Private animal sanctuaries in the Free State include;
Bagamoya Wildlife Estatesituated about 35km from the centre of the city of Bloemfontein. The main attraction at Bagamoya is a lion breeding project which consists of 34 lions. Animals that can be seen at Bagamoya include white lions, tigers, white tiger, Rooikat, Muskeljaardkat, wallabies, lamas, camels, twenty eight distinct species of wild bucks, giraffes, a Fennec fox (the smallest jackal in the world), and a great variety of birds from all over the world.
Boskoppie Lion Farm & Game Reserve (Edenville district) where the main attraction is the carnivore breeding project which consists of 70 lions, tigersand jaguars. Deneysville Croc Ranch & Lion Park which aims to educate and inform visitors on all the aspects of Crocodylus Niloticus (Nile Crocodile) and lions. There are also other facilities at the disposal of guests. Lionsrock Sanctuary and Wildlife Estate is situated in the beautiful Eastern Free State. Being home to a diverse range of wildlife and predators such as several pride of lions, two leopards, a Bengal tiger and other wild cats, makes it an ideal destination for wildlife enthusiasts.
The Cheetah Experience (Bloemfontein)The Fiela Funds Cheetah Breeding Project is a South African registered non-profit organization, primarily concerned with education. The purpose of the Fiela Funds is to ensure the long-term survival of the cheetah and their ecosystem. The project was launched in November 2007 on land provided by Emoya Estate located in Bloemfontein. Visitors are able to interact with the cheetahs and other wild animals. Puruma Pride(Viljoenkroon district) is a privately owned, non-subsidized lion farm, covering approximately 40ha. It is a lion breeding farm dedicated to protecting and preserving the white lion type and breed lions. Weltevrede Lion Farm is located near the town of Heilbron in the Free State Province and visitors can interact with big cats, wild dogs and other wildlife.
The Basotho Cultural Villageis situated in the heart of the Qwa Qwa National Park and only about 20 kilometres from the world renowned Golden Gate Highlands National Park. This open air museum depicts the lifestyle and architectural style of Basotho from as early as the sixteenth century to present days. It was built in 1991 and was opened officially in 1994. Activities and services include a village tour, a herbal trail, an open air tea garden and amphitheatre, arts and crafts and cultural performances.
This Bushman’s Cave Hiking Trail (Fouriesburg) includes Bushman rock art, splendid views over Lesotho, an unfinished castle atop a sheer cliff, an old fort, and prolific birdlife. Set among typical eastern Free State mountain scenery, this trail lives up to its name and leads hikers past a large number of Bushman paintings, some of which are well preserved. Its attractive location and the range of activities offered make this trail a popular venue with church groups; the natural amphitheatre above base camp has been set up as a ‘church’ with some seating and a pulpit
Bird Watching is one of the great attractions of the Memel district.It has as estimated350 bird species including many ‘specials’ and 15 Red Data listed species. At certain times of the year thousands of water birds congregate on the wetlands, and the grassland areas abound with bird life, making the area a true birding paradise. Scarce and endangered species such as the Wattled, Blue and Crowned Crane may be seen and sometimes roost together in the same part of the wetland. Special birds of the grasslands include Southern Bald Ibis, Blue Korhaan, Rudd’s and Botha’s Larks and Yellow-breasted Pipit.
Clarens Valley, situated in the Eastern Free State Highlands, is known for its spectacularsandstone mountainsandwonderful climate, and is one of the most picturesque spots in South Africa. The village has become known as the “Jewel of the Free State” – rich in beauty, with an aura of peace and tranquillity. The 3 700 ha Caledon Nature Reserve is located just off the Wepener-Smithfield Road, approximately 120 km from Bloemfontein. Game species include black wildebeest, grey rhebuck and zebra. Nearly 200 species of birds, including the majestic fish eagle, have also been recorded. The reserve is ideal for angling and some record size carp and barbel have been caught here. Other species of fish include the yellow fish and the Orange River mudfish.
The “Diamond and Wine Tourism Route“ is a very popular tourist attraction. The route follows the original diamond prospectors to the region includes open diamond mines at Koffiefontein (diamonds from this mine are sought after world-wide) and the mining village of Jagersfontein, almost directly south of Petrusburg, which boasts an even bigger man-made diamond hole than the Big Hole of Kimberley. Also on the route are the wine farms of Landzicht and Wilreza around Jacobsdal.
