Bloem fans face chilly visit

2010-04-06 14:52

Bloemfontein - Fans headed to Bloemfontein for the World Cup should pack gloves, scarves and warm coats.

Close to the centre of South Africa, Bloemfontein is situated at an altitude of 1 400m and is likely to get the coldest weather of the nine World Cup cities with temperatures likely to drop to minus-2 degrees Celsius at night.

That contrasts sharply with daytime figures which could easily rise to 27 degrees Celsius - a curious mixture for followers of some of the 10 teams headed for the city's Free State Stadium.

Fans can certainly be prepared for clear blue skies and hardly any rain during the June 11-July 11 World Cup, which is being staged in South Africa's winter. But a 300km drive to the Golden Gate National Highlands national park could find snow and temperatures as low as minus-15 degrees Celsius.

For those fans who don't want to stray far from the 46 000-seat Free State Stadium, which is also used by Cheetahs rugby team, there are shopping malls and restaurants nearby.

Bloemfontein, South Africa's judicial capital, is known as Mangaung in Sesotho, meaning "place of cheetahs." But Bloemfontein is also known as the "city of roses" because of the abundance of the flowers and its festivals to celebrate them.

It is a long distance from any of the other World Cup venues, but the local airport has been considerably upgraded for the World Cup and is the main hub for the capital of the landlocked province. Eight kilometers from the city centre, it is reachable easily by road.

Although crime has not been a major factor in Bloemfontein, which has a population of 850 000, it has been climbing recently with local government officials reporting car hijackings, drug trafficking and glue-sniffing thugs accosting business people.

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