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Vaal Oewer lies along the shores of the Vaal River, a tributary of the larger Orange River that separates South Africa from its northern neighbours. Vaal Oewer is a riverside town that falls under the Emfuleni municipality which includes Vanderbijlpark and Vereeniging, the two main towns in this southern part of the Gauteng Province.
The word Vaal Oewer is Afrikaans for Vaal banks, more specifically – along the banks of the Vaal River. The word Vaal means murky and aptly describes the dark waters of this river.
Temperatures around Vaal Oewer are mild with warm summer days and cold, dry winters. Fisherman visit the area in winter when the river water is much clearer.
Vaal Oewer is a tranquil spot, rich in birdlife offering stunning sunsets over the river. For the jaded traveller, a layover here is sure to revitalise the spirit.
Top 6 reasons to visit Vaal Oewer
1. Hop on the river ferry to enjoy a booze cruise along the river. Watch the birds prepare to roost while the sun goes down and if fortunate, see a water monitor lounging on the river banks.
2. At Vaal Oewer you are on the river front, hire a fishing rod and drop a line from the grassed banks where carp and yellowfish are abundant.
3. The Vaal River Meander Wine Route happens every winter when around 12 different venues along the river are chosen to showcase the more than 200 wines produced in this area. Many of the wines are not available commercially and the best way to travel the route is by houseboat.
4. The occasional Vaal Oewer Country Market is a fun family event offering handmade crafts, fresh produce and live music. Water activities include kayak races and a fishing competition.
5. The Emerald Resort and Casino is a short distance away. The casino has 540 slot machines and 22 gaming tables and a number of activities for the family: an exotic animal park, a water park and game safaris to view buck, wildebeest and giraffe.
6. The Vredefort Dome is a UNESCO World Heritage Site so vast that you won’t even know you are in the meteorite crater! The only hints are the diverse vegetation and the shattered and unusual rock formations. The quaint town of Parys is at its centre, popular for Afrikaans-style cuisine, mampoer (spirit) distilleries, buchu (fynbos plant) beer brewing, art galleries and friendly residents.
Vaal Oewer is 110km, via toll road, from OR Tambo International Airport. Chartered flights land at the Vereeniging Airport 45km away. Several car hire companies are based in Vereeniging and the airport or you could order a rental online. There are a number of metered taxis operating in Vereeniging and Vanderbijlpark for trips in and around the area and shuttle service companies will transport you further afield.
Did you know?
The gigantic meteorite that smashed into this part of the world over 2 billion years ago and resulted in what is now known as the Vredefort Dome, uprooted rocks 20km deep into the earth’s crust, giving scientists the opportunity to better understand the earth’s composition.
Crossing the Vaal River from Vaal Oewer will take you into the Free State Province and by travelling outside of the Vaal Oewer western border, you will have reached the North West Province.
For a more down to earth experience there are guest houses. Less expensive than hotels, they offer a more homey environment, as well as more privacy. Converted from a private house it’s a much gentler environment and for those with furry friends, there are also pet friendly options. They are usually well situated with shops and places of interest nearby. Being so small it offers a much more personal and intimate attention to it’s upkeep, leaving you with a more polished and homely experience.