Gariep Dam Nature Reserve, Free State
The Free State's largest nature reserve is a combination of the 36 487 ha Gariep Dam on the Orange River and an 11 237 ha game sanctuary on its northern shore.
From the Gariep dam some 200 000 ha of land is irrigated, by means of a tunnel of 83,8 km, delivering water to the upper valleys of the Fish River, and then from another 13,2 km tunnel to the Sundays River.
The Gariep dam covers some 374 square kilometers. With the supply of some 455 million litres of water to the dry Karoo region around it, the hydro electric scheme generates 600 000 kilowatts of power, as well. Situated between Bloemfontein and Colesberg in the Free State, the Gariep Dam is an ideal place to stop over on your way between Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Adjoining the Gariep Dam Nature Reserve and close to the Gariep Dam Wall, is the privately owned Aventura Midwaters Resort, with an extensive range of sporting and entertainment facilities that are available to the whole family, like swimming, tennis, golf, trampolines, bowls, mini golf and water sports. Water sports and attractions include sailing, power boating, canoeing, skiing, angling and sporting. A tour through the dam wall could also be done, down to the bedrock - an amazing feat of engineering that beholds your eyes.
For a first hand account of the Gariep Dam, read our editors review at A dam fine weekend - exploring the shores of the Gariep Dam.
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The Gariep Dam was officially opened in 1972 and is very popular with both anglers and boating enthusiasts. The Gariep Dam nature reserve accommodates the largest population of springbok in any reserve in the country and also features Cape mountain zebra, klipspringer, black wildebeest, red hartebeest and ostrich.