Parys, Vredefort Dome & Around
Close to the ground.

GPS: S 26 54.104 E 027 27.479 pop. 370,000 | elevation 1,398 m/4,587 ft

This lovely town’s location along the Vaal River inspired its founders to name it Parys, after the French city on the Seine. While Parys never quite reached the fame or reputation of its sister city, there is much to appreciate about this refuge from the miles of farmland and bush of the northern Free State. Downtown Parys is a burgeoning destination for craft and antique hunters, and the surrounding area is rife with natural wonders. Most remarkable of this is the nearby Vredefort Dome, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the largest meteorite point of impact in the world.

Dome Adventure Festival

Dome Adventure Festival celebrates outdoor activities of all kinds. Athletes and sports enthusiasts gather here each year to play golf, kayak, river raft, quad bike, fly fish and dragon boat race. The town fills with stalls full of gifts, food and drinks, and there is even a Mr. & Miss Dome crowned each year.

The Dell Cheetah Centre

The Dell Cheetah Centre is a cheetah breeding and reintroduction project dedicated to stabilizing cheetah populations in South Africa and educating the public about these magnificent cats. Visitors can come any day of the week to learn about cheetahs and pet the center's tame cats (R100). On Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, you can also watch the cats run (R400 for cheetah run & petting). If you can't get enough of these big felines, visit the center's website to learn more about their volunteer program, where guests can live and work among the cheetahs for two weeks or more.

Otter's Haunt

River rafting and canoeing trips can be arranged through Otter's Haunt.

Imbali Routes & Tours

Game drives in open vehicles to see lions, crocodiles and more than a dozen species of antelope are available in both the morning and evening in the area. Arrange drives through Imbali Routes & Tours.

Jabulani Game Lodge

Game drives in open vehicles to see lions, crocodiles and more than a dozen species of antelope are available in both the morning and evening in the area. Arrange drives through Jabulani Game Lodge.

Dome Bookings & Real Adventures

Dome Bookings & Real Adventures can arrange accommodation and activities for Parys and the surrounds.

The main shopping area in Parys is on Bree and Water Streets, where you'll find antique stores and one-off craft boutiques. The corner of Bree and Middel Streets has several antique and vintage shops.


Dorps House

Dorps House is a self-catering house in the middle of the city that doesn't look like much from the outside. Once inside, however, you'll be surprised by the spacious rooms and classical furnishings that are a steal for the price. The house has two beds, two bathrooms, a living room with television, a full kitchen and a quiet backyard, all homey and clean.

Otter's Haunt

Otter's Haunt is a rustic and cozy homestead 2 kilometers outside of town that has all the delights of summer camp but with the perks of more grownup accommodation. A-frame thatched cabins are secluded and have their own private fire pit, self-catering open-air kitchen and bathroom huts nearby.

The two-bedroom self-catering Guineafowl Cottage (s R320-R45, d R490) is cozy and quaint, and has its own bathroom and television. The River House (R1,280-3,200), which has its own pool and can accommodate up to 10 people, overlooks a small footbridge to an island in the middle of the Vaal River.

Otter's Haunt also arranges rafting and canoeing trips.


The Dell

The Dell has self-catering chalets decked out in African style set along the river a few kilometers outside of town. Chalets have lovely water views but the real show is on the complex's wide lawn, where grazing ostriches, goats and sheep wander. The Dell also has a Cheetah Centre, where cheetah cubs are bred to be reintroduced to the wild.

Hotel Le Petit Chateau

Hotel Le Petit Chateau is a new addition to the Parys hotel scene and one of your best options if you're looking for convenience and class. Just a block away from the Parys main strip, Le Petit Chateau keeps up a sophisticated air with dark wood furniture, downy linens and marble floors and accents. While anyone is welcome, the hotel was built to cater to the town's burgeoning executive retreat and teambuilding industry, so while the facilities here are quite nice, the atmosphere borders on sterile professionalism.

At the time of review, there were no backpackers in Parys and budget accommodation was hard to come by. However, there are some guesthouses and B&Bs in Parys and the surrounds that are willing to consider dropping their rates on an individual basis when business is slow.



Bushcamp is a campground operated by the Dell Cheetah Centre that is beautifully situated along the river a few kilometers outside of town. While somewhat isolated, the site has luxury tents with beds, linens, and battery operated lights, fully stocked outdoor kitchens, running water, showers, a fire pit and flushing toilets soon to be installed. Firewood is provided; guests need only to bring their own food and pillows. Swimming is possible along the river, but watch out for the large catfish.

O's Restaurant

O's Restaurant is an enchanted hideaway in a house along the river. Pass through O's gates and you'll find a wild garden with tables secluded among the trees and overlooking the river. Inside, a roaring fire and cozily separated dining rooms keep things intimate. Contemporary classics served here are hearty and inviting - dishes made from locally raised beef are particularly succulent.


Feast is a sleek and summery cafe that feels just a little too cool for Parys. Artfully prepared entrees and light meals are served in a set of monochromatic rooms and on the garden patio. Feast impresses with presentation and even simple cappuccinos taste just a bit better here.

Bus Stop

Bus Stop does wonders with winter vegetables and soups. Savory pancakes and home baked pies with gravy are an absolute delight. And the dining room, a collection of old school buses, adds whimsy to the mouthwatering fare.

Plum Tree

Plum Tree is an artsy coffee shop that serves satisfying fare. When seated, you get an old Afrikaans magazine from early South Africa to peruse. This also happens to be one of the few independent restaurants in town that is open on a Monday.

The cafés along Bree Street often stay open for a pint or two, especially on Friday and Saturday nights. Note that because of a city ordinance, pubs and bars must close on Sunday night.

Pickled Pig Pub & Pie House

Pickled Pig Pub & Pie House is a charming British-style pub in the heart of town.