Northern Cape Tourist AttractionsVaal-Harts Dam
The rather stodgy name of Vaal-Harts Storage Weir may explain why the Vaal-harts Dam is not high on the agenda for visitors.
It is true that its sole purpose is to divert water from the Vaal River, after which it is named, to the Vaal-Harts government water scheme. The water scheme, though, is rather fascinating. It is the largest irrigation scheme in the country and waters the Vaalharts Valley, an oasis on the eastern edge of the otherwise arid Northern Cape where it borders with the North West province.
The valley has been termed the Garden in the Desert by some, an apt description given the feast of olive groves, stone fruit orchards, nut and citrus trees, grapes, cotton, wheat, maize, oats and potato crops that flourish thanks to the myriad concrete canals feeding the farms that have been in the valley since the depression of the early 1930s.
Just over 1 200 plots or farms, of varying size that range between 25 and 75 hectares, cover an area of some 35 000 hectares, most of it on the Northern Cape side of the scheme. This scheme is the oldest of its kind in the country, and provides work for many.
Whilst most of the farmers have changed their irrigation systems to centre irrigation pivots and drips, there are still some farmers who use the old flood irrigation method of farming.
Vaal-Harts Dam lies just east of the town of Warrenton. The surface of the water is almost always as still as a mirror, the stillness making it a popular fishing and boating spot for people who come to braai and picnic along its banks. Fishermen advocate that red floats with plain dough hook baits work best if you want to catch carp