Harrismith is located in the east of the province of Free states and is halfway the N3 highway that connects Johannesburg and Durban. The N5 from Bloemfontein ends in Harrismith and understandably this is for many a stop for gasoline and something to eat during a long (er) journey. Harrismith is located at the beautiful Van Rheenen Pass that connects the provinces of Free States and Kwazulu Natal. But there is more to do in the Harrismith area and for tourists it can be a good base for visiting the Golden Gate Highlands Park (with a Basotho cultural village), the northern part of the spectacular uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park in the Kwazulu Natal province or the Sterkfontein Dam.

The first two parks are located about 50 km from Harismith and have a breathtaking natural beauty and are very suitable for walks, hikes, mountain biking or simply enjoying the fantastic landscape.

Harrismith owes its name to the British governor Sir Harry Smith, the town of Ladysmith, 90 kilometers away, is named after his wife. Harrismith was founded in 1849 in a place located on the Elands River about 25 km from the current Harrismith. However, this place turned out not to be suitable due to a shortage of water during the dry periods of the year and so a year later a shift to the Wilge River was chosen. 

During the Diamond Rush with large diamond finds in Kimberley, Harrismith was an important place on the trade route to Natal and hotels, shops, etc. were opened during the Anglo-Boere war. The place was used as a base and today the military cemetery still remembers at this time. Long before Harrismith was founded, bushmen were already living in the area, witness the bushman paintings in a cave some 5 km outside the city.

Harrismith is not only a stop for travelers but also for transport and freight traffic, it has the largest truck stop in the southern hemisphere: Highway Junction. Harrismith is also the center of one of the five wool-producing areas in southern Africa. The town itself has a number of beautiful buildings from the beginning of the 19th century such as the Town Hall made of sandstone and bricks dating from 1907.

One of the best-known natural features of the eastern part of the Free State is the Platberg. This mountain near Harrismith has a flat top of no less than 9 kilometers in length, the height of the mountain is 2394 meters. The Platberg Reserve is popular for hiking and mountain biking. Moose, wildebeest, waterbuck and blesbok live in the reserve. In October a running and mountain bike competition is held on the Platberg during the Berg Bohaai Festival.

A place about 23 kilometers from Harrismith that is worth a visit is the Sterkfontein Dam Nature Reserve (18,000 hectares). The reserve is a favorite among bird watchers as there are more than 200 species to be found including various species of vultures, eagles, ibises and the korhaan. But it is also a suitable place for taking long walks, hiking and mountain biking. The Sterkfontein Dam (7000 hectares) is the third largest dam in South Africa and is a good place for fishing, canoeing and windsurfing. The reserve consists of mountains, gorges and grassland and this provides a beautiful landscape.
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