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PARYS, JEWEL OF THE VAAL RIVER

Less than an hour’s drive (120km) from Johannesburg, you will find Parys, the Jewel of the Vaal River in the Northern Freestate. It is a fast developing country town in the Vredefort Dome Area which is the oldest and largest meteorite impact site in the world. Here you will experience a touch of old world grace with all the luxuries of the modern world and tons of warm friendliness from the people of the town. 

Vredefort
is a small town with cattle, peanuts, sorghum, sunflowers and maize being farmed. The town was established in 1876 on a farm called Visgat. Several suggestions were put forward about the origin of the name Parys. The most commonly accepted being that it was suggested by Mr. Schilbach, a German land surveyor who served in the Franco-Prussian and had taken part in the siege of Paris. A big point in favour of his naming the new town “Parys” was its close proximity to the Vaal. In his mind he saw it developing on both sides of the river like Paris. One thing he did not keep in mind was the fact that each side of the river was in different province. 

Johannesburg was looked upon as a short-term place. It being a well known fact that most gold deposits usually run out fairly quickly. So in Mr. Schilbach’s view, Parys was the city of the future!

The town is home to some lovely historical buildings including the Anglican Church, built in 1915, of blue granite blocks and the beautiful Dutch Reformed Church dating back to 1899. At the Parys Museum, housed in the old magistrate’s office opposite the Town Hall, visitors can take a peek into the history of the town. It was built in 1904 and proclaimed a provincial heritage site in 1986.

Parys is one of the towns in South Africa with the highest per capita investment number and has become one of the most exclusive areas for property investments. It has two unique 18 hole Golf Estates which were both developed on Islands in the Vaal River.  These are the only Golf Estates situated on Islands in Africa. One having been designed by the well known Nick Price.

The town also acquired a reputation as an arts and antique hub with a growing number of visitors and shoppers.  Many well-known artists, antique dealers, craftsmen and former city dwellers have made Parys their home.

Research shows that 9000-12000 vehicles pass through Parys on a busy day. Geographically, Parys is one of the most centrally situated towns in South Africa, with 75% of the country’s population living within a 200 km radius!

Unique features in and around Parys are:- The islands that are dotted along the Vaal River, the largest indoor horse

arena in the Southern Hemisphere and the largest thatched structure in the Southern Hemisphere. Also the only place on earth where you will find pink granite.

 
 ACCOMMODATION

Some of the guesthouses in town have the added attraction of being on the banks of the Vaal River which contribute to a breathtaking view. Others are within walking distance of the famous Breë Street with all its little shops or the Afri-Dome with all its horse shows, cattle auctions and expos. A short walk through the tree lined streets in this relatively crime free town might just be what is needed to get rid of all the daily stress of city life.

The visitor will soon learn that most of the guesthouses have something to make them unique. This may range from heated swimming pools to guesthouses being 120 years old. Some of these places boast with original steel ceilings and floor boards.

Both self catering cottages as well as B&B options are available.  Hosts can also recommend one of many excellent restaurants in Parys.

En-suite rooms are tastefully furnished and usually fitted with a TV, small bar fridge, kettle and similar devices of comfort to make the visitor feel at home. Each boasts a unique character and atmosphere, reflected in their unusual and exotic names and breathtaking locations to make the choice so much more difficult.

What more rewarding way to end your day with a sundowner on top of a mountain in the Vredefort Dome while you enjoy a breathtaking view. After which you hike downhill to appreciate a wonderful dinner served in style or you may be sociable with friends and family at a braai while enjoying a spectacular night sky and the serenity of the bush.

It is not everyday that you can tell a friend that you stayed in a luxury tent in the heart of a crater, or that mountain rock forms part of your bedroom wall. It is definitely not every day that a fisherman can tell you that he caught the big one from his veranda. Perhaps he can tell about the small antelope grazing within touching distance of his self catering unit.

Whether you are looking for a quiet place in or out of town, something in the mountains, on the river, near the shops, buzzing with people, camping, backpacker or caravan facilities, you are sure to find accommodation to suit your every need.

