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 with plenty of accommodation options for visitors.
Gariep Dam has two main tourist attractions in the Free State, namely the Gariep Dam Nature Reserve and the Forever Resorts Gariep - a holiday resort.
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.