Ficksburg, Eastern Free State Highlands
The small but thriving town of Ficksburg on the border of the Eastern Free State Highlands and Lesotho calls itself the ‘Cherry Capital of the World’, and it has become popularly nick-named ‘Cherry Town’. Ficksburg is also the Free State ‘Gateway’ to Lesotho and the notorious Katse Dam – the second largest reservoir dam on the African Continent.
Situated along the west bank of the Caledon River, Ficksburg is a good destination for those seeking adventure activities in the surrounding sandstone mountains, or in neighbouring Lesotho, and is otherwise notable as a tourist destination for the annual Cherry Festival held each year in late November, since 1968. The family activity-filled Festival has grown very large over the years and is attended annually by over 20 000 people. In addition to the Cherry Ball, the festival is a chance to taste all the wonderful products that can be made of cherries, including cherry liqueur, and is a fitting addition to a harvest of around 5000 tons of different types of cherries.
Hikes and walks in the surrounding area and at the Moolmanshoek Private Game Reserve offer many places to see San Bushman Rock Art. This Reserve also offers hiking trails, including the 2 or 3-day Waterkloof Hiking Trail, as well as a host of other activities from 4 x 4 trails to horse-riding.
Nearby Meulspruit Dam on the border of the Imperani Nature Reserve offers trout fishing, hiking, mountain biking and game viewing.
Like other towns in the Eastern Free State, the architecture bears testament to the art of building with sandstone, but it is the Maluti Mountain backdrop along with the willow-lined Caledon River and the surrounding cherry and apple orchards that really give Ficksburg its unique and very special appeal.
Ficksburg is also South Africa’s premier asparagus producer, and the only place in South Africa that produces glace cherries…
Getting there: From Bloemfontein take the N8 (R709) east toward Botshabelo and Thaba Nchu. Continue on to the R26 through Ladybrand. The road swings north north east. Follow the R26 to Ficksburg.