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Introducing Free State

The Free State is one of South Africa’s most relaxed provinces, where the country’s notorious crime rate seems to dissolve into friendly smiles. It’s a place where big skies, unbroken horizons, pistachio hills and craggy sandstone massifs are interrupted only briefly by a smattering of towns and villages.

Lying between the Vaal and Senqu (Orange) Rivers, with Lesotho nestled into the crook of its beanlike shape, the Free State is South Africa’s heartland – her breadbasket. Here, farmers in floppy hats drive ancient sheep-packed bakkies (pick up trucks) down dusty roads, and brightly painted Sotho houses languish by giant yellow sunflowers and rows of green corn.

The colour divide here remains stark and dreams of an Afrikaner Arcadia live on. Progress, however, is happening – in the buzzing university town of Bloemfontein, you’ll find blacks and whites dining together with increased frequency. And even in the smallest rural enclaves the colour barrier is slowly starting to dissolve.