Harrismith, Free State, South Africa

Harrismith, Free State, South Africa.

Harrismith is a medium sized town situated halfway between Johannesburg and Durban on the N3. Most travelers bypass this town, using it as a convenient refueling stop before heading back on their way. This town, however; has much more to offer.

It is situated in the foothills of the Drakensberg, close to the Northern Berg and the Amphitheatre and Mont aux Sources are easily accessible from here. Both of these locations offer excellent hiking and day walks.

The nearby Sterkfontein Dam is excellent for fly fishing. Enthusiasts can cast their rod in the hopes of catching the magnificent and indigenous Yellow fish, a fish that makes the rainbow trout seem like an overfed Koi.

Harrismith is an important crossroads in South Africa's land trade routes. This tranquil town was founded in 1849 by British Governor Harry Smith, who tried to persuade the Voortrekkers not to abandon Natal. The first location for Harrismith proved to be deficient in water, so the town moved to its current location in 1850.

During the diamond rush in Kimberley, the town became a busy staging area on the Natal transport route, and hotels, grocery stores and public building started to spring up. In 1892 the railway from Natal to Harrismith opened, but due to politics problems, did not go any further for some time.

Harrismith was a major base during the Anglo-Boer war, and has progressed since then to become a charming and delightful town, housing several churches and public buildings. The annual Berg Marathon is held in Plattberg, and is one of the most prestigious cross country running events in South Africa.

Harrismith is renowned for its delicious steaks, with the town being the capital of South Africans top red meat producing industry. Harrismith is also the centre of one of the five wool producing districts in Southern Africa.

For a cultural experience of note, the Intabazwe Township Tour offers an eye-opening experience into the effects of Apartheid. This township has a population of 60 000 black South Africans, smaller than many of the townships in the larger cities.

Tours will include a look into the day-to-day lives at township schools, taverns and spaza shops. Local children are eager to impress, and will put on traditional dance and drum performances for your entertainment.

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