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Parys and the Vredefort Dome

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The small town of PARYS, just off the N1 highway 300km northeast of Bloemfontein and 100km from Johannesburg, makes a good stopover on the long trek across the country, or an interesting day-trip from Jo’burg. The town, with its galleries, antique shops, adventure sports and the meandering Vaal River, is pleasant enough, but its main claim to fame is harder to spot, as it’s situated near Vredefort, the epicentre of a massive meteorite impact some two billion years ago. What remains of the huge 300km-wide crater is now South Africa’s most abstract World Heritage Site, as it can only properly be seen from space, but by joining a tour it is possible to get a good idea of what happened and to view what’s left of the impact dome, the mass of molten rock that was thrust upwards after the meteorite struck.

Early November is a good time to visit Parys, when outdoor enthusiasts descend on the town for dragon-boat racing, competitions and live music during the annual Dome Adventure Festival (domefest.co.za).

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