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Vanderkloof Dam – second largest dam in South Africa

I like to detour via the Gariep Dam rather than Colesburg when heading north, usually for work or my daughter’s cricket. The same can’t be said for the Vanderkloof Dam though. I think the last time I saw it it was still called the PK le Roux Dam and I was still in primary school. Having some extra time on our hands on a recent trip to Bloemfontein (for cricket again), we decided to detour via the dam and Orania for a little exploring.

The Vanderkloof Dam is situated 130km downstream of the Gariep Dam on the Orange River. It has the highest dam in South Africa with a wall height of 107m and a crest length of 765m compared to the Gariep Dam which is 88 m high and has a crest length of 914 m.  The Vanderkloof Dam also has the second largest storage reservoir in South Africa after the Gariep Dam.

Similar to Gariep Dam, the Vanderkloof Dam is a composite gravity arch dam. It has four gates installed in the wall that can discharge up to 8 500 m3/s in total through the flood sluices which are positioned on the left flank of the dam. The dam forms an integral component of the Orange River Project (together with Gariep Dam) and supplies water to the Riet River catchment as well as to the various users along the remaining 1 400 km of the Orange River.

The town of Vanderkloof is located on the southern bank of the dam. When the dam is full, it stretches 100km long and is perfect for most watersports as well as angling in designated spots at the dam. The 6 200ha Rolfontein Nature Reserve is located on the northwestern shore of the dam and is home to eland, gemsbok, red hartebeest, Burchell’s zebra, white rhinoceros, kudu, springbok, grey duiker, bat-eared fox, baboon, vervet monkey, aardvark and aardwolf.

Getting to the dam is a bit of a detour off the direct route between the coast and inland but it was worth the trip, especially with it overflowing.