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South Africa’s Best Dams

There is something so special about a day spent outdoors in the African sun. No matter the time of year, you are able to catch some beautiful weather and bask in the glory of the scenery we get to call home.

From safaris to skiing in the snow, there is a climate and landscape for every season and every taste. In South Africa, we are lucky to have some of the most spectacular dams open to visiting. There are many dams across the country that boast clean and safe picnicking sites, impressive fishing and good boating and canoeing facilities.

Whether you are looking for a quiet day out fishing on your boat, planning a relaxing picnic with the family or want some sites to stop at on a road trip – here are some of the best and most breath-taking dams South Africa has to offer.

Albert Falls Dam

Found in Pietermaritzburg in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Albert Falls dam sits within the Albert Falls Nature Reserve. It originates from the Umgeni River and was established in 1976. It is one of the largest dams in Kwa-Zulu Natal. Many people frequent the dam fishing, canoeing, bird watching and picnicking. The surrounding nature reserve means there are often wildlife sightings.

Albert Falls Dam is rated one of the best bass fishing dams in the world, and there is an annual international bass fishing competition held at the dam.

Lady Grey Dam

Lady Grey Dam is set in a beautiful valley and is back-dropped by mountains, trees, and old rustic buildings. It is an exquisitely scenic dam and is worth the visit if you are near. The dam is found in Lady Grey, Eastern Cape.

The dam is sheltered in deep settler history. All the houses around the dam were built to face the first church built in the village – approximately in 1860. The dam wall is 25m high and the dam holds 157.5ML of water. The dam was officially re-opened in 1925.

It is a dam for the sightseers and will certainly take your breath away. Immerse yourself in the history of the area and see the dam how it would’ve been seen by farmers nearly 200 years ago.

Berg River Dam

This dam is set in the incredible Franschhoek region in the Western Cape. Once the dam was established, indigenous plants were planted downstream to ensure the dam blended in with the surrounding scenery.

The dam helps increase the water supply into the shorted Cape Town. It is 68m high and was the first dam built in South Africa that falls under the guidelines of the World Commission on Dams.

The surrounding area shows off the magnificent scenery in the Western Cape, and Franschhoek is such a great small town for tourists to visit.

Midmar Dam

Boating, waterskiing, fishing, and swimming are all popular activities at Midmar Dam. The dam is found near Howick in Pietermaritzburg, Kwa-Zulu Natal. It has a whopping capacity of 235,400 megaliters and covers 3860 acres. There are camping and picnicking areas around the dam, each with their own unique feel

Every year the Midmar Mile is held at the dam where swimmers complete a mile across the water. It is considered one of the largest open water swimming events in the world.

During the winter the areas around the dam do become very cold, but it is still a great time of year to take in the winter scenery. Summer is an absolute blast around the dam with families spending the days in the warm sun and splashing around the cool waters. The Midlands Meander is close by – stop by some of the quaint shops and locations to catch a meal or a craft beer.

Driekloof Dam

Found in Harrismith within the Free State, Driekloof forms an integral part of the Drakensberg Pumped Storage Scheme which is run by Eskom.

It is a portion cut off from the Sterkfontein Dam. It was opened in 1979 and has a surface area of 1.906 square kilometres, a dam wall that is 47 meters high and a capacity of 32.071 cubic meters.

Hartbeespoort Dam

A dam that is a popular destination for holidaymakers and weekenders, Hartbeespoort Dam has it all. It is situated in Hartbeespoort in the North West Province and sits in a valley below the Magaliesberg mountain range. The dam is 149.5 meters long and 59.4 meters wide.

Boating, swimming, canoeing, waterskiing and other water sports are always on show at this dam.

Sterkfontein Dam

Sterkfontein Dam is the third largest dam in South Africa and boasts the largest dam wall in the country. It is situated just outside of Harrismith in the Free State and forms part of the Tugela Vaal water transfer scheme. It is a popular angling area because of its abundance of trout and other fish found due to the cooler conditions. The dam is surrounded by nature conservation areas and creates a beautiful landscape against the dam.

There are multiple hikes along the edge of the dam and through the nature reserves surrounding it.

Spend the day around a dam

Pack up a basket of your favourite treats and snacks. Maybe even a sneaky beer or two, and take the family down to the dam for the day. Set up a relaxing area and watch the kids frolic at the shoreline. Why not throw out a line if you are feeling lucky.

The always on form South African weather will see that there is a beautiful day for you to enjoy the sights and sounds of some of the most amazing dams found in the world, right at your doorstep.

If you are going on a road trip or vacation, find any dams close by. You can stop there during your stay or take a detour on your trip up. They may seem simple, but there is something calming and stilling about visiting a dam and immersing yourself in the natural scenery and abundant wildlife that is on show.

Don’t forget to check out any day-rate passes before taking the trip to your dam. Some of this is used to cover conservational costs.