Gariep Dam, Xhariep, The Free State
Formerly known as the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam, the Gariep Dam on the Orange River on the Free State/Eastern Cape border is not only the largest man-made reservoir in South Africa, but the largest body of water in the country. With a surface area of 360 square kms and ideal inland conditions, the Gariep Dam supports a thriving watersports industry and yachting community.
Gariep Dam (also called Lake Gariep Dam) is the venue for a number of national and International sports events. Each February the dam becomes the venue for the longest rubber duck racing event in the world – the Gariep 500 Rubber Duck Race, and the Gariep Dam Yacht Club in Gariep Dam Town holds monthly sailing regattas. See the Yacht Club website for more information on sailing and yacht charters on the Gariep Dam.
Excellent gliding conditions (many say the best in the world) also make the Gariep Dam an internationally acclaimed destination for gliders, and the venue for an annual International Gliding event. For more information on gliding and other aerial activities and events at the Gariep Dam airfield.
Angling is very popular on the dam, as is cycling around the dam, with various tours on offer. A number of angling and cycling events are held each year.
Other activities at the Gariep Dam include dam wall tours, quad biking, canoeing, water-skiing, jet-skiing, hiking, horse-riding and game viewing – by boat, foot or vehicle. The Gariep Dam Nature Reserve lies along the northern shore of the Gariep Dam and is notable for the largest population of Springbok in South Africa and a population of rare and highly endangered Cape Mountain Zebra.
The town of Gariep Dam on the bank is one of the youngest towns in South Africa, and has developed over the years around the popularity of the dam as a sports and leisure venue for South Africans and International tourists alike.
Getting there: From Bloemfontein take the N1 south towards Colesburg. From Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape take the N2 toward Grahamstown. Just outside of PE, turn left on to the N10 for Cradock. At Cradock take the R390 and continue on this road through Hofmeyr and Steynsburg to the Gariep Dam.
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