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Why mountain biking?

Posted on Thu April 7, 2022.

Mountain biking is a sport of riding bicycles off-road, often over rough terrain, usually using specially designed mountain bikes. Mountain bikes share similarities with other bikes but incorporate features designed to enhance durability and performance in rough terrain, such as air or coil-sprung shocks used as suspension, larger and wider wheels and tires, stronger frame materials, and mechanically or hydraulically actuated disc brakes. Mountain biking can generally be broken down into five distinct categories: cross country, trail riding, all mountain, downhill, and freeride. At Imla Guest Farm we focus on - Cross country, Trail Riding & Free ride. It is a great family sport and it takes you to places you wouldn't have gone to if you did not get on the bike.

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Why Hike?

Posted on Fri July 30, 2021.

Well… I can think of 10 reasons hiking is good for your soul and why you should start hiking today!

There's a truckload of research out there telling us that hiking is good for us. As a form of exercise, there's nothing like a brisk climb to get your heart rate up. Check out this great infographic.

Physically, the benefits are numerous. Getting outside for even a short hike regularly can reduce your risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and cholesterol and help to prevent type II diabetes.

Hiking makes you strong. And it doesn't just work your legs.

Clambering over uneven surfaces and navigating your way around rocks, fallen trees, across streams and over tree roots engages your core and works your upper body for a true holistic work out.

But the physical benefits are almost incidental to how hiking can contribute to your overall mental health and wellbeing.

This isn't a 'get fit and lose weight in 30 days' post. It's 2018 people and it's about time we focused on more than aesthetics. Health is more than cardio and strength conditioning, and our New Years resolution reflects that (hike more, worry less!). Here are ten reasons hiking is good for your soul and why your should start hiking.

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Adventure Tourism

Posted on Fri July 2, 2021.

As travellers seek new and different experiences, adventure tourism continues to grow in popularity. Adventure tourism, according to the Adventure Travel Trade Association, is a tourist activity that includes physical activity, a cultural exchange, or activities in nature. You don't necessarily have to go base jumping or go scuba diving with sharks to be an adventure tourist (although those activities definitely qualify).

Adventure tourism is about connecting with a new culture or a new landscape and being physically active at the same time. It is not about being risky or pushing your boundaries. In fact, it is especially important to know and respect your limits while you are in an unfamiliar area. Our list of adventure tourism activities has plenty of options if you aren't necessarily a thrill seeker. If you are an adrenaline junkie, don't worry we still have a few ideas for your next trip.

Soft Adventure Tourism is all about the sharing of information and tips with travellers planning vacations or trips to non-traditional destinations for new experiences, activities, cultures, and natural wonders, with some mild physical activity.

It's one of the fastest growing segments of the travel industry and is enjoyed by anyone who is looking for more than just your typical vacation to a beach, a cruise, or a sightseeing trip to a big city. Although many of the soft adventure short tours are often taken to supplement the traditional vacation. This includes many trips to destinations that offer eco-tourism or special interest expeditions or themes

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Agri-Tourism - Eastern Freestate (South Africa)

Posted on Wed April 8, 2020.


Agri-tourism is a growing international sustainable tourism experience. It is any tourist activity happening on a farm and linked to the farm’s activities and attractions. This can include agricultural activities such as milking cows at the dairy, shearing wool, harvesting crops, culling herds, using agricultural implements, tasting and buying farm produce. Using the farm’s resources for game viewing, birding, biking, hiking, fishing are all part of Agri-tourism. Boarding and lodging on the farm is a bonus but not a necessity.

An Agri-tourism farm must be a working farm. It offers farmers the opportunity to earn additional revenue with existing resources.


Agri-tourism Africa provides local and international tourists with an information portal to farms in South Africa and Africa that offer some or other form of tourist activity or attraction. We are unique in that we are the only Agri-tourism Association in Africa.

To find out more about our farms – visit Explore Agri-tourism

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The Gumtree Mill And Station

Posted on Sat May 11, 2019.

Every year, 1000's of tourists flock to the Eastern Free State to appreciate and admire the beautiful mountains with its shades of autumn coloured sandstone cliffs. Clarens is home to the well known Titanic Sandstone cliff resembling the bow of the iconic Titanic steamship. Sandstone was and is still a very popular building material in the Eastern Free State and in almost every small town you will find examples of the sandstone architecture. These sandstone houses and magnificent churches all have a rich history. An interesting fact is that the Union Buildings in Pretoria were built from sandstone blocks originating from the Ficksburg area.

The Gumtree Mill and station is situated halfway between Ficskburg and Cloclan and about 6km from Imla's main homestead. Few people know that this majestic building is the highest sandstone building in the Southern Hemisphere and one of the tallest sandstone buildings in the world.

