Gariep – Largest Dam in South Africa
The picturesque Gariep Dam is located in the Free State, between the cities of Colesberg and Bloemfontein. Travelers often use the Gariep Dam as a stop over on their way to and from Cape Town and Johannesburg, but many return for a longer stay after they have discovered the beauty and attractions that it offers. The peaceful waters of the dam are a great attraction for family holidays, making Gariep Dam a very popular leisure destination. There are a variety of resorts, caravan parks and other accommodation on offer to suit all tastes and budgets.
Construction workers began building the largest dam in South Africa with a radius of three hundred and sixty kilometers in the 1960’s, and what began as a home for the workers, evolved into the quiet town of Gariep Dam. The dam itself is a breathtaking attraction in its own right, and the residents soon noticed an increase of visitors trying to escape city life and enjoy the riches of nature, leading to many comfortable accommodations opening their doors.
The locals of Gariep Dam definitely put the dam to good use, spending family days next to the water and indulging in various water sports, including rubberduck racing. They are also very active in the aviation industry, with the small airfield and the Gariep Aviation Club being host to international gliding championships. But it is the natural attractions that lure the majority of tourists to this tranquil part of the Free State, with the magnificent Ruigte Valley being the backdrop to a breathtaking nature reserve. The Gariep Nature Reserve is home to Red Hartebeest, Duiker, Wildebeest, Cape Mountain Zebra and a variety of bird species that live on the more than thirteen thousand hectare area. The Norvalspont Concentration Camp, the first hydro-electric power station and the fish hatchery are also recommended attractions in Gariep. And when the natural surroundings become too peaceful and quiet, the Gariep Dam Wall becomes the venue for festivals, dances and entertainment.
Gariep Dam is the youngest town in the Free State, and certainly one of the most picturesque. It is the perfect getaway for families and for those wanting to free themselves from the routine of their daily lives – even if only for a short time.