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The dam wall

Gariep Dam is a town of 1,600 people (2011) in the Free State province of South Africa next to the dam with the same name. It is a popular outdoor destination for boating and water sports enthusiasts, and makes a good break on the journey between Cape Town and Johannesburg.


The dam is on the Orange River about 48 km (30 mi) north-east of Colesberg and 208 km (129 mi) south of Bloemfontein. It is in a gorge at the entrance to the Ruigte Valley some 5 km (3.1 mi) east of Norvalspont. The dam crest is some 1300 m (4250 ft) above sea level.

The wall is 88 m high and has a crest length of 914 m and contains approximately 1.73 million m³ of concrete. The Gariep Dam is the largest storage reservoir in South Africa. In South African English, 'dam' refers both to the structure and the water volume it retains. Gariep Dam has a surface area of more than 370 km² (140 sq mi) when full. The hydro-electrical power station houses four 90 MW generators.

Get in[edit]


Gariep Dam is the youngest town in South Africa, having been proclaimed a town on 4 October 1996.

Take the marked turn off from the N1 highway or take the R58 from Colesberg.

Get around[edit]



  • The Gariep Dam Nature Reserve on the northern shore of the dam is the Free State’s largest nature reserve. It has the largest population of springbok in the country.
  • Water sports (like sailing, jet skiing and power boating)
  • Gliding — international glidingvevenrs are held over the dam





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