Ficksburg is located in the eastern Free State, and is considered the gateway to Lesotho, the small mountain kingdom landlocked by South Africa. The town lies between the Imperani Mountains and the Caledon River, with the imposing Maluti Mountains in the distance.
The town is surrounded by undulating hills and farmlands. It is the hub of an agricultural area producing deciduous fruit, asparagus and cherries. Cherries are a major source of pride in the town, and surprisingly, Ficksburg is known as the cherry capital of the world! In honour of its status and indeed the cherries themselves, the town holds an annual cherry festival which is touted as the oldest crop festival in South Africa.
While current-day Ficksburg is renowned for farming in general and cherries in particular, it was initially established to protect the border between what were then Basotholand and the Orange Free State. The man in charge of this task was General Jan Fick, after whom the settlement was named when it was established in 1883.
Ficksburg's setting amongst the mountain and the river is beautiful and there is something wonderfully bucolic about a farming town. Besides enjoying the general ambience though, there are a couple of interesting things to do in and around the town.
It goes without saying that tours of the cherry farms are offered regularly and you can buy a cherry tree and the fruits in town. There are numerous small art galleries to enjoy and for a novel experience, catch a ride on White Mischief, Africa's only floating cigar bar. You can also visit the McKinley Chocolate factory and for something completely different, visit the Motouleng Heritage Site also known as the Fertility Caves, which is the largest cliff overhang in the southern hemisphere and a sacred place where traditional healers and sangomas go to learn and get in touch with their ancestors.
Of course there is plenty of hiking in the surrounding mountains and there are many San rock art sites to visit too.
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