Plan your trip
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.
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
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