The Vredefort Dome definitely has a lot in its favour. It is not only one of a kind but is also near to Gauteng with very affordable accommodation. The visitor will most certainly look back at a pleasurable stay and above all “value for money”.

Would you like to take a break, relax or just get away from the hustle and bustle to find that peace of mind?  Choose from romantic escapes, luxury vacations, weekend getaways, pamper breaks, golf breaks, backpacker hotels, game lodges, luxury hotel stays or just a family getaway. Parys Info (056) 811 4000

 

RESTAURANTS

Parys has culinary and gourmet delights and events for all. If you fancy an exciting culinary experience you will find it here.

It is not every day a city dweller enjoys a truly excellent meal in a beautiful garden on the banks of the Vaal River, listening to bird song, surrounded by good clean air, lazy conversations and a glass of wine.

On both island developments you will find restaurants surrounded by the emerald green of a golf course with an unbelievable view on the Vaal River. Here you can spend hours enjoying the relaxing atmosphere and beauty of nature. Various mouth watering dishes, excellent service and pleasant surroundings will make you feel right at home.

For the art lover there is the opportunity to enjoy both a meal surrounded by works of art and a fully automated wine cellar. In Breë Street there are restaurants as well as art galleries, giving your eyes a feast while waiting on a meal that is an art form in itself.

Parents with lively small children will find some restaurants with a supervised playroom where they can enjoy an outstanding meal. One of them boasts a kitchen complete with wood stove and all the appliances which remind you of grandma in her heyday.

You will find live entertainment in a “Moulin Rouge” atmosphere at a restaurant in Breë Street with mouth watering “vetkoek” and curry just down the street. There are also restaurants that specialize in typical South African cuisine like “boerekos”, afval, sausage rolls and “pap and wors”.

A meal could become a very sociable affair at a restaurant on the outskirts of town while looking at flying objects such as new and veteran aircraft, micro airplanes, hot air balloons and parachutes, while private planes do their tricks in front of your eyes.

 

COFFEESHOPS AND HOME INDUSTRIES

A wide variety of take-away meals are available.  Should you desire something light with a cup of coffee or tea there is an opportunity at any of the many coffee shops!  Some you will find in the guise of a bookshop, a bus, grandma’s kitchen and a street café. Others will serve you with a “boere breakfast”, unbelievable cheesecake, home bake and a large range of typical South Africa delicacies

 

SPA 

Are you in need of pampering or a relaxing spa day to add a different dimension to your lifestyle? Various spas in Parys will cater to your every need in tranquil surroundings while listening to the calming rush of the Vaal River.

 
 
CONFERENCES, FUNCTIONS AND WEDDINGS

Looking for places with a difference for that all important conference, function or wedding could prove to be something of a challenge. Unusual and interesting venues could be found in and around Parys.

Here you will find three to four star graded conference facilities for small to large groups in tranquil surroundings away from the hustle and bustle of big cities where you can relax and concentrate on the task at hand.

In choosing a wedding venue you have to look no further. Exquisitely tended gardens, exotic surroundings and quaint chapels promise to make this the day of your dreams.

Not all of the conference and function venues are out of town. Some up market restaurants in Parys will be happy to cater to your needs and put their facilities to your disposal.

 

WITBLITS, OLIVES AND HISTORY

Visit the Anglo Boer War sites, the Parys Museum in town, the largest wild olive forest in South Africa at Venterskroon or a distillery where traditional South African "witblits" (extremely strong spirits) is made.

 

BERRY PICKING

For a day out with a difference, why not go berry picking! Experience picking berries straight from the bush. If you gather enough you can make your own jam when you get home!  There are 65 cultivars of berries including loganberries, cranberries, blueberries and blackberries. After all your hard work you can enjoy homemade scones and tea in the tea garden. Harvest time is from November to March and you can also purchase frozen berries out of season.  Farm tours are also available.

 
ARTS, CRAFT AND GIFTS

Whether you desire a piece of memorabilia from the turn of the previous century, a unique gift or a fabulous piece of art, you can rest assure that you will find it in Breë- and Water Streets.  

