Touring South Africa: National Women’s Monument

During the Second Boer War in South Africa, an estimated 27,000 women were reported to have died in British concentration camps. Some historians and researchers put the estimated figure much higher than the official 27,000 stated by public records. This is the foundation of the famous National Women’s Monument in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

Construction of the monument began in the early 1900s a few years after the Boer War had ended in 1902, and was completed and commissioned in 1913 precisely on the 16th of December that year.

The monument aims to commemorate and remember the 27,000 women and children who lost their lives while being kept in British concentration camps at the peak of the war. The standout monument at the grounds is a sculptured bronze statue depicting women and a dying child in one of the concentration camps designed by Emily Hobhouse who herself had been held in one of the concentration camps during the war.

There are also several other smaller statues and monument at the grounds and tourists are usually taken on a tour by tour guides who even double as historians and tell the history behind every monument to the visiting tourists.

The monument is free to visit grounds and is usually frequented by tourists who visit Bloemfontein for the first time.

Visiting South Africa: The Cheetah Experience

South Africa is a country very well known for its strong protection of her wildlife and endangered species with dozens of specialised parks and nature reserves across the country to protect these amazing animals who find themselves on the brink of extinction due to human activities such as poaching and land encroachment.

Most of these protected and specialised areas are properties of government, founded by the state and run by the country’s body in charge of tourism. However, there are a few run by private organisations and also non-governmental bodies.

The Cheetah Experience, found in Bloemfontein is one of such centres, founded and run as a Non-governmental organisation that seeks to protect the Cheetah population of Bloemfontein as well as other wildlife belonging to the cat family.

Among the animal population at the park include the Lions, wildcats, a Siberian tiger, leopards, meerkats and cheetahs with the cheetah’s population dominating at the centre.

While it may be categorised as a tourist centre due to the high number of visitors and tourists the centre receives regularly, Cheetah Experience is also considered a learning centre. Tourists who visit the centre are usually taken around the facility to see the animals and take some memorable pictures for their memory albums, but beyond that, the tourists are taken through a series of lessons regarding wildlife protection.

The Bloemfontein Zoo and how an animal developed a smoking habit

The city of Bloemfontein has been touted as a major tourism and cultural hub of South Africa, boasting of many astounding attractions which bring people from all over the country to the city every year, with millions of tourists visiting.

And if there is one attraction that stands out or can be regarded as the most popular of them all, and for which reason people travel from near and far to the city, then it is the ever popular Bloemfontein zoo situated right in the heart of the city.

The zoo was originally built in 1920 making it one of the oldest and most iconic zoos in Africa, with an envious animal population that runs into hundreds of different wildlife species.

The 15 hectares land zoo is also well known for its large collection of primates; most of whom can be seen swinging from trees to trees when taking strolls through the facility. Equally the zoo boasts of a large bird population as well as other mammals including the lion, tiger, elephants, giraffe and other endangered wildlife species.

For visitors who may want to spend more than a few hours there, Bloemfontein Zoo provides accommodation services that enable visitors to spend the night at the facility at a small fee.

Fun Fact

A couple of years ago, one of the apes in the zoo, known as Charlie the Ape was discovered to have developed a smoking habit after continuously seeing visitors stroll through the zoo smoking and mimicking them. Efforts were made by animal experts and vets to help Charlie quit the bad habit. Charlie died in 2010 aged 52.

Bagamoya Wildlife Estate: Where tourists interact with wild creatures

The mere mention of big cats like lion, cheetah, Leopards and tigers strike fear into some people if not all, but what if I tell you there is a place in this world where you can interact with these monstrous and powerful creatures, getting close to them and even touching them?

You probably are saying no, thanks. Well that’s totally understandable and fine but what if you could choose to interact and have physical contact with the cubs instead and even bottle-feed them? Sounds cool right? Well that is exactly what the Bagamoya Wildlife Estate in Bloemfontein, South Africa offers visitors.

Tourists who visit the facility get to interact with the wildlife at the estate, especially the cub lions, cheetahs, tigers and leopards who are too young to attack or pose danger to visitors.

For the brave hearts who wish to test their resolve and braveness, they are allowed to have physical contact with the old big cats but under the very strict supervision of tour guides.

Aside the big cats, Bagamoya Wildlife Estate also houses other herbivorous wildlife like the giraffe, elephants, zebra and antelopes in a different section of the estate and with the help of tour guides, rides can be taken  to that section to see these incredible and friendly creatures.

For tourists who intend to feed the lions and cheetahs, it is advisable to make a call to the zoo a day before and find out the feeding schedule before making the trip to the facility.

Anglo-Boer War Museum: Remembering a brutal war

Once upon a time a brutal territorial war was fought between the indigenous people of South Africa referred to as Boers and the British army who had been sent to the southern African territory to conquer the land and make it a British colony.

The war took the lives of thousands of soldiers and occurred several times between 1880 and the roughly 1902 until the indigenous people (Boers) conceded defeat and reluctantly accepted indirect British rule over their lands. While the British may have won the last war, the Boers were victorious in most of the previous wars and managed to keep their independence until 1902.

Many historians regard the war as one of the most brutal wars in the era of civilisation, estimated to have taken more than 75,000 lives, including 22000 British soldiers and over 30,000 Boers including children and women.

With the war being over, apartheid a thing of the past, the state of South Africa decided to establish a museum solely dedicated to the Anglo Boers War of the 19th century. It was this idea that led to the creation and establishment of the iconic Anglo-Boers War Museum in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

The Museum offers tourists and visitors an opportunity to get up close with some of the historical artefacts such as weapons, shackles, and other tool that were used by soldiers on both sides during the infamous wars.

More importantly, Anglo Boer War Museum serves as a learning centre where people can visit and learn more about the Anglo-Boer war, understanding what brought about the war and why it had to take so many lives to come to an end.

While it is a museum and mainly visited by tourists, it has also become an academic centre where historians and academicians go to carry out further research regarding the Anglo-Boer wars.

For the lovers of history, this museum offers an ideal opportunity to learn and increase your knowledge base, this time on one of the most famous wars fought in the history of man in the era of civilisation.

Free State National Botanical Garden

Noone hates beautiful gardens, and no one would forgo the opportunity to visit some amazing and incredible botanical gardens, especially one like the Free State Botanical Garden where beauty collides with nature to create an incredibly unique natural scenic environment.

The Free State Botanical Garden, located in Bloemfontein is arguably one of the finest gardens and natural attractions in South Africa serving as a major tourist spot for travellers who visit the rainbow nation, specifically Bloemfontein.

Occupying a land size of approximately 70 hectares, the Free State Botanical Garden boasts of housing more than 400 species of plants and flowers, some of which are among the rarest in Africa.

Aside from its wonderful plant population, the garden also has other major attractions including a replica of an ancient cave which is believed to have been home to the ancient people who resided in the park, a small lake that is situated in a section of the garden, and an incredible bird population comprising of 145 species.

Reptiles are also known to exist in the park, living in the lake and the dense woodlands part of the garden but are in small numbers compared to the bird population.

And to add to the fun that comes with visiting the garden, the facility is also a major picnic ground where families, friends and various groups go to camp and spend some good time together eating and drinking.

For all the many attractions in Bloemfontein, if you are looking for something more natural, beautiful and colourful, the Free State Botanical Garden will not be a bad choice.