The Free State's largest nature reserve is a combination of the 36 487 ha Gariep Dam (which holds back a vast 6 000 million cubic litres of water) on the Orange River and an 11 237 ha game sanctuary on its northern shore.
From the dam some 200 000 ha of land is irrigated, by means of a tunnel of 83,8 km, delivering water to the upper valleys of the Fish River, and then from another 13,2 km tunnel to the Sundays River. The dam covers some 374 square kilometers.
With the supply of some 455 million litres of water to the dry Karoo region around it, the hydro electric scheme generates 600 000 kilowatts of power, as well. The dam was officially opened in 1972 and has long been popular with anglers and boating enthusiasts.
The game reserve accommodates the largest population of springbok in any reserve in the country and also features Cape mountain zebra, klipspringer, black wildebeest, red hartebeest and ostrich.
Situated between Bloemfontein and Colesberg in the Free State, it is an ideal place to stop over on your way between Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Adjoining the Reserve and close to the Gariep Dam Wall, is the privately owned Forever Resorts Gariep
, with an extensive range of sporting and entertainment facilities that are available to the whole family, like swimming, tennis, golf, trampolines, bowls, mini golf and water sports.
The Gariep Dam accommodation
options for visitors in the village vary from a hotel to self catering chalets.
Water sports and attractions include sailing, power boating, canoeing, skiing, angling and sporting. A tour through the dam wall could also be done, down to the bedrock - an amazing feat of engineering that beholds your eyes.