The best, in fact, the only way to experience Breë street is to walk from one antique shop to the other.  Here you will find just about everything which grandma used to have in her home.

The gift shops cater for a wide variety indeed. Here you will find anything from a painted tin can, useable as a handy holder for all kinds of paraphernalia, crystals, paper art, jewellery, wire-art to every other kind of gift you may think off.

The art galleries will keep you captivated and unless you know exactly what you want to hang on your walls or place in a favourite spot, the choice between outstanding works by local artists will prove to be a difficult one.

 

ACTIVITIES

It is very unlikely that there is another town in the country, who can boast so many different activities in sport and adventure as in the case of the Freestate town of Parys. 

 
 SPORT

Apart from an eighteen hole golf course on both the island developments on the outskirts of Parys, there is also facilities for tennis and squash.  In town you will find jukskei, bowling and cricket.

 
 

WHITE WATER RAFTING

The Vaal is a playground for white water rafters and kayakers. The river rafting trips are offered on the most popular rafting stretch in South Africa. Rapids are between grade 1 and 3. It includes “Big Daddy” and the world renowned “Gatsien” rapid. Rafting options include nature paddles, an experience fit for anyone.

 
 HIKING TRAILS

Short, as well as day and overnight hiking-trails are available on a variety of terrains varying from educational but easy eco routes to mountain hiking-trails. Interesting sights e.g. undamaged Bushman rock paintings and remains of stone villages of indigenous tribes who lived in the Vredefort Dome region during the Iron Age can be seen on these routes. Well designed and organized hiking trails in the Vredefort Dome-area have become very popular. The trails vary from day-trails, weekend and 3-day trails. Accredited trails ensure that hikers will be able to select the trail of their choice and that they will in fact get what they expect.

 
FAUNA AND FLORA

There are important conservancy areas around Parys and visitors will find a great variety of interesting fauna and

flora. On the hiking trails you will be able to see a large variety of wildlife such as duiker, jackal, porcupine, zebra, blue wildebeest, springbok, rock hyrax, reebuck, blesbok, impala, red hartebeest and many more.

An impressive variety of  trees are found in the area such as the cabbage tree, velvet bush willow, stinkwood, small knob wood, blue guarri, corkbush, jacket plum, buffalo thorn and protea.

 
HORSE TRAILS

The terrain in the Vredefort Dome-area varies from bushveld to unspoilt ravines a wooded hillsides, some of which are wilderness areas and only accessible by foot or horseback. Some of the trails are run throughout the year and last one to two days. It can be extended on request. Daily, moonlight and outrides are also catered for. The trails are guided by experienced trail leaders. Crossbred well trained horses are used.

 
ECO-TOURISM

With sunset game drives in wild life conservancies and surrounding areas you can have a look at more than 315 different types of bird species and game such as giraffe, zebra, oryx, eland, kudu, red hartebeest, water buck, impala, deer, crocodiles, rhino, buffalo, lions and numerous other smaller game species. At the cheetah breeding centre you can experience feeding time and watch how these wonderful cats devour their food. If you are lucky you may play with cubs as well as feed them.

 

FISHING

What is it about fly fishing that drives us to distraction? Few pastimes evolve into obsession and none can derive such satisfaction irrespective of result. There are no limits to the game fish that you can cast a line to or the imitations you may tie, your only restriction is your time. Maybe you would like to learn the basic techniques of fishing. All this can now be found right here at the Vredefort Dome-area, an extremely popular spot for fly-fishing and catching yellow fish. Our fishing experiences are designed for the keen angler / enthusiast or anyone who would like to learn the art of fishing and would like the excitement of catching the biggest fish out there! 

 
HOT AIR BALLOONING

Feel the freedom, admire the view and enjoy the fresh air around you. Hot air ballooning is the ultimate air adventure. Experience the fascination of free flight with a panoramic view over scenic countryside. As you float along, you may catch sight of a variety of wildlife. Enjoy adventure and romance! It is gentle, safe, colourful and fun. Truly an experience of a lifetime!

