Floriskraal Dam, Western Cape
Floriskraal Dam is a dam about which few people know that lies on the Buffels River south east of Laingsburg in the Karoo that was built in 1957. It lies surrounded by gentle hills and mountains and scrubby fynbos. In the 1981 Laingsburg floods it was the collapse of the Floriskraal Dam wall after the heavy rains that wreaked most of the havock and damage.
The Buffels River feeds into the Groot Rivier (big river) that runs through the Klein Karoo, one of the life bloods of the area, important for agriculture and life. The Buffels river cuts through the Klein Swartberg Mountains between Laingsburg and Ladismith through an incredibly scenic gorge, which is also a National Heritage Site, known as Buffelspoort.
It is at the bottom of the Floriskraal Dam that the river actually becomes known as the Groot Rivier. On the day of the 1981 floods, accounts say that the three rivers that meet a few kilometres north of Laingsberg the Buffels River, the Wilgehout River and the Baviaans River - were all swollen with a significant amount of rain, which is highly unusual for the area. Where they meet, the amount of water was too much for the river system to handle, hence the sweep of water into the town that included damage to the railway bridge that brings the train into Ladismith.
Considering the drought-stricken landscape that is most common to Laingsberg, the floods are hard to imagine.
There are a number of 4X4 routes through Buffelspoort that are fantastic to do through this unspoilt terrain.