History of Parys and the Surroundings


Parys in the Northern Freestate is less than an hour's drive (120km) from Johannesburg.

Some historical buildings include the Anglican Church, built in 1915, of blue granite blocks. The beautiful Dutch Reformed Church dating back to 1899, and the Parys Museum, housed in the old magistrate's office opposite the Town Hall. 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.
The main agricultural industry around Parys is cattle, peanuts, sorghum, sunflowers and maize. On the berry farm 20 km from Parys you will find South Africa's only black raspberries (swart frambose), amongst the 80 different berry cultivars. Here you can enjoy the unique experience of picking berries straight off the bush during the harvest season between March and November. Frozen berries are available in and out of season. 
Seventeen kilometers from Parys near Venterskroon you will find the largest wild olive forest in South Africa.
Staycold, one of the main industries in Parys, is a world class facility. Staycold manufactures for both the local and international markets. It is currently exporting to countries such as the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Ireland, Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia and almost the whole of the African continent. In October 1999 Staycold received the Premiers Award For Export Excellence by Mr. Alec Erwin (Minister of trade and industry)and was allocated the Standard Bank Trophy as overall Exporter of the Year.
There are three beer breweries in die Parys area where honey beer, various ales, stout, buchu beer, weiss beer, pilsner and porter beer are being brewed. a must see is The Dog & Fig Brewery!
There is also an exclusive and small distillery for brandy and liquors. You better stay over if you would like to visit the distillery for the traditional South African "mampoer" where you can taste 52 different kinds.
The town acquired a reputation as an arts and antique hub. Many well-known artists, antique dealers and craftsmen have made Parys their home.
There is only one way to experience the famous Breë- and Water Street and that is to walk. Here you will find a large and diverse variety of art galleries, antique and gift shops as well as fabulous pieces of art, crafts, gifts or memorabilia from the turn of the previous century.
There are 18 restaurants which cater for an exciting and diverse culinary experience. You will even find such delights as typical South African "vetkoek" "boerekos", afval, sausage rolls and "pap and wors".
There are 10 coffee shops where you will find some of them in the guise of a bookshop, a bus, grandma's kitchen and street cafés.
Various spas in Parys will cater to your every need in tranquil surroundings while listening to the calming rush of the Vaal River.
Only in Parys you will find the largest indoor arena in the Southern Hemisphere for the S.A. Boerboel Championship, Horse shows and cattle shows to name a few. The largest thatched structure in the Southern Hemisphere could be found at one of the most popular resorts on the river.
At more than 108 guest houses, lodges and resorts you will find tranquillity, peace of mind and relaxation. Choose from romantic escapes, luxury vacations, weekend getaways, pamper breaks, golf breaks, backpacker hotels, game lodges or a place for just a family getaway.
The first and only pre-teen and teen holiday resort in the Free State were the children can enjoy activities such as 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.
There are 45 conference, functions and wedding facilities in and around Parys.
The Parys Dome Adventure Festival is unique in being the only festival held in a world heritage site called the Vredefort Dome. It is fast becoming one of the top outdoor festivals in South Africa with the Dragon Boats race as one of the top highlights in a festival full of adventure and entertainment. It take placethe first weekend in November of each year.
Team building the Vredefort Dome-area which is filled with engaging ways to learn and practise the skill of teamwork.
The unique topography and geology of the area and the presence of the Vaal River resulted in a diversity of flora, which attracted vast amounts of fauna to the area. This, together with the shelter available, resulted in a diverse cultural heritage and which make it cultural and historical treasure cove.
The Vredefort structure is currently described as the World's oldest and largest impact structure declared South Africa's seventh World Heritage site in July 2005. The structure was formed 2020 million years ago when an asteroid of 10 kilometers in diameter collided with the earth at a speed of 30 000km/h. The Vredefort Dome is South Africa's 7th World Heritage Site and the only one in the world where 99% of the land is private property. The Vaal River is the oldest river in the world though not nearly as old as the crater. It was born when Karoo sediments covered the crater. Only at Parys you will find rapids in the river. Leeukop Quarry is the largest of seven such quarries in the area and the only place on earth where you will find pink granite. The granite is directly caused by the meteorite. A visit to one of two gold mines will prove to be very interesting indeed. You walk trough a tunnel of 1.5 kilometers. The tunnel was dug by hand and the mine is probably the only gold mine on top of a mountain. 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. The Vaal River 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 guarantee 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.
Bird watching the Vredefort Dome-area is truly a birdwatcher's paradise. A beautiful illustrated book "The Vredefort Koepel Birds" took 7 years of intense study of 256 birds species to complete by a local landowner.
With sunset game drives in wild life conservancies and surrounding areas you will have the opportunity to see this wide variety of birds.
For the horseback rider the terrain in the Vredefort Dome-area varies from bushveld to unspoilt ravines and wooded hillsides, some of which are wilderness areas and only accessible by foot or horseback.
At the cheetah breeding center 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.
Extremely popular spot for fly-fishing and catching yellow fish. The ideal destination 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!
Experience the fascination of free flight in a hot air balloon and enjoy a panoramic view over a scenic countryside inside a crater.
Stargazing the splendor of the heavens is that much more apparent. The Vredefort Dome-area offers a splendid stargazing opportunity to do a bit of celestial wandering.
Archery one of the many activities catered for at various venues in the Vredefort Dome which is an enjoyable and entertaining sport.
A great variety of mountain biking trails are found in the Vaal River valley, in the farmlands to the south of Parys and along the heights of the Dome Bergland.
Go quad biking through valleys, indigenous forests, streams, over scenic mountains and witness the amazing wildlife.
You will find abseiling in the Vredefort Dome an exhilarating adventure activity.

The Vredefort Dome
small map of parys
Map of Parys Town - Click to enlarge

vaal de grace golf estate parys
Vaal de Grace Golf Estate

Parys river rafting
River rafting in Parys

brug in parys
The "Hang Brug" (hanging bridge)

vaal river parys
Parys is Vaal River

vaalriver at parys
Parys is Vaal River

Parys Population

Main Place 477001 from Census 2011
Area: 23.30 km²
Population: 8071 (346.44 per km²)
Households: 3256 (139.76 per km²)
Gender People Percentage
Female 4384 54.32%
Male 3688 45.69%
Population group People Percentage
White 6808 84.35%
Black African 1066 13.21%
Coloured 101 25%
Indian or Asian 38 0.11%
Other 38 0.47%
First language People Percentage
Afrikaans 6318 84.69%
Sesotho 383 5.13%
English 513 6.88%
isiXhosa 509 4.75%
isiZulu 90 0.84%
Other 45 0.42%
Setswana 27 0.25%
Xitsonga 12 0.11%
Sepedi 6 0.06%
isiNdebele 6 0.06%
SiSwati 3 0.03%


Main Place 41809 from Census 2001
Area: 23.21 km²
Population: 33,084 (1,425.56 per km²)
Households: 8,854 (381.51 per km²)
Gender People Percentage
Female 17,630 53.29%
Male 15,454 46.71%
Population group People Percentage
Black African 32,822 99.21%
Coloured 178 0.54%
White 78 0.24%
Indian or Asian 6 0.02%
First language People Percentage
Sesotho 24,096 72.83%
isiXhosa 6,334 19.15%
Setswana 1,021 3.09%
isiZulu 922 2.79%
Afrikaans 285 0.86%
SiSwati 120 0.36%
isiNdebele 117 0.35%
Sepedi 87 0.26%
Tshivenda 45 0.14%
Xitsonga 27 0.08%
English 24 0.07%
Other 6 0.02%