Together with the festival, also enjoy the spectacular red sandstone mountains of Golden Gate and the Maluti mountain regions, as well as visiting the popular town of Clarens.
Day 1: Thursday, November
We travel via Villiers, Frankfort, Reitz, and Bethlehem to visit and view these quaint little towns. Lunch will be enjoyed in one of these towns. After lunch, we continue with the scenic drive. We visit the Ash River Fallout before arriving in the town of Clarens. Here we then check into our Guesthouse, where we be staying over for the duration of the trip. After checking in at the guesthouse, it is time to relax or to start exploring the town on foot. Dinners will be at different restaurants in town.
Day 2: Friday 20 November
Today is the best day to attend the Cherry festival, as it becomes very busy over the weekend itself. We take the very scenic Highlands route towards Ficksburg. The town nestles between the foot of the Imperani Mountain and the banks of the Caledon River, the border with Lesotho. The district is renowned for the breathtaking sandstone formations of the mountains here. Many of the older buildings in and around the town were built of sandstone. The Cherry Festival is the oldest crop festival in South Africa. It is estimated that there are 500 hectares of cherry trees in the Eastern Free State concentrated mainly in the Ficksburg, Clocolan and Fouriesburg area. There are approximately 250 trees per hectare and the average yield per hectare is 10 tons.
On arrival in Ficksburg, we first drive through the town to visit the main features and buildings in town and enjoy a lovely cup of coffee. Thereafter guests have the opportunity to explore the festival area and town and attend events as per the festival program. Enough time is allowed to explore the whole festival area. At around 15h00, it is time to do a tour of a Cherry farm. We visit the cherry orchards at the Ionia farm. This tour includes a tractor trip to the orchards on the farm for some picking, a tour of the packing shed, information on the cultivation and packing of cherries, plus a punnet to fill and take home. Jams, liqueur, wine, fresh cherries, etc, will be on sale. The farm is on route back to Clarens, so the drive back home will be shorter than this morning.
Day 3: Saturday 21 November
It is time to focus on the natural beauty of the area. During the morning, we travel to Golden Gate National Park. We travel through the park to view the wildlife and birdlife, and interesting rock formations of the park. It is a real photographic delight. After spending quality time in the park we return towards Clarens. The town has a big variety of art galleries and craft shops, all within a very close distance from the main square, and the guesthouse. Guests will have the afternoon to spend at leisure roaming the town and enjoy the real village life. The streets are very safe to walk around in.
Day 4: Sunday 22 November
Guests will have the last opportunity to visit the many craft shops and galleries in Clarens. We then start with the journey back towards the city. We will arrive back in the city in the early to mid-afternoon.