The Erfenis Dam Nature Reserve lies in the grassveld and vlei (marsh) region of the Free State about 18 km east of Theunissen. Beautiful karee and wild olive trees grow along the ridges of the reserve. Animals such as mountain reedbuck, red hartebeest andzebra can be easily spotted in the open grass savannah. The reserve also has many different species of terrestrial and aquatic birds and waterfowl, such as South African shellduck and Egyptian geese. The dam in the reserve is home to several species of fish, such as yellowfish, carp, barbel and Orange River mudfish. Angling is one of the most popular activities in the reserve but visitors can also participate in other water sports, such as skiing, canoeing, paragliding and windsurfing.
The Free State National Botanical Gardens,located on the outskirts of Bloemfontein, houses over 400 species of plants from the region, over 50 species of reptile and over 140 bird species can be found in the water-wise gardens. The gardens are also home to a petrified tree trunk, estimated between 150- and 300-milion-years-old. The Franklin Game Reserve in the heart of the city of Bloemfontein. Established in 1930, it is 1 of only 2 city wildlife reserves in the world. The other is in Hong Kong. Apart from the game, there are many bird species, including Karoo scrub robins, the furry flycatcher and violet-eared waxbills.
Clarens is one of the best fly-fishing destinations in South Africa. Most of the fishing is controlled and managed by the River Rangers, who are available as guides on the various waters. Rivers and dams offer three species of trout; golden, brown and rainbow, and in certain locations bass and yellowfish can be caught. The world-renowned archaeological site at Florisbad lies approximately 40 km Dealesville. This is the site of the famous Florisbad skull discovery; a skull fragment widely accepted as an archaic Homo sapiens (people who were almost, but not entirely modern humans), dating back approximately 260 000 years. A replica of the skull can be seen in the Bloemfontein National Museum.
The Free State’s famous Golden Gate Highlands National Park rests at the foothills of the Maluti Mountains. This protected area is renowned for its impressive sandstone features, most notably The Sentinel buttress.The Sentinel is the most northern point of the Drakensberg mountains and an iconic symbol of this national park. The Sentinel hiking trail takes visitors 3 000m above the Drakensberg Amphitheatre, affording spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. The Ghoya Africa Conservancy was founded in 2001 on the farm Goedehoop and, in collaboration with other local farmers and landowners stretches over 6 000 ha of savannah grassland and hills criss-crossed by rivers, dams and big open skies. The conservancy includes the Moratiwa and Oppie Plaas Nature Reserves and the farm Schuttersrus where the Stadlerheim Wine Cellar is located. The Goedehoop Wine Cellar and Guest House that offers accommodation in a restored 1892 farmhouse, is also part of the conservancy.
Herds of game have been reintroduced and established in this area. River rafting on the Renoster River is great fun. Game and bird hunting is allowed during the hunting season and horse riding and hiking opportunities abound. Four eco-friendly hiking trails, the Ghoya, Springbok, Blesbok and Johnny Walker Trails have been established in the conservancy. The Goldfields Tourism Route route passes through the Lejweleputswa Region of the Free State. Stop over and explore historic towns and the mines around which they were established. Watch as they cast an ingot of gold. Welkom lies at the centre of this tourist region that spans an area of some 9 000 square metres. Some of the well-known gold mining towns on this route are Virginia, Allanridge and Odendaalsrus.
The Horizon Tourism Route compasses towns of Philippolis, Jagersfontein, Fauresmith, Koffiefontein and Jacobsdal. With its slogan “Open spaces & little places,” the route meanders through an enchanting environment with a magic of its own.
The Institute for Contemporary History, on the campus the University of the Free State, exhibits important paintings, busts and objects relating to political leaders and state presidents.
The Jammerbergdrif Battlefieldsite near the Caledon River in the Wepener area witnessed many battles between the Boers and the British. One such battle saw General Christian de Wet and his soldiers attack a British garrison of 2 000 men,in a siege that lasted 17 days. However, when British reinforcements arrived, Boer forces had to retreat. The library in Wepener houses a permanent exhibit of this battle site.
The Koppies Dam Nature Reserve covers an area of 4 300 ha. The reserve is 16 km east of Koppies and is home to several species of birds, some of which are aquatic. Game viewers may also spot white rhino, buffalo and small mammals, such as cane rats. This reserve consists mainly of grassveld and dense thickets of sweet thorn trees, an ideal nesting place for secretary birds. The Korannaberg Conservancy of some 16 000-ha is situated between the towns of Marquard, Clocolan and Excelsior and includes the majestic Korannaberg Mountain Range. Apart from the peace and quiet and spectacular mountain scenery, manyspecies of game and birds can be observed. Several walking, hiking, mountain biking and 4×4 routes have been established in the conservancy.
