A village built in 1960 to house the dam’s labour force, now developed into a holiday resort serving the largest inland expanse of water in South Africa.

The town Gariep Dam, (the youngest town in South Africa) situated alongside the N1, is perhaps better known to most for the man made 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.

Gariep Dam has two main tourist attractions in the Free State, namely the Nature Reserve and the A Forever 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 Gariep 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.

Gariep Dam founded as “Oranjekrag”, is a settlement in Xhariep District Municipality in the Free State (province) of South Africa.

Gariep Dam is a township on the northern bank of the Orange River.

Gareip Dan falls under the Kopanong Local Municipality which is a Category B municipality situated within the Xhariep District of the Free State Province. It is the largest of the three municipalities in the district, making up almost half of its geographical area.
Basic agricultural products are exported from the area for processing and re-imported into the area as consumer products. Historical events that took place in the municipality, aspects of the natural and man-made environment and local activities may form the basis for promoting tourism as a significant economic activity.

Cities/Towns in the same municipal area are: Bethulie, Edenburg, Fauresmith, Jagersfontein, Philippolis, Reddersburg, Springfontein, Trompsburg, Waterkloof

Gariep Dam Tourism


Only registered as a municipality in 1994, the town of Gariep Dam was voted the Volksblad Tourism Town of the Year for 2010. What makes it so special?

  • Site of the first hydro-electric power station built by Eskom.
  • 13km of passages and halls within the Gariep Dam wall.
  • Fishing and water sport on the dam.
  • The annual Gariep Dam Water Sport Festival every February.
  • The Free State’s largest nature reserve – Gariep Dam Nature Reserve.


Forever Resorts Gariep is located 190km south of Bloemfontein and situated on the banks of South Africa’s largest dam, the Gariep Dam. Tour the dam wall with 13km tunnels, view springbok and Cape mountain zebra in the neighbouring reserve and enjoy an extensive range of water sport. Modern conference facilities are available and the resort is an ideal wedding venue. The dam is a water sport enthusiast’s paradise, stretching 90 kilometers in length and 374 square kilometers in size, making sailing, jet skiing and power boating a pleasure.

Gariep Power station

Contact: 051-7540400 / 071 757 6762
The first hydro-electric power station built by Eskom. Tours through the power station can be arranged at the plant.


Award-winning Gariep, A Forever Resort is the perfect stopover between Gauteng and the Cape, 180 km South of Bloemfontein, just off the N1. The Gariep Dam is the largest dam in South Africa, bordering three provinces namely Free State, Northern Cape and Eastern Cape.

Facilities, Activities & Things To Do

On-site obstacle course. 4×4 Track nearby, 4×4 Trails
Bird Watching
Boat Cruises – Bookings essential: 051-754 0190
Canoeing activities in the area. Own Equipment Canoeing
Conferencing & Weddings
Day Visitors – Excluding Holidays
Fishing – Own Equipment
Guided Dam Wall Tours – Enquire at Reception
Kiddies’ Play Park
Kiddies’ Splash Pool
Kiosk At Swimming Pool – Enquire at Reception for operating hours
Motor Boating – Own Equipment
MTB Trails – Own equipment
On-Site Restaurant & Bar
Picnic Areas
Sailing – Own Equipment
Scenic Tractor Rides – Bookings essential: 051-754 0190
Cold water swimming pool
Tennis – Equipment for hire. Enquire at Reception
Volleyball – Equipment for hire. Enquire at Reception
Walking Trails

Contact A First resort:

Physical address

2 Fiskaal Street
Gariep Dam
Free State
South Africa

Give us a call

 Property Reception: +27 (0)51-754 0045
 Property Reservations: +27 (0)51-754 0045
 Central Reservations: +27(0)12 423 5600
 Conferencing: +27 (0)51-754 0045
 Weddings: +27 (0)51-754 0045

E-Mail: info@foreversa.co.za

Fish Hatchery

See how Yellow Fish, Carp and Barbel are hatched.

Gariep Dam Wall

Arrange with the Department of Water Affairs for a tour through the dam wall. There are 13 km of passages and halls within the walls of the Gariep Dam. During the yearly water festival, church services and dances are held in the dam wall where up to 400 people are present.

Gariep Nature Reserve

The reserve covers an area of 13 500 ha when the dam is full. Game that you may encounter on the 25 km long tourist roads are the following: Black and Blue Wildebeest, Blesbuck, Springbuck, Cape Mountain Zebra, Ostrich, Red Hartebeest, Vaal Rhebuck, Mountain Reedbuck, Duiker and Steenbok

Norvalspont Concentration Camp

In February 1901 Capt Wynne laid out the Norvalspont concentration camp. The inhabitants received the same rations as in all the other camps established in the period namely: 3/4lb of either mealie meal, rice or potatoes, 1lb of meat twice weekly, 1oz of coffee daily, sugar 2oz daily, and salt ½ oz daily. 366 people died in the camp and the main cause of death were measles.

Shell collection

View this beautiful and outstanding collection of more than 4000 shells at 10 Tinktinkie St.

Gareip Dam is on the Springbok Route, which connects the Free State with the Northern Cape, winds through the scenic farmlands and nature reserves of the Xhariep District.  A wealth of cultural and historical attractions en route include battle sites, San rock engravings, game farms and diamond mines.

The towns along the Springbok route are:


Registered Gariep Dam Information.

No of dam D350/02
Name of the dam GARIEP DAM
Water management area 6
Quaternary Drainage Area D34A
Latitude deg 30
Lat min 37
Lat sec 23
Longitude deg 25
Long min 30
Long sec 23
Town nearest GARIEP
Distance from Town 2
Name of farm GOOD HOPE 315
DWS Provincial Office / Region FREE STATE
Completion date 1971
Completion date raised
River or Watercourse ORANGE
Wall type ARCH
Wall height 73
Crest Length (m) 884
Capacity (1000 cub m) 5342932
Surface area (ha) 35216
Catchment area (sq km)) 70665
Registration date 1987/01/02
Size Large
Hazard Potential High
Category 3
Classification date 1987/07/07
Sector W
Date Last DSE 2015/04/01
Number Last DSE 5
Target date next DSE 2020/07/30


Return to the registered dams information page HERE.

Key Statistics 2011

Total population 1,568
Young (0-14) 28,9%
Working Age (15-64) 62,9%
Elderly (65+) 8,2%
Dependency ratio 58,9
Sex ratio 98,6
Population density 63 persons/km2
No schooling aged 20+ 6,8%
Higher education aged 20+ 7,9%
Matric aged 20+ 32,4%
Number of households 462
Average household size 2,8
Female headed households 37%
Formal dwellings 87,7%
Housing owned/paying off 49,7%
Flush toilet connected to sewerage 95,2%
Weekly refuse removal 96,7%
Piped water inside dwelling 79,7%
Electricity for lighting 98,7%