Plan your trip

Getaway (South Africa) - - TRAVEL -

GET­TING THERE

Fly to Bloem­fontein. Drive south-west on the N1 to the Gariep Dam area – about 200km. Flights from Cape Town to Bloem­fontein with Mango are from R2 708 and from Joburg, with South African Air­ways, from R1 998 re­turn. trav­el­start.co.za

NEED TO KNOW

The laid-back pace in the Gariep area means es­tab­lish­ments have a slow start. The av­er­age open­ing time for most shops and restau­rants is 9am (later on a Sun­day). If you plan on fish­ing or boat­ing, bring your own gear.

STAY HERE

Adamsview com­prises lux­ury and stan­dard self-cater­ing units. All have air con­di­tion­ers, DStv and a pa­tio and gar­den area to soak up the sun. Lux­ury units (one has a spa bath fac­ing the dam) from R650 pp shar­ing, stan­dard units from R450 pp shar­ing. 082-622-3366, adamsview.co.za De Stijl Gariep Ho­tel has a restau­rant with mag­i­cal views of the dam. There are 43 newly fur­nished rooms, all with the stan­dard ameni­ties. Pets are wel­come, if they are knee high or smaller – a sleep­ing bas­ket is pro­vided. From R1 120pp shar­ing. 051-754-0060, des­tijl.co.za Gariep Dam Caravan Park is right on the edge of the dam. Camp­sites with elec­tric­ity cost R250 pp (max­i­mum five peo­ple), those with­out are R150 pp. Rates in­clude the reserve en­try fee. 051-754-0026, gariep­dam.co.za

DO THIS

Con­nect with na­ture on a 25km game- and bird-view­ing drive in the Gariep Dam Na­ture Reserve. Wildlife in­cludes brown hye­nas, black wilde­beest, red har­te­beest and bat-eared foxes. Birds to spot in­clude blue cranes, mar­tial ea­gles, fish ea­gles and Cape teals. En­trance R70 per car (max­i­mum five pas­sen­gers, R15 per ex­tra per­son). 051-754-0026 Go fish­ing in the Gariep Dam in the reserve, strictly catch and re­lease. The large-mouth yel­low­fish here are listed as a vul­ner­a­ble species. Angling costs R40 pp. 051-754-0026

Walk in­side the Gariep

Dam wall and learn about hy­dro­elec­tric power. The 13km walk is not rec­om­mended if you have claus­tro­pho­bia. Wear com­fort­able shoes and take some­thing warm. Free, but it’s es­sen­tial to book. 082-888-8386 Get out on the wa­ter with Gariep Boat Cruises from the For­ever Re­sort. Take your own food and drinks. R120 pp for an hour. 051-754-0190 Snap a pic­ture on the Hen­nie Steyn Bridge near Bethulie. Built in 1879, it spans 1.2km over the Or­ange River be­tween the East­ern Cape and Free State. Go back in his­tory at the Pel­lissier House Mu­seum in Bethulie, which has ex­hibits of life in this re­gion dur­ing the 1800s. Free en­try. 051-762-2525 Hike in Ovis­ton Na­ture Reserve near Ven­ter­stad (you’ll need a high-clear­ance ve­hi­cle to get here). Rec­om­mended by lo­cals, it en­com­passes 16 000 hectares, and has well-marked walk­ing trails. There is also a guided overnight hike. En­try R20 adults, R10 kids. 087-285-7390 Visit the Nor­val­spont Con­cen­tra­tion Camp. Some 366 Boer women and chil­dren died in cap­tiv­ity here dur­ing the An­glo-Boer War (1899 to 1902). Open daily; free en­try. *Prices cor­rect at time of go­ing to print

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