About The Kouga Dam

Built in the 1960s, the Kouga Dam was the first double-arched dam in South Africa. It's worth a stop for the beauty of its setting in amongst the mountain folds of the Gamtoos Valley, known for its fertile soils and fresh water.

Did you know? The dam lies west of the little town of Patensie - the northern access to the ultimate 4x4 experience, the Baviaanskloof. You can reach it on the R330 and then the R331 from the N2 at Humansdorp.

The major river that runs through the valley is the Kouga River, its source at Avoontuur where after it runs the length of the Langkloof before joining its tributary, the Baviaankloof, and flowing into a narrow gorge known as the Kougapoort, where it then joins the Groot River and becomes the Gamtoos River.

All rather confusing.

By whatever name the water through the Gamtoos Valley is known, it became a good farming area because of it. By a series of intricate distribution canals, farmers accessed irrigation. But it was a wasteful system, and every now and again the river would flood, destroying any pipes or irrigation systems. The government decided to build a dam.

It wasn't without its challenges.

The project team built a mathematical mesh model to help determine the dam's optimal shape and to make sure that the shell of the dam bent as little as possible. There were geological challenges that resulted in three tunnels built on the right flank of the dam for optimal drainage and to relieve pressure, and a thick reinforced concrete slab was built against the downstream right abutment.

Whilst they were building, huge volumes of water was diverted from the area to a temporary dam, but even so, from the initial excavation for the main wall, which began in August 1958, it took 11 years to complete. Today it supplies water to Kouga and Gamtoos valleys, as well as drinking water to Jeffreys Bay, St Francis Bay and Humansdorp.

Need to Know

WhereThe Kouga Dam, Patensie, Baviaanskloof Region, Eastern Cape, South Africa

WhenDaylight hours.

OvernightStay in Patensie Accommodation, Eastern Cape


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