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The small town is located at the foot of the Platberg, was founded in 1849 on the banks of the Wilge River, making it one of the oldest towns in the northern Free state. He got his name after Sir Harry Smith, the then governor of the Cape Colony.
The Botanical Gardens and Block House are about 5 kilometres east of the centre, at the foot of the Platberg, and in it are many of the plants found in the various vegetation zones of the northern Drakensberg. In the park you will find a log cabin, which was built in the second Boer War.
City Hall The Town Hall of Harrismith – The town hall with its brick facade is one of the largest buildings of its kind in South Africa and also houses the local tourist office as well as a small museum of local history. Clinker facades are not as popular in South Africa, but were introduced in the mid-19th century by the British shortly and nice examples can be found in the southern Midlands.
In the Debora Retief Garden (named after the daughter of Piet Retief) are several monuments that remind of the Voortrekker, the Boer Wars and the fallen in World War I and an impressive 250 million year old, 27 meter long fossilized tree trunk.
Platberg Nature Reserve – The 7,000-hectare Plattberg Nature Reserve connects directly to the Botanical Garden and covers the entire Plattberg area. The reserve is home to ducklings, ostriches, baboons and a variety of antelope species, such as wildebeest, cow, eland and white-tailed antelopes, as well as more than 120 different bird species.
Through the nature reserve leads a circular walk about 20 kilometers long, which leads over the summit of the Plattberg. From the top you have a wonderful panoramic view of Harrismith, the Sterkfontain Dam and with a bit of luck also to the Maluti mountains. There are various picnic areas along the way and also an overnight hut. Every year at the beginning of October, the Plattberg is the venue for a historic mountain run.
Qwa-Qwa – The former smallest homeland of South Africa, located about 45 kilometers west of Harrismith, and near it is the interesting Qwa-Qwa Nature Reserve, with its Basatho Cultural Village. The name “Qwa-Qwa” means “white-white” in the language of the KhoiKhoi and is probably derived from the often snow-capped white mountain tops of a nearby mountain.
In the vicinity of the village there are several smaller reservoirs, with accommodation, as well as various one- and multi-day hiking tours in the Drakensberg.
Sterkfontein Nature Reserve Sterkfontein Nature Reserve – The Sterkfontein Nature Reserve is located about 20 kilometres southwest of Harrismith and in the center, the approximately 18,000 -acre, protected area is the reservoir of the same name. The towering Drakensberg Mountains form a spectacular panorama to the southwest.
The north of the reserve is mainly characterised by mountain grassveld, which turns into a wonderful sea of flowers in spring, and in the southwestern part, on the slopes and in the gorges of the Drakensberg, grow ferns, yellowood, wild peach and various other tree and bush species. Mountain goats, hartebeest, ibex, duiker and other mammals feel well in the landscape. Among the most diverse bird species, some of the vultures to be observed are particularly noteworthy.
Several shorter as well as longer trails lead through the countryside and on the way there are plenty of picnic areas. The reservoir itself is very popular with anglers and water sports. You can spend the night in a camp on the eastern shore of the lake and there are different sized huts and a campsite available.