The City of Roses, as Bloemfontein is affectionately known, is the capital of the Free State province. The Supreme Court of Appeal sits in Bloemfontein and, as a result, the city serves as South Africa’s judicial capital.
When planning a trip to Bloemfontein, you can fly on Mango Airlines from Cape Town International Airport or drive from Johannesburg to Bloemfontein via the N1 national road.
Here some highlights to look forward to when visiting Bloemfontein ...
The Cheetah Experience is a non-profit conservancy whose mission is to educate the general public about various endangered species of wildlife in South Africa, including cheetahs, leopards, male non-breeding lions, servals, caracals and African wildcats.
Located at 1 Maluti Avenue, the Cheetah Experience offers various guided tours (educational, school and photography) in an effort to encourage the public to work together and protect endangered and threatened animals. The project also runs a curio and coffee shop, where visitors can stop for a snack or to buy some arts and crafts.
Educational tours: these last between 60 and 90 minutes. A trained guide takes visitors around the Cheetah Experience project, providing insights on the animals found there and the opportunity to photograph some of the animals in the sanctuary.
Photography tours: these prebooked two-hour guided tours are a great way for photographers to get up close to big cats.
School tours: the Cheetah Experience project also offers prebooked guided tours for groups of more than 20 pupils, from Grade R to Grade 12. Tours are curated by knowledgeable guides to suit the needs of the group depending on age, size and desired learning outcomes.
For more information and tour bookings, contact +27 (0)72 905 3457 or email email@example.com.
Free State National Botanical Garden
Bloemfontein is an Afrikaans word meaning “flower fountain”, and located on the arid outskirts of the town lies the Free State National Botanical Garden.
This botanical garden is characterised by dolerite koppies, and wild olive and karee trees, and is home to more than 400 plant species, about 150 bird species, 54 species of reptile and about 30 mammal species.
Visitors can enjoy a much-needed timeout from their busy schedules in this tranquil oasis, which covers 70ha and offers hiking trails into wooded koppies with views of a dam and bird hide.
Besides hiking and birdwatching, the Free State National Botanical Garden is a fantastic place for those who enjoy running and walking. It’s also great for picnics on the lush green lawns. There are braai facilities available.
If you’re looking to host an event into the evening, you can book the magnificent lapa, housed in a semi-open sandstone building. There’s also a food and art market that takes place every last Sunday of the month, a curio shop and plant nursery.
For more information, contact +27 (0)51 436 3530 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The National Museum
The National Museum is located at 36 Aliwal Street and is a Declared Cultural Institution in terms of the Cultural Institutions Act and is governed by a council appointed by the Department of Arts and Culture. It was founded on 20 July 1877 and serves as a hub for natural history, cultural history and art.
It boasts a 200-seater auditorium with a data projector and sound system, 13 research departments, an art museum, an education department, a library, an administration section and two technical departments.
Curator Hereditatis is the museum’s motto, meaning “it regards itself as a custodian of our heritage”. It facilitates various tours and exhibitions in acarology, botany, archaeology, rock art and mammalogy, among other disciplines, with displays and curriculum-based education programmes that focus on schoolgoing youth during school terms.
There are also on-site podcasts featuring extensively researched biodiversity lectures, which interested members of the public can access.
The museum is fully accessible to disabled people and also features touch exhibitions that cater to people who are visually impaired, with Braille descriptions as well as an audio guide in English, Afrikaans and Sesotho.
For more information, contact +27 (0)51 447 9609 or email email@example.com.
Naval Hill Planetarium
The Naval Hill Planetarium is located at the Centre for Earth and Space at the University of the Free State’s Bloemfontein campus. The planetarium was officially opened on 1 November 2013 and is the first digital planetarium of its kind in Africa south of the Sahara.
Since its inception, the hugely popular planetarium atop Naval Hill, within the Franklin Nature Reserve, has become a huge drawcard for eco- and astrotourism in Bloemfontein, and has attracted thousands of visitors, from schoolgoing youth to general members of the public.
Tours offered in the dome theatre offer a high level of scientific education through documentaries about stars, planets and the solar system. This experience is amplified by a state-of the-art projector system.
Once you’re here you can also take an outdoor excursion within the Franklin Nature Reserve for a scenic walk and the chance to spot wild game such as wildebeest, zebra and blesbok.