At the end of last year I cancelled my gym contract in an attempt to save some money over the summer break. I vowed to make use of the many yoga DVD’s at home for the time being and to renew my gym contract at the start of the new semester.
Fast-forward to May and needless to say, neither of my vows were kept. I decided to take on an alternative activity in Bloemfontein to redeem myself. My list of options included Park Run on Saturday mornings, wall climbing at the University of the Free State and hitting golf balls at the driving range. I opted for hiking at the Free State Botanical Gardens.
I woke up on Sunday morning, the 7th of May, at 7am and packed the essentials. Upon arrival at the Gardens I was greeted by cheerful staff and paid my R22 entrance fee. A guide directed me towards the trail entrances, where I decided to conquer them all: the Garden & Motshetse (roughly 2km each) and Basotho Iron Age Site and Garden View trails (1km).
The trails were thoroughly enjoyable and not too strenuous. The hike stimulated all my senses: the wild smell of veld; the chatter of the birds; the feeling of the fresh, cold breeze stroking my skin; picturesque views and the taste of my childhood as I munched on peanut butter sandwiches… Even my 6th sense tingled when I came across a wall that stood since the Anglo Boer War. The only aspect of the hike that lacked was an ocean view; the Kiepersol Koppie had a lot of Melkbos but no Strand.
All in all, my expectations were exceeded. If I had to describe the trails in one phrase it would be, “Fairytale-like entrance and exit points with rough-around-the-edges trails.”
The Gardens’ monthly market just so happened to fall on the same day I decided to hike. Thus, as an added bonus, I walked through the market and gardens after my hike. Then, to top it all off, I had a picnic on the luscious green grass in the garden while reading a book.
Seeing as June is Youth Month in South Africa, a walk or run along the trails might be just what you need to remind or reassure yourself of your youthfulness. The trails are suitable for young and old. It is recommended to go in Autumn and Spring. Stock up your backpack with a pair of sunnies, a hat, SPF, H2O, snacks and a camera and go! Don’t forget your binoculars if you are an avid bird watcher.
Call 051 436 3530 or visit http://www.sanbi.org/gardens/free-state for more information.
Happy Youth Month!
A Traveller’s Friend
Here’s some of what’s going on in Bloem this month:
June 13 – Quiz Night @Copper Clover, 18:00-21:00.
June 16 – Bloem Youth Poetry Slam @Pitseng African Restaurant, 17:00-19:00.
June 16 – Asanda Mqiki Live in Bloemfontein – Youth Day @Boho Bistro, 18:00-21:00. Tickets are available at R80 from Boho & R120 at the door.
June 16 & June 17 – Youth Day Celebrations @Scarlet Room, 11:00.
June 17 – Blend Presents: Johnny Luck: The Liquor Cabinet Tour @Blend Restaurant and Bar, 19:00-23:00, R20 entry.
June 24 – Aladdin, a theatrical comedy @Sand du Plessis Theatre, 20:00-22:00. Tickets R90 at Pacofs. Call 051 447 7772.
Bloem Board Games Evenings @CoffeeTalks Cafe, every Thursday from 18:30.