Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserve, North West
Did you know?
At full capacity, Bloemhof is one of the country's largest man-made dams.
The Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserve centres on the Bloemhof Dam, one of the largest dams in South Africa. Situated on the lower region of the Vaal River, the dam not only supplies industry and agriculture, but is also an important recreational resource for the North West and Free State provinces.
Despite wildlife populations that include black and white rhinoceros, large herds of eland, oryx, springbuck, black wildebeest and small predators, angling is by far this North West nature reserve’s most popular activity, followed by bird watching.
Comprising a mix of Kalahari scrub and thornveld, and some wetland on the shores of the dam, the terrain of the Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserve is open and flat.
The reserve has over 250 species of bird, and is especially good for spotting herons, storks, geese, ducks and cormorants. Seasonal migrants include flamingos, terns and teal.
The reserve's birds are accustomed to vehicle traffic, thus making it easy (except in the wet season) for bird-watchers to drive up close to the dam and view large populations of waterfowl from the comfort of their cars.
Exceptional sports fishing, by boat or from the shore, is the reason the Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserve draws anglers from as far as sub-Saharan Africa to test their line skills against the dam’s carp, grass carp and barbel. Also resident in the dam are indigenous yellow fish, which must be released if caught. Angling is also permitted on the Vaal River below the dam wall.
Few predators mean Bloemhof Dam’s fish are plentiful, reach an above average size, and put up a good fight all year-round, to the delight of the anglers competing in regional, national and international fishing competitions held here throughout the year.
Though the Bloemhof Dam is shallow compared to other dams, it’s still a prime summertime spot for boating, jet skiing, canoeing, and yachting, with boat launch facilities provided.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserve
Tel: +27 (0) 53 433 1706
How to get here
From Johannesburg, follow the N12 west for 320km to the Bloemhof turn-off (the R34). The Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserve is 4km east of Bloemhof on the R34 toward Hoopstad.
Around the area
On the Free State province side of the dam, visit the Strandveld Nature Reserve, or in nearby Christiana, enjoy water sports on the Vaal River, or soak in one of the Aventura Vaal Spa’s hot mineral pools.
To visit the Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserve you’ll need your own car. When the dam is in flood, or in an exceptionally rainy season, muddy conditions favour a 4x4 vehicle.
What will it cost
Adults R35 per person; children (2 to12 years) and pensioners R20 pp; once–off angling fee R20 pp.
What to pack
Angers must bring all their own equipment. Binoculars and a camera for game viewing and bird watching. Good sun protection and insect repellent is essential if fishing or picnicking. The climate is generally mild to hot.
Where to stay
Camping is the most popular way to overnight in the reserve. Alternatively you can rent self-catering cottages, log cabins, or a hunting lodge, at very reasonable rates.
What to eat
In peak fishing season, from September to April, the park operates a shop selling basic provisions. Day and overnight visitors should stock up on necessities in the nearby town of Bloemhof.
The Bloemhof Dam Nature Reserve hosts the Tri-Nations and the Bloemhof Bonanza angling competitions annually, and regularly plays host to the Ladies World Match Angling Championships.