An area of unfound Diversity

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The Xhariep District, named after the !Gariep Dam, exemplifies the peaceful tranquillity of the Free State with its endless open space and vast tracks of farmland. Its diverse landscape holds the evidence of the early San, the movements of the Voortrekkers and the strife of numerous wars whilst also hosting the largest expanse of fresh water in the country at the !Gariep Dam.

Tourism Routes

Two tourism routes, the Maloti Route and the Friendly N6 Route, crosses through the Xhariep District. Rouxville (in the Mohokare Municipality) forms part of the Maloti Route that claims the status of the longest signed tourism route in Southern Africa spanning over parts of Lesotho, the Eastern Cape and Xhariep. Together with Smithfield, Rouxville forms part of the Friendly N6 route, another long route that extends from Bloemfontein in the north to East London in the south, covering over 600 kilometres and spanning two provinces.

Nature and Wildlife

The 22 000 ha Tussen die Riviere Nature Reserve near Bethulie caters for hunters. The reserve offers wildlife enthusiasts good game-viewing, bird-watching and hiking opportunities outside of hunting months. There are three hiking trails, namely the 7-kilometre Middelpunt Hiking Trail, the 12-kilometre Klipstapel Hiking Trail and the 16-kilometre Orange River Hiking Trail. Large populations of diverse game species such as springbok, blesbok, red hartebeest, black wildebeest and blue wildebeest, steenbok, impala, mountain reedbuck, gemsbok, kudu, zebra, eland and even white rhino are found in the reserve.

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The Kalkfontein Dam Nature Reserve near lies 35 km to the north of Fauresmith. The dam of approximately 4 500 ha is an angler’s paradise and special provision has been made to accommodate these sportsmen. There are numerous private game lodges and reserves such as the Letsatsi Private Game Reserve (Bethulie), the Rietpoort Game and Guest Farm (Smithfield) and the Waschbank Game Lodge (Gariep Dam). Tiger Canyons near Phillipolis aims to create a free-ranging, self-sustaining South China tiger population outside Asia.

History and Culture

The history and culture of the District can be found at numerous sites such as;

  • Anglo Boer War Concentration Camp, Bethulie
  • Caledon River Museum, Smithfield
  • The :”Eye” of Zastron – a hole in a sandstone ridge on the hill at Zastron
  • Jagersfontein Open Mine, Jagersfontein
  • Landzicht Wine Cellar, Jacobsdal
  • Louw Wepener Monument, Bethulie
  • Louwrens van der Post Memorial, Phillipolis
  • San Rock Art, Rouxville
  • Street Train, Fauresmith


Forever Resorts Gariep is located 190km south of Bloemfontein and situated on the banks of South Africa’s largest dam, the Gariep Dam. Tour the dam wall with 13km tunnels, view springbok and Cape mountain zebra in the neighbouring reserve and enjoy an extensive range of water sport. Modern conference facilities are available and the resort is an ideal wedding venue. The dam is a water sport enthusiast’s paradise, stretching 90 kilometers in length and 374 square kilometers in size, making sailing, jet skiing and power boating a pleasure.