Grade 9 Tour to the Free State
By Liya Valley
On 16 September, the Class of 2019 embarked on an unforgettable adventure to the Free State Province. The first stop – the Vredefort Dome – is a South African World Heritage Site that was formed by a meteorite over two million years ago. It is amazing how many places were affected by the meteorite’s unbelievable impact.
At our next stop, Clarence, we had to climb a mountain to get to our unusual accommodation: actual ox-wagons that had been used in the past. Many would agree that the weirdest experience, however, was the “bucket” shower system.
The following day, we were divided into groups and met our guides. The team-building activities planned for the day showed us that teamwork, logical and critical thinking as well as risk-taking are all part of the fun. The final activity, abseiling (walking down a mountain backwards in a vertical position with ropes) had us singing, praying, crying and even confessing our “trespasses” just in case we didn’t make it.
On Sunday we had an early morning as we had to prepare for departure to the Basotho Cultural Village and Golden Gate Highlands National Park, which is situated near the Lesotho border. Some of the park’s notable features were the caves and shelters displaying San rock paintings. One of the most exciting and memorable parts of the trip was when it snowed during our visit to the van Reënen family graveyard.
On our arrival at the Basotho Cultural Village, our tour guide, Mr Hloni, took us through the evolution of the Basotho people and aspects of their lifestyle. We also had the pleasure of tasting traditional Basotho porridge.
Before heading back to the ox wagon camp, we were allowed to walk around and shop in the Town Square. The following day, we left for Bloemfontein, the capital city.
In Bloemfontein, we had the opportunity to take pictures with the eight-metre-tall statue of the late Nelson Mandela and we then headed to the Naval Hill Planetarium where we learnt about the Milky Way, constellations and many more “heavenly” highlights.
On day five, we departed from City Road Lodge for Siloam village which is situated at Lake Gariep, just below the southern part of the Free State region. Upon our arrival, we were separated into our teams which were named after different animals.
Before starting our activities, we were warned: “You are going to get dirty and leave with a few scratches”.
What an understatement! After an assortment of crazy events, we were confronted with the best activity: the obstacle course which included a mud pit. Oh what glorious fun! All in all, our trip was fun-filled, and while our bodies were very cold, our hearts and minds were balanced with knowledge, joy and sisterhood.