The Kalkfontein Dam Nature Reserve is located 36 km north of Fauresmith on the Petrusburg-Fauresmith Road. The reserve boasts a good selection of waterbirds, such as the South African shellduck, flamingo and osprey. Kalkfontein is also home to Smith’s red rabbits. The dam is often frequented by anglers in search of yellowfish, Orange River mudfish, barbel and carp.
The Loch Athlone Dam(Bethlehem) is an important water source for the surrounding area, while offering local residents and visitors the chance to relax and take part in a variety of recreational activities. Loch Athlone is a well-equipped leisure resort, which hosts regular regattas and offers boating and angling. The charming Athlone Castir restaurant at the Loch Athlone Dam recalls the atmosphere of the Union Castle liner, with many original items and furnishings. A variety of water sports can be enjoyed on any one of the four dams situated in the vicinity of Bethlehem.
The annual Mangaung Arts & Culture Festival (MACUFE)is the flagship arts and culture programme of the Free State. Staged annually, the festival has become the cultural pilgrimage of the Free State as it attracts artists and arts lovers from across the country, continent and overseas. The festival was launched in 1997. This festival showcases a number of programmes which includes, amongst others Ons Konsert, Comedy Show, Indoor Jazz, Divas Concert and the Main Music Festival. The Maloti Drakensberg Route is a fascinating self-drive tourism route in eastern South Africa. Incorporating parts of the Free State, KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape, it spans a massive area with Lesotho at its heart and the uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park making up its eastern flank. The route was established to provide access to the central eastern mountains of South Africa, and as such includes dozens of activities capitalising on the beauty of these highland areas. In the north and north west, the route takes in the charming Free State towns of Rosendal, Ficksburg, Clocolan, Fouriesburg and Clarens, renowned for its bustling artists’ community.
The Maloti Route forms the gateway to the mountain Kingdom of Lesotho and the Eastern Cape. It starts at Ladybrand (to travel to Ladybrand from Bloemfontein take National Road N8). The route passes Hobhouse (named after Emily Hobhouse, the famous British Human Rights fighter at the time of the Anglo-Boer War), Jammersdrif, Wepener on the Lesotho border, Van Stadensrus, Zastron at the foot of the Aasvoëlberg Mountain Range and further east into the Maluti Mountains in Lesotho. Alternatively, the route passes south-east (on the R726) to Sterkspruit (in the Eastern Cape) or south-west into Rouxville and the Eastern Cape town of Aliwal North and its famous hot springs.
The Maria Moroka Nature Reservelies 70 km east of Bloemfontein on the Thaba ‘Nchu road. The reserve is situated a few km south of Thaba ‘Nchu and next to the Thaba ‘Nchu Sun Hotel and Casino. The reserve encompasses the Montloatse Setlogelo Dam with the impressive Thaba ‘Nchu Mountain in the background. The Maria Moroka Nature Reserve is home to several species of game, such as blackwildebeest, zebra, white rhino, springbuck and blesbuck, as well as to more than a hundred species of birds, including several aquatic species. The Mpharane Nature Reserve (Ficksburg) was named after the nearby Mpharane Mountain and was formerly a mission station. Missionaries planted willow cuttings taken from Napoleon Bonaparte’s grave on the island of St. Helena on this property. The cuttings grew into a profusion of willow trees and the reserve doubles as a forestry station. Mpharane is ideal for game-viewing and visitors are sure to spot many different species of antelope, such as eland, hartebeest, kudu and springbuck, as well as zebra.
Provincial Museums form an integral part of the cultural landscape of the Free State. These museums include the Queens Fort Military and Old Presidency Museums in Bloemfontein, the Transgariep Museum (Philippolis), Pellisier House Museum (Bethulie), Caledon River Museum (Smithfield), Chris van Niekerk Museum (Boshof), Pioneer Museum (Winburg), Free State Farming Museum (Glen), Sarel Cilliers Museum (Kroonstad) and the Rieland Museum(Heilbron). The component also has two literature museums, which is Sesotho and Afrikaans Literary Museums. The Basotho Cultural Village (BVC) in Qwaqwa is the only living heritage museum.
