Naval Hill – Franklin Game Reserve and Park Run

Naval Hill - Nelson Mandela Statue

Naval Hill – Franklin Game Reserve and Park Run

Naval Hill is an odd name for a hill in the center of South Africa without a dockyard or sea in sight. It got it’s name from the two Naval Guns that were on the hill by the British during the Anglo-Boer war.

Contrary to popular belief, the two naval guns are no longer on Naval Hill. The Naval Brigade took the canons with them after the Anglo-Boer war ended. The only visible evidence of Naval Hill’s war history is a White Horse on the eastern hillside. The White Horse was an important landmark for soldiers during the war.

Activities on Naval Hill

Game drive or walk in the Franklin Game Reserve

Naval Hill forms part of the Franklin game reserve. Giraffe, buck, ostrich and many more forms of wildlife live in the game reserve. There are no large predators and not hunting allowed. This makes the Franklin game reserve safe for walkers and joggers (be aware of cars though!)

Thanks to the lack of predators, the wildlife has become quite tame. This is great for photo opportunities, but keep your distance to 5 meters as they are still wild animals.

There is a strict policy of “do not feed the animals”, so please take all food and trash home with you when you leave.

The animals prefer the early morning light, so get there at sunrise to see the most wildlife.

Nelson Mandela Statue and lookout point

The Nelson Mandela statue looks out over the city of Bloemfontein. This statue is the largest bronze statue of the South African hero in the world. The area surrounding the statue is a lookout point where a person can take in the beauty of the city.

! Note:
The Naval Hill Park Run is currently not active at present. Consult Parkrun events for more info

Jogging Route and Park Run

The walking and jogging route was also improved when the statue was erected. This paved the way for Bloemfontein’s first Park Run.

The Naval Hill Park Run is a 5km and takes place every Saturday. The time is dependent on the season. During the summer months (October to March) the park run begins at 7 am. In the winter months (April to September) the park run begins at 8 am.

If you plan to take part in the park run, and you have never participated in a park run before, please register on the Park Run website.


If you are looking for a place to volunteer, the Park Run needs volunteers to help before, during and after each race. You can contact them at:

Or take a trash bag with you while walking/jogging on Naval Hill and pick up litter while you enjoy nature. When each person helps clean up the environment in a small way we prevent the animals from eating things they shouldn’t.

Lamont-Hussey Observatory and Planetarium

Lamont-Hussey Observatory was built on Naval Hill in 1928, before light pollution became a problem. The observatory closed in 1972 and the Boyden Observatory outside city limits was built. Now the Lamont-Hussey Observatory is now known as the Naval Hill Planetarium. It opened as a Planetarium on 1 November 2013.

Bloemfontein was the first city in Sub-Saharan Africa to have a digital planetarium. 3D images display the universe on a huge screen inside the dome via a state-of the-art projector system. Tickets can be booked through computicket.


Naval Hill
Get Directions | View on Google maps

Entrance in Union Avenue

The entrance to naval hill is found in Union Avenue.


Visit at sunrise to see wildlife

The wildlife is most active in the early morning.