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Free State

Travel Guide Africa South Africa Free State

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Introduction

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

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The Free State is a province in South Africa, located in the central parts of the country. It might not be as attractive as many other parts of the country, but it has a charm of its own. It is a land of vast open skies and hilly or even flat areas full of sunflowers. The western portion is quite mountainous though, especially the area along the border with Lesotho. The Free State is a rural province of wide horizons and blue skies, with farmland, mountains, goldfields and widely dispersed towns. This tranquil land of the windmill is famous for its warm South African hospitality and a mix of culture which is clearly evident in street names, public buildings, monuments and museums.

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Sights and Activities

Golden Gate Highlands National Park

Unusual for South Africa, The Golden Gate National Park doens't charge an entry fee, and you can drive through it hassle-free. The park is famous for its sandstone cliffs, and beautiful scenery, although don't expect to see too many animals on route.

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Events and Festivals

World Cup 2010

The big upcoming event on the South African horizon is of course the FIFA World Cup beginning on the 11th of June 2010. One of the most prestigious and popular world sporting events, the World Cup 2010 promises to bring throngs of passionate supporters from around the globe. Held once every four years, it's a football tournament (known as soccer in South Africa) where 32 world nations vie for the famous golden trophy.

Bloemfontein will be hosting some of the World Cup matches at the Free State Stadium, which has a capacity of 48,070.

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Getting There

By Plane

Bloemfontein Airport (BFN) is the main gateway and has several flights, including South African Express to Cape Town and Johannesburg, Airlink to Durban and Port Elizabeth and Mango to Cape Town.

By Train

Shosholoza Meyl has the following trains across the Free State, stopping Bloemfontein:

  • Cape Town - Durban via Kimberley, Bloemfontein, Kroonstad and Ladysmith, 36 hours, tourist and economy class both once weekly
  • Johannesburg - East London via Bloemfontein, 20 hours, economy sleeper class, daily except Saturday
  • Johannesburg - Port Elizabeth via Kroonstad, Bloemfontein and Craddock, 21 hours, tourist class twice a week and daily economy class (except Saturday).

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Getting Around

By Car

If you would like to travel around by car, there are numerous car rental companies available from the airports and downtown locations. Just make sure that you have sufficient insurance to cover you if the need arises. Some of them offer the possibility to reduce excess (the amount you pay when involved in an accident) for a daily fee. Car hire companies include Avis, Imperial, CABS, First Car Rental as well as many other international and local ones. Usually, the local ones are cheaper but don't have the same standard as the international ones, which have more branches throughout the country and therefore are able to help you more quickly if needed.

If travelling by car, be sure to plan your routes carefully to insure that there are sufficient places to fill the tank with petrol as some towns are located quite a distance apart with no filling stations in between. It's a good idea to fill up with fuel when you have about half a tank left if possible.

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Sleep

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This is version 9. Last edited at 6:44 on Oct 16, 13 by Utrecht. 3 articles link to this page.

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