The National Museum, Bloemfontein dates back to 1877, when its collections and displays comprised mainly rarities from around the world. Since then the Museum has developed into an institution of international stature, focusing on natural history, cultural history and art. Intensive research is carried out in these varied disciplines, and valuable and important collections have been established. Through its displays and education programmes, the Museum renders a public service to its diverse audiences, engaging them in enjoyable and enlightening experiences and enriching the learning opportunities of all individuals. The NAMPOAgricultural festival is one of the largest privately-owned and organized agricultural exhibitions in the world and the largest show of agricultural machinery and livestock in the southern hemisphere. The festival is hosted outside the town of Bothaville every year during May. The next NAMPO festival takes place from 14 to 17 May 2013.
The Oliewenhuis Art Museum (Bloemfontein) was formerly the official residence of State Presidents when visited the Free State province. The residence was released to the National Museum to be converted into an art museum.
The Museum is located in one of the most magnificent gardens in the city, a large section of the property comprises natural vegetation bordering on the Museum grounds. It is the only museum of its kind in the Free State and one of the youngest art museums in the country.
The town of Parys has developed a reputation as one of the most popular getaway and holiday spots of the Free Stat. The Vaal River is more than one km wide near the town and is studded with islands, such as Gold Island, Woody Island, Steyn’s Island and Groot Island. The town offers an array of sport, adventure, cuisine, art and galleries and game viewing opportunities.
The Phakisa Freeway is an international standard, multi-purpose motor sport facility situated in the heart of the Goldfields region of the Free State. Phakisa means “Get Moving” in Sotho. The track boasts a 4,24km road course as well as a 1,5 mile banked oval track similar to the highly acclaimed Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada. The Grand Prix road course was designed in conjunction with officials of the FIM and is rated as one of the safest circuits on the GP tour. It is 12m wide throughout and has 14 turns, 5 left and 9 right-hand. Motor-racing events are staged regularly at Phakisa.
The 22 000-ha Qwa-Qwa National Park is located on the Harrismith – Golden Gate Road. It offers the discerning birdwatcher a rich variety of birds, including aquatic birds in the marshy areas, and game-watchers will be able to see a variety of antelope, such as eland, red hartebeest and springbuck, as well as zebra. Thegrassy slopes of the park are an ideal habitat for the marsh rat, an important prey for small carnivores and raptors. Guided horse trails can be undertaken, as well as the two-day Avondrus/Spelonken Hiking Trail. Those who want to do the complete trail can overnight in a hut at Spelonken. The reserve also has three 4×4 routes that will take from three to eight hours to complete, depending on the trail chosen. The trails are closed in summer to minimise damage to the environment. The gorges within the reserve are densely vegetated and trees such as ouhout, white stinkwood, kiepersol, karee, yellowwood and wild olive form part of the abundance of species of plants in the region. Colourful displays of white or different shades of pink and purple cosmos flowers welcome the visitor in autumn. Cosmos is actually an exotic weed but it is particularly attractive when in bloom. Indigenous flowers in the reserve include watsonia, arum, gladioli and scilla.
The Queen’s Fort Military Museum, named for Queen Victoria, is situated in Bloemfontein and has become known in the local folklore, as the Old Fort and later as Fort Bloemfontein. The building was completed in 1849 and it was used both as military headquarters and for the Royal Artillery. It was used from 1913 onwards for the care of mentally ill patients with serious criminal inclinations.The Old Fort now houses the Queen’s Fort Military Museum, depicting all the armed conflicts over the world where Free Staters were involved. The outside exhibits include various armoured vehicles, various cannon, and Impala and Mirage fighter jets. Some of the displays include the two world wars as well as the struggle.
This Rustfontein Dam Nature Reserve lies just off the Thaba ‘Nchu Road, 50 km east of Bloemfontein. The tree-covered hillocks and ridges and grassy plains are home to animals such as wildebeest, blesbuck, springbuck and zebra. The dam inside the reserve is home to several species of waterfowl and Egyptian geese are usually present in large numbers. The natural vegetation is savannah veld dotted with hardy camel-thorn trees. The tops of the camel-thorn trees make ideal nesting places for white-backed vultures. The Rolfontein Nature Reserve has been in existence since 1970 and comprises of 8 000 hectares of mountainous terrain, Karoo plains, little dolerite koppies and densely wooded mountain kloofs. 363 plant species and 53 mammal species can be found in the reserve. The reserve borders on the Vanderkloof Dam.
