The Free State’s Gariep Dam Nature Reserve offers visitors fantastic fishing and all kinds of watersports. For those that prefer dry land there’s game viewing, horseback rides and hiking to absorb the rich natural environment and spectacular dam. Accommodation is plentiful and the reserve is the perfect stop between Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Did you know?

About 200 000 hectares of land is irrigated from the Gariep Dam.

The Gariep Dam Nature Reserve is a haven for anglers, watersports enthusiasts and game watchers. The reserve is over 11 000 hectares in size and has the largest herd of springbok in South Africa. It is situated on the northern shore of the vast 36 487-hectare Gariep Dam on the Orange River.

The Gariep Dam in the Free State is a watersport enthusiast's heaven with sailing, power boating, canoeing, angling, swimming and skiing while a tour of the dam wall, which is an astonishing engineering feat, takes visitors right down to the bedrock.

Situated between Bloemfontein and Colesberg in the Free State this nature reserve is a perfect respite on the long drive from Johannesburg to Cape Town or vice versa.

The whole family can relax at the adjoining privately owned Aventura Resort with its choice of activities, including swimming, tennis, golf, mini-golf and watersports. You have the option to stay at the resort or at one of a range of guesthouses and B&Bs in Gariep Dam Village near this Free State nature reserve.

The area is famed for its game and bird life. Game includes impressive herds of Cape Mountain zebra, red hartebeest and black wildebeest.

On the sporting side, visitors can enjoy river rafting, canoeing, boat rides and fishing. The Gariep 500 Rubber Duck Race and Watersport Festival is held in February each year.

Travel tips & Planning info

How to get here

Follow the N1, the major route between Cape Town and Johannesburg, and take the R71 off ramp halfway between Springfontein and Colesberg. Here you will find the Gariep Dam Nature Reserve.

Best time to visit

All year round.

Around the area

The Norvalspont Concentration Camp Graveyard and Stable Inn Environmental Education Centre offer interesting activities in the area.

Tours to do

Guided tours of Gariep Dam wall and local fish hatchery.

Get around

You will need your own vehicle, unless you are on a tour.

Where to stay

A number of guest houses, hotels and bed & breakfasts offer accommodation in the Gariep Dam area.

What's happening

Visitors can enjoy game drives, fishing, river rafting and canoeing, boat trips, the Watersport Festival and the Gariep 500 Rubber Duck Race in February.

Related articles