Guests are welcome to visit this spectacular one of a kind attraction when visiting Imla. One of the local farmer's wives did research on this famous landmark and wrote the following article:

THE GUMTREE MILL AND STATION compiled by June Berend

How many people, I wonder, know that in the Ficksburg district is the highest sandstone building in the country? This 5-storeyed building is in the little community of Gumtree and was once a very productive grain mill of the S.A. Milling Company. How did it all start?

In 1875, a young Englishman arrived off a ship in Port Elizabeth. He was Charles Stevens and he was hoping to make his fortune in the then, Basutoland (Lesotho). He had 50 pounds in his pocket. Twenty-five years later he did indeed have several trading stores in Lesotho but had also acquired eight farms across the border in the Orange Free State. These farms started with Schuttesdraai on the Caledon River at the Peka border post and ended at the farm Braamhoek; a distance of about 13.5 km

In 1907, the railway-line from Bloemfontein reached Ficksburg and the Railways bought a piece of land from Charles Stevens for a station. It is rumored that the Railways offered to name this station, Stevenage, but that Charles refused the honour, and it became Gumtree, one assumes for the Eucalyptus trees already growing around the proposed station. On a piece of land adjoining the station, Charles built a very large, 5-storeyed, sandstone grain mill which traded as the Schuttesdraai Milling Co. The mill was very well situated alongside the railway lines with its own loading platforms useful not only for the transport of products from the mill but also for the off-loading of coal for the steam-powered machinery. The Eastern Free State was becoming a big grain-producing area and milling at this time was necessary and profitable.

With the development of the station and the mill, the people working there needed a school. In January 1908 a government school at the farm, de Hoop, moved to Gumtree where it opened with 31 pupils. By March, however, there were 77 children. Housing for mill staff was built and the charming sandstone house for the mill-manager is still in use today. A small shop also supplied the needs of the growing community.

In 1916, Schuttesdraai milling Co. amalgamated with the Bloemfontein Mill of the S.A Milling Co. to form the Orange Free State Milling Co. When Charles Stevens died in June 1919, the S.A. Milling Co. bought out his share in this company and remained the owners over the next 40 years. The mill which ran night and day, was literally, the heartbeat of Gumtree. A sandstone post office with an attached house for the postmaster was built; a second shop started a business, a blacksmith set up his forge; a transport company established a forwarding agency for the transporting of goods from the trains to trading stores in Lesotho. The mill built two tennis-courts for social tennis on Saturday afternoons. The earlier school was replaced with a new sandstone building of 2 classrooms and house, also in sandstone for the school principal.

The station also had its share of the "action". it was here that the two passenger trains which traveled between Cape Town and Durban, crossed each day at 2 pm. This created quite a social bustle as people waited for the post, with the precious daily newspapers from Bloemfontein, to be sorted, they caught up with local chat. My father firmly maintained that he saw two waiting farmers, nip into the dining-car of the waiting train for a quick "dop". Their wives did not approve of alcohol - or so my father said! There were always some passengers getting on or off; particularly at school holidays when children came from or went off to their various boarding schools. With what nostalgia do I now recall my '; hellos' and 'good-byes' at the small Gumtree Station as I traveled during the 1950's, to high school in Bloemfontein and then to university in Pietermaritzburg. Then, in the 1960's I frequently traveled by train to Johannesburg where I was teaching. On a more momentous occasion, I even waved my family and friends good-buy at Gumtree, on my way to Durban to board a Lloyd Triestino liner for Europe!

And so for 50 years, this little community led it's little, contented life, until 1st December 1958 when the machinery at the mill was switched off. According to Mrs. De Villiers, wife of the last mill manager, it was a tearful staff who bid farewell to a "Grand Old Lady" on that day. S.A. Milling had built a large, modern mill at Isando, near Kempton Park. The mill property was sold to 3 local businessmen, Messrs. George Casalis, Lesley Hyland and Douglas Dare (of Kolonyama, Lesotho) Machinery from the mill was sold, ending up in a mill in Salisbury (Harare) and the property was bought by the Ficksburg Farmers Co-operative who ran it as a country branch. It is now the private property of Mr. T.D. Smith of Clocolan who does not mind passers-by popping in to look at the mill.. Very sadly, but inevitably, the building has become derelict and home only to a colony of rock pigeons and to barn owls. It is, however, worth the while to turn off the R26 between Ficksburg and Clocolan on to the S306 gravel road for only 4 km. Here you will find Gumtree and the mill where in spite of its sorrowful state it still dominates the skyline. Go inside, and perhaps you will hear the throb of machinery once more and in your imagination be transported back for almost 100 years.


'S.African Who's Who - social and Business"

"Seanamarena" by A.E. Stevens.

Nouveau Magazine. Spring 2005




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