The Vaal Dam is one of the closest and most popular weekend destinations in Gauteng. It is located about 145kms south of Johannesburg, about an hour and a half's drive, and 175kms from Pretoria. The dam is the fourth largest in South Africa and a favourite place for those in the land-locked provinces to enjoy all kinds of water sports.
The dam was completed in 1938, and even has an island that is almost 5km long. It is known for hosting many exciting world class sports events, including the famous Round The Island yacht race. The Vaal Dam is unusual as its shoreline spans across three provinces, the Free state, Gauteng and Mpumalanga.
Things to do
The main activities at the Vaal Dam are mainly around the many Water sports on offer! There is skiing, jet skiing, wake boarding, scuba diving, rowing, yachting, windsurfing, white water rafting, tubing, and canoeing. The dam is fabulous for speed boating, and a great place to keep a boat.
However, one could rather just relax and float around on a lilo, take a relaxed swim, or indulge in drinks on a boat cruise. For fishing enthusiasts the dam offers many quiet and secluded spots perfect for an afternoon of fishing.
Land based activities are also on offer. One could take a relaxed cycle along one of the many tracks surrounding the dam, or heat things up on one of the mountain biking paths. Other adventure activities include rock climbing; which provides spectacular views of the dam, paintball, which is great fun for the whole family, and Laser Tag.
For all bird enthusiasts, there is a Vaal Birding Route that extends from Denvor to Vredefort and has over 360 species of birds to see.
Golfing There is a variety of courses at the Vaal Dam for beginners as well as the experts.
Horse Riding is available along the shores of the Vaal River as well as on scenic routes.
Where to eat
Quarterdeck is a great restaurant to enjoy with the whole family after a fun filled day of activities. They overlook the dam and serve good home made dishes at a reasonable price.
The Village Inn offers 24/7 convenience and clay oven cooked A grade meat and fish to enjoy, just bring your own plate.
Looking for eastern dishes that are Halaal, then Musafiers is the place to visit with a variety of dishes and a Salaal room available for prayer.
The Country Kitchen offers a selection of simple pizzas and pastas to enjoy.
Tranquility and relaxation is what you get when you go to Pont de Val Riverside Bistro which is located on the rivers edge.
Breeze is a great place to enjoy a night out with live entertainment and assortment of delicious meals. They are located at the Emerald Resort and Casino.
Where to stay
The Vaal Dam has wonderful choices of accommodation to suit all budgets and needs. Types of accommodation include B&Bs, Guesthouses, as well as Backpacker accommodation for those just passing through.
For those looking for more rustic accommodation and to be surrounded by nature, there are several Camp Sites and Caravan Parks to choose from.
There are also luxurious Hotels; House Boats that float along the sensational river, and of course Self Catering Accommodation which is great for family get togethers or just being with friends.
Air: The nearest airport is OR Tambo International Airport which is approximately 77 km away.
Car Rental: If one wants to explore at leisure the best option is to rent a car.
Tours: A great way to get around and see all the Vaal Dam has to offer would be to take one of the many tours on offer.
Did you know?
The Vaal Dam is mainly in the Free State, which enjoys warm to very hot summer months with an average temperature on 23 degrees. Most rainfall is in summer. Winter months are cool to very cold with an average temperature of 8 degrees. The winters are dry however, and feel bracing and invigorating.
The dam can store up to 2600 million cubic meters of water at full capacity and another 0.6 million of temporary flood water.
The Vaal Dam has a high evaporation rate which makes it less efficient as a reservoir because of it’s 800 km shoreline.
The water from the dam supplies Gauteng with drinking, mining and industrial water, the Free State with drinking and irrigation water, as well as Mpumalanga with drinking and irrigation water.
The Vaal Dam is often misspelt as vaaal dam, Vall dam, Vaal Damn, Vall Dam.
The island in the middle of the dam has the Guinness Book of World Records title for holding for the largest inland yacht race, which is great fun to watch.
The largest town located on the Vaal Dam is Deneysville.