Sport tourism contributes greatly to the Free State provincial revenue base. Our provincial sport teams know that they have the loyal and even fanatic support of the people of the Free State. The Free State is home to professional teams such as Bloemfontein Celtic, Free State Stars, the Free State Cheetahs and the Knights. Salpeterkrans (Fouriesburg) is the largest sandstone overhang in the southern hemisphere. Wind erosion carved out this magnificent formation, called the Fertility Cave. The cave has been in use since the earliest times, first by the San, then by the local Basotho and other African people. Traditional healers used the cave as a place to conduct their ancient spiritual rites. The mouth of the overhang is protected by a pile of fallen rocks and can easily be missed. Upon entering the cave, it is the accepted custom to light a candle to the ancestors.
The Sandveld Nature Reserve is roughly 37 000 hectares, named after its mostly sandy soils, although there are areas of thornveld savanna and the camel thorn tree makes its presence felt throughout the reserve. White rhino, giraffe, buffalo, sable and roan antelope, buffalo, blue wildebeest, zebra are some of the animal species in the reserve. For birders the main attraction is the Kalahari thornveld, which gives rise to a host of sociable weavers and occasional sightings of the pygmy falcon. But the fawn-coloured lark and the tinkling cisticola, fondly known as “rooitinktinkie”, are also easy to spot in the reserve especially in spring and summer; waxbills, gabar goshawks and tits all put in an appearance, and the pied barbet is fairly common. Even white-backed vultures breed in camel thorn trees in certain parts of Sandveld.
The Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve of approximately 4800ha lies in the foothills of the Drakensberg Mountain,directly north of Memel. The wetland in the reserve covers 3000ha of the 12000ha floodplain. This wetland is one of the biggest and most important natural wetlands in South Africa and has been declared a RAMSAR site. A variety of plant species occur in the reserve.Large flocks of birds visit this unique waterfowl habitat. Scarce and endangered species such as the Wattled, Crowned and Blue Cranes can be seen here. Most of the small mammals in the reserve are nocturnal and the lucky visitor may see serval, aardwolf, otter and aardvark. Smaller game like steenbok and mountain reedbuck can also be seen here. Hippos were re-introduced in 1999. Larger game such as red hartebeest, black wildebeest, zebra, buffalo and roan were also reintroduced.The wetland consists of a unique aquatic habitat with approximately 220 meanders which have formed over centuries in the Klipriver. This marshland is a very important sponge area for the Vaalriver catchment area.
The 7 500 ha Soetdoring Nature Reserve lies 45 km from Bloemfontein. The name “Soetdoring” means “sweet thorn” – an indigenous thorn tree. Animals such as white rhino, eland and springbuck roam the plains of the reserve and kudu, waterbuck, reedbuck and impala find sanctuary in the bushes along the banks of the Modder River. Reptiles and smaller mammals, in the reserve, include the leguaan, the Cape clawless otter, the African wild cat and the water mongoose. The reserve also has aspecial predator park that contains lions and Cape wild dogs. The Modder River enters the reserve on its eastern border, snakes through the reserve and then exits into the Krugersdrift Dam in the west where a large variety of aquatic birds have made their home.
The 18 000-ha Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve lies approximately 23 km from Harrismith on the Harrismith-Bergville Road. The Drakensberg Mountains, with their intricate rock formations and bushy slopes, form a spectacular backdrop to the blue waters of Sterkfontein Dam, renowned for its water sport and angling opportunities, especially yellowfish angling. The reserve that surrounds the dam is famous for its vulture restaurant, a successful Mazda Wildlife project to save the Cape Griffon. Other birds found in the reserve include ibis, korhaan, ground woodpecker and sentinel. Eleven species of game, such as wildebeest, reedbuck and oribi, also inhabit the reserve. At dusk, bats fly around the rocky slopes and marshes. The northern part of the reserve consists of grassy slopes, but tree fern, yellow wood, silky bark, wild peach, cocoa tree, bush guarri and protea abound in the gorges of the southern regions. The wild grape twines into treetops to form a dense leafy canopy that protects the mosses and ferns on the forest floor, as well as the fungi and lichen that grow on the tree trunks. Other adventure tourism possibilities include paragliding and mountain-biking.
A project to breed and rewild the critically endangered South China Tiger was established near Phillipolis in the southern Free State. Thought to be extinct in the wild, there are only about 100 of these tigers left in the world. Eleven South China Tigers have been born at Laohu Valley Reserve since the first two zoo-bred tigers were brought from China in 2003.