 
 

STARGAZING

Much as it is everywhere else in the world, once you get out of an urban centre, the splendour of the heavens is that much more apparent. If you have ever seen the stars from the countryside, you can then imagine what they must look like when you go stargazing out in the heart of the remote bush. The Vredefort Dome-area offers a splendid stargazing opportunity to do a bit of celestial wandering. Many of the northern constellations can be seen low on the northern horizon here in South Africa, but it is the southern hemisphere constellations that attract the most interest.

 
 ARCHERY

Archery is a high tech sport with a range of applications from hunting to competitions (including the Olympics) to an entertaining and social day at an archery range learning the skills practiced centuries ago by soldiers and hunters. It is also a fun activity that can be enjoyed by all ages.

 
MOUNTAIN BIKING

You should be prepared for an exhilarating, adrenaline pumping South African mountain biking experience. A great variety of mountain biking trails is found in the Vaal River valley, in the farmlands to the south of Parys and along the heights of the Dome Bergland. There is something to suit every level of fitness and interest, from pure sport to archaeological explorations and historical battlefield routes. 

 
QUAD BIKING

What better way to explore its terrains than to go quad biking? Get ready for adventure, fun and adrenaline pumping rides! Go quad biking through valleys, indigenous forests, streams, waterfalls, over scenic mountains and witness the amazing wildlife. This trail offers varying degrees of difficulty through bushveld, mud, riverbeds, hill climbs and picturesque mountains. The trail caters for the beginner as well as experienced drivers offering laid-back to adrenaline pumping experiences.

 
TEAM BUILDING

Take a slide, a jump, a journey through woodlands, tracks, streams, hills, river banks and plenty more. Are you trying to build team spirit? Do you want to encourage a team to work more effectively together?  Fun filled team building excursions are being offered at various locations in The Vredefort Dome-area which are filled with engaging ways to learn and practise the skill of teamwork. At its core, team building is simply organizing and building a culture and community of kindred spirits; individuals assembled for a common purpose or goal. A selection of events will involve some physical activity and vary from light exercise to an event which will get your pulse racing. Team building includes survivor challenges, an adventure race, quad cheetah challenge, meteorite mind games, Treasure Island, fire walking paintball, sundowners and much more.

 

KIDS CAMPS

Fun-filled daily holiday activities are available. This includes stalk the lantern, mountain biking, hiking trails, river rafting, raft building, wall climbing, low ropes course, war cries, restaurant competitions, obstacle course, game drives, life skills and  bird watching, to name but a few. Highly qualified guides will cater for the child’s every need. 

 
ABSAILING

Abseiling is an exhilarating adventure activity in the Vredefort Dome where the accomplishment of facing and eventually overcoming your fears leads to natural adrenalin rush beyond words. It was only towards the end of the last century that abseiling, also called rappelling, became an activity in its own right

 

BIRDWATCHING

A registered bird sanctuary near Parys and surrounding area, boasts with more than 450 species of birds. Goliath herons, paradise fly catchers, spotted eagle owls, cardinal woodpeckers, black breasted prinias and fish eagles are regularly spotted, while white eyes, sunbirds, black collared barbets, bishop birds and crested barbets frolic in the glades on a daily basis. The Vredefort Dome-area is truly a birdwatcher’s paradise 

 
DOMEFEST

The Parys Dome Adventure Festival, which yearly takes place during the first weekend of November is the only festival of its kind in South Africa. It attracts thousands of visitors with its theme of adventure and outdoor activities. The aim of the festival is to market Parys and The Dome as an adventure tourism destination.

The programme includes two rock shows with some big names in the South African music industry, the S.A. Boerboel Championship, lots of stalls that cater for every appetite, all kinds of competitions, and a Street Parade. The Dome Rally will participate for the first time this year and the festival concludes with the highly popular Dragon Boat race on the Vaal River. The Dragon Boat race is a highly competitive corporate event and no less than thirty teams will participate. Go to www.domefest.co.za

The Dome Adventure Festival will be hosted in Parys and the proceeds raised from this festival will go towards the Parys Development Forum (non profit Section 21 Company) for projects in and around Parys with the intention of marketing and development of the community

 

For more information contact Parys Info at 056 811 4000 or visit the website at www.parys.info

 
 

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