Free State DestinationsGariep Dam, Xhariep Region
Apart from serving an important function - supplying water to parts of the Vaal, Fish and Sundays catchments and irrigation along the Orange River itself - the Gariep Dam also lies in one of the most beautiful gorges at the entrance to the Ruigte Valley. The Gariep Dam is a concrete gravity-arch hybrid design, chosen because the gorge was too wide for a complete arch, hence the use of flanking walls that stand 88 metres high with a crest length of 914 metres.
These measures may be of interest but they conceal the beauty of this incredible man-made lake that is more than 100 kilometres long and 24 kilometres wide and provides a body of water over which to glide - international gliding championships take place here every year - and for water sports.
The Town by the name Gariep Dam was built here during the 1960s, one of the youngest villages in the country built to house the dam’s labour force and now a holiday resort that serves the dam.
The Gariep Dam nature reserve is a game haven on the northern shore of the dam and the Free State’s largest nature reserve, boasting the largest population of springbok in the country. It is an incredibly popular outdoor destination for boating and water sports enthusiasts alike, and makes a good break on the journey between Cape Town and Johannesburg.