Bethlehem is located on the N5 road to the Free State provincial capital Bloemfontein via Senekal and Winburg to the N1. Other regional roads in the Town are R76 road to Kroonstad (North), the R26 road to Reitz and Fouriesburg (North East and South) respectively. The R712 runs through to Clarens just 41 km’s away on route to the Golden Gate Highlands National Park. It falls under the Dihlabeng Municipality.
Bethlehem was founded by three local residents, Kristiaan Klopper, Neil Bishop and Henco Cronjé, who jointly bought the Farm: 'Pretorius Kloof'. The first stands were sold in 1860 and a Justice of Peace was appointed, in 1864
Bethlehem is 250 km North-East of Bloemfontein and 260 km South of Johannesburg, established in 1860 on the farm Pretorius Kloof and proclaimed in 1884. Named after the biblical Bethlehem (Judg. 17:7), the birthplace of Jesus. ‘House of bread’, so called because wheat was found to thrive there! Jordaan River rising in the Rooiberg North-East of Clarens and flowing north through Bethlehem. The reference is; to the River Jordan which flows into the Sea of Galilee. Asrivier River some 8 km South-East of Bethlehem, flows into Loch Lomond. Afrikaans for ‘axle river’, the name was given because the axle of a wagon broke at a ford here during the Great Trek,
causing some delay. Bethlehem was the temporary seat of the Government of the Orange Free State in 1900, during the South African War. The Town has railway Workshops, Cold-Storage Plants, flour mills, a dairying and malting industry, furniture-manufacturing plants, and textile mills. It is a centre for the distribution of agricultural produce and has major Rail, Air, and Road Links. The Pretorius Valley Bird Sanctuary has been created where the Jordaan River passes through Pretorius Valley, and Lake Athlone is a recreation area. Population according to the Census of (2001) is 11,819.
The casino is located in the historical town of Bethlehem and is the gateway to some of South Africa’s most beautiful scenery and important landmarks, including the Golden Gate Highlands National Park and the Basotho Cultural Village. Nearby outdoor entertainment options include river rafting, wildlife gazing, hiking, fishing, biking and quad biking.
Located in Bethlehem is also the 'Frontier Inn and Casino'. This is a charming, Boutique Casino Resort perfectly situated en-route to Clarens. Comfortable accommodation, lively entertainment, and service with a smile, characterize this frontier – themed establishment with its magnificent finishes. As the only legal casino in Bethlehem we offer gaming entertainment to excite with regular promotions and weekly game shows. Live the spirit of Adventure!
The Bethlehem Museum is one of Cultural History and is housed in the old Nazareth Mission Church on Muller Street. The church was originally built in 1906 so is architecturally and aesthetically pleasing. The museum is only open at selected times.
You will find a number of historical items at the Museum one of which is an old steam Train which is housed on the grounds, I’m sure your children will be fascinated learning more about this method of travel that perhaps their great grandparents traveled by. The Museum has a strong focus of the Town’s History and Culture so you will notice a fair number of farming implements and period furniture that depict the lifestyle of former residents of the Town. If you’re interested in war, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a very good collection of war memorabilia at the Bethlehem Museum. Groenkop Battle –site A Memorial Monument has been erected on the top of Groenkop Situated between Bethlehem and Kestell (40 km from Bethlehem), remembering those who died during the Battle on 25 December 1901. Major Williams with 550 men, most of them from the 11th Battalion, Imperial Yeomanry, a 15-pounder gun and a pom-pom were positioned at the top of the 61 m high Groenkop.
Lionsrock – Big Cat Sanctuary.
A lifelong home for big cats. As part of four paws’ work for wild animals in captivity, we focus on the situation of big cats in zoos, in private captivity and in the entertainment industry. The Area was was taken over by 'Four Paws', in 2006. During the early days at the newly acquired Big Cat Sanctuary, huge demands were placed on the local team. Massive structural changes had to be made to the area to bring up to four paws´ rigorous quality standards.
Tepelkop Hiking Trail, is moderately difficult and is suitable for children aged twelve and older. This 10 Kilometer Hike just outside of the Town, begins at a converted sandstone Barn which is used as a Base Camp, for Hikers. Warm up with a good walk on the first stretch before you begin your short but steep climb to the saddle between the Witteberg and Tepelkop Mountains. Along the way you will spot an outstanding array of Flora and Fauna.
Sporekrans Hiking Trail A two day Sporekrans Trail in the Bergdeel Private Game Reserve. The Reserve has: a camp with beds, an ablution block and braai spots so you can stay over comfortably, the night before the trail starts. Then there is also the Holhoek Hiking Trail which is over the terrain of sandstone koppies, so prevalent in this area, of the Witteberg. (Which was said to be all that remains of what was once a desert.)
The beauty of the Area is paramount – naked rocks of various interesting formations, trees of all shapes and sizes, Mountain Streams, Kloofs, a series of Caves (some endowed with San rock paintings), Valleys, various Ladders and Bridges up and along the Mountain face and a pleasingly designed Route combine to make a particularly enjoyable Hike!