Bloemfontein, Free State, South Africa

Bloemfontein by night.

Bloemfontein is the capital city of the province of the Free State. It is a charming, medium sized city, living up to its name of 'spring of flowers'. Thousands of pretty rose bushes line the streets, creating an amazing spectacle most of the year, especially in the spring time. Nearby is the orchid house, another tribute to that beautiful name.

Bloemfontein was originally inhabited by the Stone-Age people and later by the Basotho. It was named Mangaung, which means 'Place of Leopards'. Bloemfontein is the capital of what was then the Orange Free State until the Union of South Africa was declared in 1910. It was then made the judicial capital of South Africa and is the site of the Supreme Court of Appeal.

A small nature reserve called Naval Hill offers lovely walks and the opportunity to see small game. There are also a number of wonderful little museums dedicated to subjects ranging from natural history to warfare. The most poignant memorial is that of the Women's Monument, erected to commemorate the thousands of women and children who died in British concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War.

Bloemfontein also offers wonderful recreational, shopping and entertainment facilities. A number of quaint and vibrant shopping centres are available in the city. Another worthwhile visit would be to the Bloemfontein Botanical Gardens, the only botanical gardens in the Free State. It features 6 hectares of delightful walks and trails, a bird hide, nursery and tea garden.

Bloemfontein is a great stopover point for journeys between Cape Town and Johannesburg and is the closest city to the Kingdom of Lesotho.

Bloemfontein, Free State, South Africa

The town of Bloemfontein in the Free State province, literally meaning "Fountain of Flowers, known by locals as the "City of Roses" because of rows of rose bushes growing throughout the city and the annual flower show; is situated in central South Africa en route between Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The city in the Free State is based on the appreciation of quality of life, with lush green suburbs surrounding the charming and impressive city centre. The Loch Logan Waterfront is a leisure hub in Bloemfontein. This is a picnic friendly-city with plenty of parks, shady areas and attractive gardens. This historic City of Roses has an air of peacefulness although it is a busy business and conference centre with rich cultural roots. There are museums of every kind and several theatres amongst many historic buildings and monuments. Naval Hill and Franklin Nature Reserve are in the centre of the Bloemfontein.

Visitors to this Free State city can enjoy panoramic views from the hill and also see a variety of animal species which roam freely such as ostriches, buffalo, giraffe, and springbuck. The White Horse sculpture, a landmark on the south-eastern slopes of the hill, was set up during the Anglo Boer War as guidance for British Cavalry coming in from the surrounding plains. The Lamont Hussey Observatory on the reserve is now an intimate theatre.

The Bloemfontein Zoo and Botanical Gardens, South Africa, are also situated in a park in the city. The zoo has a large collection of primates amongst many other animals. For a variety of walks, the Botanic Gardens are a must all year round and there are barbeque facilities available. The Orchid House offers a profusion of colour and beauty and is well worth a visit.

At the Windmill Centre and Casino, there is entertainment for the whole family, with themed restaurants, bowling and a casino. Saturday is market day in Bloemfontein and visitors can visit the local farmers market or depending on which week in the month drop into the art and craft or flea market in various sites around this city in the Free State province, South Africa.

The Soetdoring Dam Nature Reserve is about 40 minutes northwest of Bloemfontein and an ideal destination for relaxation in nature, bird watching and watersports. A variety of game is resident including Lion, Zebra, Eland and Black Wildebeest, the Lion are in a fenced area. There is also a 1 day hiking trail in safe territory along the Modder River.

Areas of interest near Bloemfontein, South Africa

An hour's drive east of Bloemfontein is Thaba 'Nchu, meaning Black Mountain, one of the oldest settlements in the Free State. This attractive area has been a popular getaway for years. The game reserve is home to White Rhino, Black Wildebeest, Eland, Zebra and more also many bird species - game drives are available. There is a picnic and barbeque area as well as ablution facilities. Resort hotels have casinos and leisure activities or visitors can head to the Ratlou Shopping complex.

Nearby is the town of Botshabelo in the Free State which is the setting of Rustfontein Dam and Nature Reserve. This is a popular recreational area for watersports and game drives and there are barbeque facilities. In the town, local arts and crafts can be bought from the Co-op. Further afield close to the border of the Mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, are the town of Wepener and the beautiful Caledon Nature Reserve.

Things to see and do in Bloemfontein

Bloemfontein attractions:

  • Loch Logan Waterfront
  • Windmill Casino and Entertainment Centre
  • Historic buildings, National Monuments, museums
  • Naval Hill Nature Reserve
  • Oliewenhuis Art Gallery, lawns, tea garden, restaurant
  • Botanic Gardens with barbeque sites, Orchid House
  • Bloemfontein Zoo in the park
  • Markets open most Saturdays in the city
  • 6 Theatres to choose from
  • Shopping malls, restaurants, cafés
  • Soetdoring Dam Nature Reserve

Adventure activities in Bloemfontein:

  • Quad biking, mountain biking, paintball
  • Hiking and horse trails
  • Skydiving and abseiling
  • Canoeing and watersports

Surrounding areas of interest:

  • Thaba 'Nchu
  • Maria Moroka Game Reserve
  • 1 day hiking trail
  • Watersports on the dam
  • Shopping complex
  • Casinos and resort activities
  • Historic sites and traditional culture
  • Mmabana Cultural Centre Botshabelo
  • Rustfontein Nature and Game Reserve Wepener
  • Caledon Nature Reserve
  • Game viewing, great views, birdwatching
  • Historic buildings and sites
  • San Rock Art
  • Close to the Lesotho border
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