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The massive Vaal River is 1120 kms long, perhaps South Africa's greatest river. This important river forms the border between Mpumalanga, Gauteng, the North West Province and the Free State.The source is in Mpumalanga, it then flows west and eventually joins the Orange River in the Northern Cape.
The Vaal river is the most popular and closest water sport and relaxation destination for Gauteng, and is surrounded by lovely scenery. It provides the main water supply for Johannesburg and Pretoria, the main cities of Gauteng, and is the major source of irrigation for agriculture.
The main towns along the river include Vereeniging, Vanderbijlpark, Heidelberg, Sasolburg, Deneysville and Parys.
What To Do
The scenic river provides the most popular leisure destination in Gauteng. There are Nature Reserves, dams, golf courses and facilities for watersports and adventure activities. Quad biking, fishing, hiking and abseiling are all provided.
Speed boats, canoes, jetskis, paddle boats and River Cruises are all available.
The hundreds of small islands in the river cause rapids. White river rafting is available all year, the best season being from November to January.
The Vredefort Dome near Parys, is where a gigantic meteor hit earth. It is the biggest meteor site geologists have ever found on the planet, twice the size of the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs. This enormous hissing fireball plunged into the earth, thankfully 2000 million years ago, and left an impact 300 kms wide. Hence it was declared a World Heritage Site.
The Vaal River flows through the dome, which nowadays is a tranquil sanctuary with many leisure activities and beautiful wild scenery. These include abseiling, canoeing, 4x4 trails, horse riding, white river rafting and more.
The Vaal Meander
For the huge tourist demand many art and craft and farmers markets are along the way, on the Vaal Meander. There are also events like air shows and music festivals. For shopping there is the upmarket River Square and the Vaal Mall Centre and many more in the small towns.
Where to Eat
There are numerous pubs, restaurants, country bistros, fast food outlets and cafes all along the small towns along the river.
Where to Stay
Expensive riverfront houses line the banks of the Vaal.
There are luxury hotels, lovely guest houses ranging from 5 star to rustic, b&b’s, game lodges, country retreats, conference centres and even houseboats.
The National Sea Rescue has more boats on the river and dam than anywhere else in the country. The dam alone has 880 kms of shoreline and hosts international powerboat races.
Access is by road. The N1, N3 and R57 all provide easy access to the river.
Unless exploring with a tour operator it is best to hire a car. Otherwise many Gauteng residents fly there in helicopters.