Visit Gariep Dam

Experience the magic of the largest storage reservoir on South Africa

Email Us

The town Gariep Dam, (the youngest town in South Africa) situated alongside the N1, is perhaps better known to most for the manmade Gariep Dam (which is the largest dam in South Africa with a radius of 360 square kilometres) which forms part of the Orange River Development Scheme.

The sheer magnificence of this more than 100km long and 24km wide dam, is indeed sufficient to testify to the exceptional engineering and success of Africa's largest water supply scheme.

The great Orange River project which was started in 1928 gave rise to the Hendrik Verwoerd Dam. The Town and Kampong areas were erected in the early 1960's. The rural area became known as Oranjekrag and accommodated 3500 people all involved with the construction of the dam wall. The completion date of construction was 31 August 1969.

The realisation of a temporary town never materialized. Today there are more than 600 permanent residents living in the Town.

Gariep Dam has two main tourist attractions in the Free State, namely the Nature Reserve and the Resort Aventura Midwaters. The towns official status as the Municipal of Verwoerd Dam was proclaimed on 21 April 1994. The name was officially changed on 4 October 1996 to Gairep Dam.

Gariep Dam is the most central point of the Republic of South Africa. An excellent road network connects the town to the Eastern Cape, North and South Namibia and Botswana.

The town also has a airfield with a double tarred runway. International gliding championships are held annually in December at the airfield. Overseas gliders agree that Gariep Dam is the mecca for gliding competitions to set up world records for gliding.


Gariep Dam - The sleeping giant

Lake Gariep is the largest fresh water expanse in South Africa, situated in the Orange River, with a shoreline of 435 km and a surface area of 360 km2. As such it offers tremendous possibilities in terms of outdoor sports and tourism adventure. One of the off-spins is that a tri-provincial tourism developmental initiative has been formed, called the Lake !Gariep Tourism Route, linking the towns of Gariep Dam, Oviston, Venterstad and Bethulie.

At the town of Gariep Dam is the Lake !Gariep Tourism & Craft Centre consisting of the Louis Maré-Gariep Dam Museum, Accommodation Info Office and Coffee Shop. Contact number (051) 754 0594 / 083 259 6439 /

In and around the town there are also the De Stijl Hotel, the Forever Aventure Gariep Resort, the Riversmead Resort, a total of 10 guesthouses and six guest farms / lodges.

Things to do and places to visit include guided tours through the Gariep Dam wall as well as the Gariep Nature Reserve, and various facilities for fishing, picnicking, river rafting, horse riding, boating, etc.

The various sport events at the towns surrounding Lake !Gariep has recently proven that sport-tourism has become one of the major marketing tools for the Lake! Gariep initiative, e.g:

The airfield at the town forms annually from November - February the centre of attraction for gliders across the world. Each year in February the Gariep 500 Rubber Duck Race is a popular item for speed boat owners and enthusiasts. The Free State Yacht Club has its base at Gariep Dam town, presenting regatta's every month. The SA Hunter's Society has since 2004 presented their annual target shooting competition at Gariep Dam town. The Round-the-lake cycling competition is one of the cycling race tours of national significance. Angling at the dam is a highly popular sport with various competitions. The latest addition is the prestigious Eric van Enter Cycling Competition, sanctioned by Cycling South Africa. Thus Gariep Dam or Lake !Gariep is a sleeping tourism giant waiting to be properly awakened!

Fish Hatchery See how Yellow Fish, Carp and Barbel are hatched.

Gariep Dam Wall Arrange with the Department of Water Affairs for a tour through the dam wall. There are 13 km of passages and halls within the walls of the Gariep Dam. During the yearly water festival, church services and dances are held in the dam wall where up to 400 people are present.

Arrange with the Department of Water Affairs for a tour through the dam wall. Tel: +27 (0) 51-754 0001\2 during office hours.

Gariep Nature Reserve The reserve covers an area of 13 500 ha when the dam is full. Game that you may encounter on the 25 km long tourist roads are the following: Black and Blue Wildebeest, Blesbuck, Springbuck, Cape Mountain Zebra, Ostrich, Red Hartebeest, Vaal Rhebuck, Mountain Reedbuck, Duiker and Steenbok

Tel: +27 (0) 51-754 0026.

Gariep Power Station The first hydro-electric power station built by Escom. Tours through the power station can be arranged at 051-754 0400.

Norvalspont Concentration Camp In February 1901 Capt Wynne laid out the Norvalspont concentration camp. The inhabitants received the same rations as in all the other camps established in the period namely: 3/4lb of either mealie meal, rice or potatoes, 1lb of meat twice weekly, 1oz of coffee daily, sugar 2oz daily, and salt ½ oz daily. 366 people died in the camp and the main cause of death were measles.

Shell collection View this beautiful and outstanding collection of more than 4000 shells at 10 Tinktinkie St.

Gariep Dam Gliding Gariep Dam, South Africa, is the Southern Hemisphere's best long distance gliding site. Gariep Gliding Centre, South Africa's Premier Sport Aviation Centre.


The Kopanong Municipal area is situated in the southern Free State. It has the largest surface area of the three local municipalities in the Xhariep district, covering 15 190 square kilometres (44,5%). The nine towns situated in Kopanong are Trompsburg (municipal head office), Gariep Dam, Springfontein, Bethulie, Philippolis, Jagersfontein, Fauresmith, Edenburg and Reddersburg.


The second Quenna Festival promises to be bigger and better than before. The purpose of this festival was to introduce the Gariep Dam area to the general public. This was achieved as Gariep Dam was voted the Volksblad Tourism Town of the Year for 2010.

The festival starts with the official opening of the 40+ handpicked stalls, slides, paintball, food and beer tent, and one of the many artists coming to entertain us. These artists include Wynand Strydom, Cheree, Liza Bronner, Esti, Dusty Dixon, the band SWEID, Melissa, Marizanne Bekker, Andre Johnson and even a proper “boere” band. Rugby shall be shown on the big screen in the beer tent. On the Friday and Saturday there shall be games and activities with prize money exceeding R50 000.

All shows on the festival stage are free of charge and included in the entry fee of R50-00 for day visitors (applicable from the Friday to the Sunday). For guests staying on the resort there are additional fees to attend the festival. During the festival the local ATKV branch will host a flower arranging show and competition on Friday 25 February 2011. It is an accredited “Orange Flower Union” Competition. Themes will be selected from the epic poem “RAKA” from the pen of NP van Wyk Louw. Prizes to the value of more than R20 000 are up for grabs.

More Info? Telephone +27 (0)82 888-5807