous horse trails around the town of Clarens, and up into the Maluti Mountains where you can ride for days. The Malutis are real pony trekking country, with fantastic scenery, rough terrain and steep paths to test the surefootedness of even the sturdiest of horses.

You can do a horseback safari through a nearby game farm where you are likely to see eland, wildebeest and other small game.

Hot-Air Ballooning

A hot air balloon flight offers an experience unlike any other; view the world above in almost total silence. View the countryside from a brand new perspective; become one with nature.

Clarens offers breath-taking scenery including the Maluti Mountains, and a quaint village to explore afterwards.

Rebellie 4×4 Trail

The Rebellie 4×4 Trails offer two different routes. The trails are a difficulty grading of 3 to 5 and a total of 32km which will take you between 4 to 6 hours to complete. The terrain is varied with rocks, mud, river crossings, sand and sandstone.

The Kloof Trail is a circular route and has a number of escape routes on the trail should you run into trouble, while the Mountain Trail is a return route with no escape routes.

Some of the sections on the trails are closed during the rainy season so if you’d prefer to avoid this it is advisable to visit during winter.

Ash River Outfall

The Ash River Outfall is one of the Highlands water scheme’s view points on the Bethlehem roadClarens about 8km from Clarens. The Ash River just outside Clarens in the eastern Free State is fed by the Trans Caledon Transfer Tunnel, which pumps water from the Katze Dam high up in the Maluti Mountains of Lesotho. The crystal clear water flows down the Ash River all the way to the Vaal Dam.

Booking with one of the White Water Rafting outfits in Clarens.  A positive spin-off from the Water Project is that this part of the Ash River is consistently flowing at more or less this rate on every day of the year.  Depending on the time of day that you arrive at the bridge, you are in a prime position to watch the rafts come down over the rapids.

Rhebok Hiking Trail

This is rather an energetic trail in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains, north eastern Free State, arguably some of the most incredible mountain scenery in the country.

The two-day trail, which involves trekking up to the highest point in the park (Generaalskop), gives one a wonderful way to see the park, including some of the best views out over Mont-aux-Sources and the Maluti.

White water river rafting at Ash river

The Ash River just outside Clarens in the Eastern Freestate is fed by the Trans Caledon Transfer Tunnel, which pumps water from the Katze dam high up in the Maluti Mountains in Lesotho. The crystal clear water flows down the Ash River all the way to the Vaal Dam.

Wild Rides Quad Biking

Wild Rides Quad Biking offer quad biking experiences in the Maluti mountains, only 10 km from Clarens.

Quad Biking trips range in length from one-and-a-half to two hours depending on the participants’ skills level. Choose between a technical ride, a game-viewing outride or just a leisurely sundowner trip.

Titanic Rock Overlooking the entrance to Clarens

Lesoba Hiking Trail

This 11km trail requires an overnight stay as does the shorter and steeper 7km trail available here. This incredibly challenging trail is suitable for adults and children of 14 years and older.

Not far from Clarens are the Maluti Mountains where you will find a cattle farm marking the start of this magnificent trail.


Ancient Cave Hut There are two huts built against the back wall under the low overhang of the roof, which are close on 200 hundred years’ old
Dinosaur fossils The mountain village of Clarens in the eastern Free State is not only a quaint town in a beautiful setting – it is also a great location for those interested in fossils and palaeontology.


Golf course in Clarens
Clarens Golf Course, Clarens Golf and Trout Estate. The par 71 golf course, designed and constructed by Golf Data, is bound to excite every level of golfer. All 18 holes meander along and across the tranquil river and its splendid series of dams and cascading waterfalls.

The manicured Kikuyu fairways and Bent Grass Greens are framed by mature Willow and magnificent Lombardi poplar trees, and great care has been taken to ensure that each round of golf you play will be more memorable than the one before.

Bushmen Paintings in Schaaplaats Bushmen paintings at Kiara Lodge (only known bushman painting of a dassie) and Schaapplaats farm, a 20min walk. Enquire at the Info Centre.
Clarens Brewery Clarens Brewery brews fine hand crafted beers and cider in the beautiful village of Clarens in the foothills of the Maluti Mountains. It is the first and only microbrewery in the Free State and have been since December 2006. the brewer, Stephan Meyer, has a passion for microbrewed beer and has been been brewing full grain, pure malt beers since 2004 with an absolute dedication to quality and craftmanship.

Return to the Free State Town/Cities page HERE.

Key Statistics 2011

Total population 751
Young (0-14) 7,6%
Working Age (15-64) 73,1%
Elderly (65+) 19,3%
Dependency ratio 36,8
Sex ratio 87,8
Population density 59 persons/km2
No schooling aged 20+ 0,8%
Higher education aged 20+ 55,5%
Matric aged 20+ 33,2%
Number of households 246
Average household size 1,9
Female headed households 34,3%
Formal dwellings 96,3%
Housing owned/paying off 69,1%
Flush toilet connected to sewerage 87,8%
Weekly refuse removal 93,1%
Piped water inside dwelling 99,6%
Electricity for lighting 100%