Clarens – where history, art & breath-taking beauty live in perfect harmony

Behind the façade of a quaint village filled with an eclectic mixture of people and cultures, set against the foothills of the Maluti Mountains, as well as the surrounding Rooiberge with a myriad of colors that change in these sandstone mountains as the sun moves, lies a history that’s over 100 years old in Clarens.

The Maluti Mountains have stood for millennia in the highlands of Lesotho, and these mountains, as they extend up to 100km into eastern Free State, are also part of the well-known, well-loved Drakensberg Mountain Range.

The vibrantly beautiful valley that became home to Clarens has created a holiday destination that’ll take your breath away, no matter how many times you explore the valley and the village, which is precisely why so many people return again and again, to drink in the inexpressible magic created between these majestic mountains.

The story behind the birth of Clarens Village in the Free State

Around 1640, the Dutch East India Company allowed the burghers (which refers to an Afrikaans citizen of a Boer Republic) to gain their release from previously established contracts with the VOC, and to grant them each 200 acres for each household in the then known Boer Republic.

With the growth of the community of burghers in the area, two farms were divided and sold to a company that wanted to establish a village in the area to serve the community, which led to the establishment of Clarens in 1912.

The name of the village was a tribute to President Paul Kruger due to his influence over the area, before he left to spend the rest of his life in voluntary exile in the town of Clarens in Switzerland.

The oldest animal inhabitants of this region

The very oldest inhabitants of this region were not human, they were the massive prehistoric, gargantuan dinosaurs, and, today you are able to follow in their footsteps on the Dinosaur trail to explore bones and teeth that still lie exposed to us today.

Cultural history

Long before the first Europeans appeared in the eastern Free State, the hunter gatherer clans of the Bushman people roamed these valleys and mountains in complete freedom. However, when the first Dutch settlers arrived in the early 1800’s and war broke out between them and the Basotho nation the first time in 1858, the San People/Bushman, a peace loving people who lived in pure harmony within their clans and with nature, chose to leave the area. 

All that is left of them are the stories told in some of the most beautiful Bushman rock art in and around Clarens. This rock art is indicative of the spirituality that existed in this culture, which would obviously never tolerate or be able to live alongside violence.

Three Wars; the British, Boer and Basotho

Between 1858 and 1868, war dominated the area around Clarens. First it was among the Basotho and other African tribes, and then it was war between the Basotho and Boer, and finally, the Anglo-Boer war.

The evidence of these wars is to be seen at various historical sites in and around Clarens, so, if you’re a history buff, you’ll be fully sated after a visit to Clarens!

Peace finally reigned over the Clarens valley

After the final Anglo-Boer War, peace descended on this beautiful valley, which today is affectionately called The Jewel of the Free State, a peace perfectly befitting all that is extraordinary about Clarens.

There’s more to Clarens than history…

…however, that’s for you to find out once you’ve booked the best accommodation in Clarens, with the award-winning team at Clarens Eddies B&B/Self Catering!

Make your booking today and find out more about what to do in Clarens, and why this is one of the most creative and exciting towns you could ever choose as a holiday destination!