Travel: Rosendal – A State Of Quiet Freedom, Or Crafting Some Quiet Time

May 31, 2024


South Africa offers a variety of getaway destinations, ranging from beaches pristine mountains. For business people flying into South Africa, there are also numerous options available for a quick weekend away or for longer stays. I flew into South Africa for a short break and opted for peace and quiet, so I travelled to a small town in the Eastern Free State called Rosendal. This little town is situated on the edge of the Witteberg mountain range, which forms part of the magnificent Maluti Mountains.

Rosendal is slowly becoming a sought-after tourism destination, with a growing number of guesthouses and places to eat to accommodate all the visitors. Weekends are busy and most of the places to eat and art galleries are only open during weekends. Then there is a local street market every last Saturday of the month that draws large groups of day visitors from the neighbouring towns.

It’s a photographer’s paradise, offering picture opportunities ranging from old sandstone buildings to the great outdoors, and artists and writers come from far and wide for inspiration. It’s also a place where families can come and reconnect, enjoy good food and safely ride their bicycles on the dusty town roads. Those feeling more energetic you can test their mountain biking skills on one of the number of different trails. Rosendal offers a variety of activities, including horse-riding in a nature reserve surrounded by wildlife, testing your 4×4 driving skills or joining a sunset tour up a mountain with a local guide where you can enjoy sundowners in a cave. The town has also experienced a sudden growth in property development, largely influenced by the COVID pandemic, as more people realised they were able to work from home and do not need to stay in big cities.

Since I wanted to get away with my wife and enjoy time away from our busy schedule, we opted to visit during the week. We were pleasantly surprised by the number of restaurant and attractions open, and since the place is small, we dug out our hiking boots and explored on foot, looking at the old houses and the magnificent church, all built from sandstone. Walking makes you hungry and thirsty, and we ended up stopping at the Oppidam Coffee Shop, enjoying homemade pecan nut pie with a big dollop of fresh cream from a nearby dairy farm. Plus awesome coffee.

We also visited Kaboedel Glass & Fibre Arts, where you can buy hand-crafted items, and were lucky to have Dewald, a glass artist, show us around the gallery. He shares the gallery with his wife Zaria, also well-known for her work, which includes painting, mosaics, pottery, spinning, weaving and hand-painted yarns.

One of the highlights of our visit was Benjamin’s. This local eatery is well known for its waffles (the Brie and fig option is delicious) and for the two donkeys, Oscar and Basjan, that are always available for a cuddle. We stayed at the Studio Cottage, a restored art studio built from wood and hidden under trees. This self-catering venue is situated on the edge of town and, thanks to big widows, you can sit in bed enjoying a morning coffee while looking at a field filling up with colour as the sun starts filling the area with light, with cattle grazing on the other side of the fence. What more do you want to recharge your body and soul?

Isuzu South Africa provided me with the new Isuzu X-Rider double cab pick-up, giving me the opportunity to take some of the backroads around Rosendal. We drove on one of these backroads to Iona Cherry Farm, where we tasted cherry liqueur and jam. From Iona we continued to Fouriesburg, another little town worth spending a weekend in to explore, where we stopped at the Orange Apple for lunch. We returned in the late afternoon, passing the famous Destiny Castle overlooking the hills of the Eastern Free State.

The Isuzu X-rider, with its 2.5l engine, provided more than enough power to travel comfortably and the comfortable seats, stylish interior and media entertainment touch screen radio, plus Bluetooth phone links, met all our needs. The media entertainment hub also offers the opportunity to put on a video for the kids through the USB connector point. The vehicle also features Command Terrain Dial, a rotary dial mounted behind the gearstick, which allows you to easily engage four-wheel drive on the move, and allows you to access low-range gears, so you can climb up and over what lies ahead with ease.

In Rosendal, life is slow, and it’s the perfect place to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. It’s just more than three hours’ drive from Johannesburg via the Riemland tourism route, and an ideal base for day trips to Katse Dam and Afriski in neighbouring Lesotho, or for a visit to Golden Gate National Park. There are also numerous small towns in the area that can be explored, such as Clarens, Ficksburg, Senekal and Fouriesburg.


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