Tussen-die-Riviere (“Between the Rivers”) Nature Reserve is the southernmost reserve in the province. It lies 15 km from Bethulie, between the Caledon and Xhariep (Orange) Rivers. The wide-open plains of this reserve are home to antelope such as eland, rhebuck, reedbuck, impala, kudu, hartebeest and zebra. You willalso be able to spot buffalo along the bushy riverbanks. Small nocturnal animals such as porcupine, aardvark, aardwolf and the bat-eared fox make night drives particularly interesting. Warthog has also recently been introduced to the reserve. Fish eagles and black eagles explore the skies and secretary birds scour the grasslands for a morsel to eat. The plant life in the reserve ranges from open grassland to bushy areas on the riverbanks. Many trees, such as willow, wild olive, white stinkwood and star apple,fringe the banks of both rivers.
The University of the Free State and the Central University of Technology are the tertiary centres of excellence of the Free State Province. The Unit Museum, at the Tempe Military Base (Bloemfontein), commemorates the efforts of the “One Special Service Battalion”. This special battalion was created to encourage and employ the many despondent young men who were unemployed as a result of the raging Depression of the 1930s.
The Vredefort Dome is the world’s largest and oldest known meteorite impact site and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated in the northern Free State’s it isthe impact site of a major meteorite, believed to have struck earth two billion years ago. Scientists gauge that the meteorite was 10km in diameter, larger than South Africa’s Table Mountain.It is estimated the impact vaporised 70 cubic kilometres of rock, leaving a 300km-diameter crater. This crater is now represented by a ring of hills, northwest of the impact point, called the Vredefort Hills. They are all that remain of the crater – the other peaks formed by the meteorite impact have since been covered by age-old sediment.
The War Museum of the Boer Republics in Bloemfontein is the only museum in the world dedicated solely to the Anglo- Boer War of 1899 to 1902. The museum does not only provideinsight into the Boer War through its unique art collection, dioramas and exhibits but also brings the visitor closer to understanding the background against which the war took place. The National Women’s Memorial is located on the site of the War Museum. Created by well-known sculptor Anton van Wouw, the Memorial commemorates the 26,000 women and children who died in British concentration camps during the 1899-1902 Anglo-Boer War. The Memel wetland area incorporated into the Seekoeivlei Nature Reserve, two km north of Memel, is one of the largest remaining wetland areas of its kind in SouthAfrica. Some 220 oxbow lakes (small curved lakes in the floodplains of rivers, the remnants of former meanders) have formed over many centuries and now form one of the few remaining sponge areas in the Vaal River catchment area. The area supports a prolific community of birds, especially water birds, and has been declared a Wetland of International Importance (RAMSAR).
The 12 000 ha Willem Pretorius Game Reserve is situated on the Ventersburg Road 150 km north of Bloemfontein. The reserve is divided in two by the Allemanskraal Dam and the Sand River. It houses two of the “Big Five” and the hilly, densely vegetated northern part of the reserve is ideally suited for baboon and certain species of antelope such as mountain reedbuck, kudu and duiker. Karee and white stinkwood trees dot the shady ravines of the Doornberg and Bekkersberg mountains. The southern part of the reserve features open grassy plains inhabited by antelope such as eland, blesbuck, springbuck, wildebeest, hartebeest, as well as by zebra.
The 13 500 ha Xhariep Nature Reserve encompasses Xhariep Dam, and is approximately 200 km south of Bloemfontein. It stretches from the Xhariep Dam Wall in the west to the town of Bethulie in the east. Although the banks of Xhariep Dam boast lush green trees and bushes, the rest of the reserve surrounding the dam is characterised by dramatically contrasting landscapes of hillocks, ridges and rockyoutcrops and dry, open plains with very little vegetation. However, animals such as
springbuck (whose population is larger than that of any reserve in the country), eland and zebra roam freely within the borders of the reserve and birds such as the fish eagle and the Goliath heron live here too. The reserve also houses the State Fish Hatchery.
At the Yeomanry Hill Battlefield site (Lindley) the Boer forces, despite being inferior in number, managed to overpower a much larger British regiment, which surrendered without the consent of its commanding officer.The British Memorial in the town cemetery was erected to commemorate the 443 members of the Yeomanry Regiment who were killed here in May 1900.
The Zastron “Eye” is astrange circular rock formation in the Aasvoëlberge. The Aasvoëlberge is the only place in the Southern Free State where Cape Vultures are found. There are many 4×4 trails, game farms, hunting opportunities, fishing, hiking trails, mountain-biking river rafting opportunities in the Zastron district.